Get Well Very Soon

Get Well Very Soon: Let me tell you something about the phrase.

Imagine you were tasked with inventing a new language.

You have to think of how to say something positive to friends or relatives who are ill. Of all the phrases that you might come up with, I don’t think Get Well Very Soon would be there.

Of course it is all in the tone of voice. It can be said soothingly, and with great empathy and care.

But to my ears it is bordering on an order given to a patient. It sounds almost like someone saying that the person who is ill should hop to it and get well immediately if possible and if not, then soon! It sounds like a command as in ‘Look, I know you are ill but just get well and do it right now because I say so.

Thinking of it that way, it doesn’t even sound like the person cares for the person who is ill. Where is the ‘Sorry you are ill’? It sounds like a phrase that a well person might say to an ill person that the patient is required to obey. I imagine a comedy sketch in the style of Monty Python like this.

Get well very soon, my good man.”
“Yes, of course sir. Just give me a moment to extract this lance that has pierced my chest, and I will be up and ready to fight on. I’ll be right as rain, fit as a butcher’s dog, ready for anything, you’ll see.

The Origin Is Obscure

So what is the origin of the phrase? After all, people have been wishing others a swift recovery and praying for their wellbeing since biblical times. But why those words?

Well I have researched it a bit. And I have concluded that we probably shall never know why those words caught on.

And then there is the other aspect which is that of course, it is all in the tone of voice. Perhaps not everyone hears the nearness to a ‘command’ the way I hear it implicit in the choice of these words.

Perhaps many people hear it simply as an expression of encouragement. If you are like me though, then you hear the command along with the expression of encouragement.

The Stern Owl Get Well Very Soon Card

The words in this Get Well card featuring a stern owl are ‘Get Well Very Soon’

You will have noticed the insertion of the word ‘very’. It is not a sweet and ernest hope that the patient gets well soon. Rather it is an order, or almost an order. And with a stern owl saying it, the order fits the expression. Of course, we know that it is not really intended as an order and that an order would be the wrong thing to tell someone.

What we really man is that we know that it is an appeal to a shared sense of humour. Oh, if only we could wish ourselves well. Sometimes we can, when we are a bit under the weather. But when there is something medically wrong, the follow doctor’s orders. 

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