Different Ways To Say ‘Hello’

Different Ways To Say ‘Hello'

Is it possible to say goodbye ‘hello’? This form of greeting has been used conventionally as an opening remark in conversations both formally and informally. When you say ‘hello’ to a person either over the phone or on a one-on-one basis, it simply implies that you want to have a conversation with that person. The importance of greeting in any conversation can not be over-emphasized as it only serves as a conversation starter to avoid startling or disrespecting a person as the case may present itself. Although, there are other ways of using it, its relevance is more eloquent as an opening remark. The introduction of the telephone and other gadgets further gave rise to this speculation.  We will be focusing our study on the different ways of saying ‘hello’ as an opening remark according to; the formal and  informal setting; saying ‘hello’ in other words ; saying ‘hello’ using body language or body movements; and the tone of voice used in saying ‘hello’. We will also be looking at how people use the word in other contexts. This will be followed by the different ways to say hello in different societies and languages.

The Formal and Informal Setting:

 Saying ‘hello’ during a telephone conversation in a corporate environment is generally accepted but to make it seem more formal, it usually doesn’t stand alone as a greeting. It is usually accompanied by other formalities. For instance, let us look at this conversation between Bisi and XYZ gadgets plc. Bisi is about to get a laptop and she is confused on what brand to buy so she places a call to their customer service for enquiries.

Customer Service Representative: Hello! You’re on to XYZ gadgets plc. How may I help you please? 

Bisi: Hello! My name is Bisi, I am calling to make an enquiry on your gadgets. I am quite confused on which Laptop I would like to buy. Can you please run me through the names of the ones you have so I can decide?

Now, let us kindly ignore what Bisi is about to buy. Looking at the way the conversation started, we see the customer service representative use the word ‘Hello’ with an official opening statement attached to it. We also see Bisi use the same word alongside a formal self introduction. Bisi has done this because there is no initial relationship between the company and herself. Even when a relationship has been built, if Bisi does not do an introduction, the customer service representative will still include formalities probably like this; ‘Hello, Miss Bisi. Welcome to XYZ gadgets plc. How may I help you?’

However, this is different from the informal setting where there are no restrictions or official statements. The word ‘Hello’ is also used as an opening remark where a person just has to say it and it automatically prompts you to say your ‘hello’ and state your business or pleasantries. An example is also given below. Bisi calls Deji, her friend to tell him she wants to get a laptop from XYZ gadgets.

Deji: Hello, Bisi. What’s up now?

Bisi: Hello, Deji. I’m fine. How are you? Did you get my message on WhatsApp?

Deji: Yes, I did. Have you decided where you want to get the Laptop yet?

Bisi: Yes, I have decided to get it at XYZ gadgets plc.

Example 2;

Bisi calls Deji’s friend, Ola to ask for a recommendation on which Laptop product to go for.

Ola: Hello?

Bisi: Hello, Ola. Good morning. 

Ola: Good morning. Who am I on to please?

Bisi: It’s Bisi. I got your number from Deji.

Again, let us kindly ignore the reason why Bisi called Ola. In the first conversation, Bisi and Deji are friends so Deji has used the word ‘Hello’ first and has included Bisi’s name to signify that he knows Bisi and he has Bisi’s number stored on his contact list. In the second conversation, Ola knows Bisi but has only said Hello because he doesn’t have her number on his contact list.

All participants in these conversations have made use of the word ‘hello’ as an opening remark both formally and informally. 

Before the inception of the telephone, letters and other means of communication were used and in these, the ‘hello’ was almost never used. Even the social media was not of easy access without the mobile phones. For letters, we used to have the alternative, “Dear Ada,”.

 You can now easily reach out to your friends and acquaintances by simply dialing their numbers on your mobile phone or simply sending them messages on social media. Most of these conversations start with opening remarks. “Hello” is mostly used in telephone conversations as it prompts the person on the other end to state his or her reason for calling.

‘Hello’ In Other Words:

A greeting, as we said before, is usually an opening remark used to start a conversation. ‘Hello’ has been used so much in telephone conversations that it has become a norm. But then, there are other instances where it may not be needed.  This brings us to other ways to greet or open conversations without necessarily saying “hello” so as not to sound cliché or in some cases, disrespectful or awkward. If you have been added to a group and you want to signify that you have been notified then, you can use the word ‘hello’ but you can also say; “Good evening everyone, I’m new here” or “Good day everyone”, or “Good morning” depending on the time. You can also choose to say “Hey everyone!” or “Yo!” or a comment like “It feels great to be here.” You can even use a smiley to express yourself depending on the relationship you have with the people in that group. Some of these words are used formally. Under this category, we have; ‘good day’, ‘good afternoon’, ‘good evening’, ‘good morning’, ‘greetings’, and other formal greetings as the case may be. For the informal conversation, we have; ‘howdy’, ‘hey’, ‘what’s new’, ‘hey there’, ‘what’s up’, ‘hi’, and others depending on the relationship between the participants. 

Saying ‘hello’ Using Body Language and Body Movements:

It is no news that silence speaks louder than words. There are more messages passed through body language and body movements that lack adequate expressions in spoken or written words.

Greeting silently usually involves the use of the body. For example, when you find yourself in a meeting and you feel the need to say a quick ‘hello’ to your friend or colleague without attracting unnecessary attention to yourself, you simply give a nod, a smile or a slight tap on the shoulder. This form of greeting is restricted to conversations outside the telephone because the other person on the other end can not see you to read your signs.

In another situation, you are inside your family church and you are sitting in a position where your pastor’s wife can see you, you give a nod and smile as a show of appreciation to her for praying for you over the weekend.

The Tone of Voice 

Even in a telephone conversation where you can’t see the person on the other end, you can easily detect how they feel without them telling you about it. The tone of your voice when you say ‘hello’ gives you away sometimes. This varies on how high or low your voice is when you say it. Here is an example. In a telephone conversation between Ada and Seun, Seun calls Ada to tell her that she has just lost her Z phone.

Ada: (excited to hear from Seun) Hello, Seun! How are you ? I didn’t hear from you after you  left the party last Saturday.

Seun: ( In a very low tone) Hello, Ada.

Ada: Hello!(surprised to hear Seun sound like that) Seun what’s going on? Why is your voice so low? Is anything the matter?

Seun: Ada, I am not happy at all. My purse was stolen on my way back from the party that night. I lost my phone due to the incident. I just retrieved my number yesterday. 

Ada: Oh my! Your Z phone? I am so sorry for your loss. I was wondering why I couldn’t reach you when I tried calling. How did it happen?

From the example above, we can see that Ada’s tone of voice is raised to soothe her excitement from receiving Seun’s call after she has tried reaching her without success. Seun’s voice on the other hand, is low because she has lost her phone and it is going to take her a while to get another so, she is sad.

Looking at another example, Seun calls Ada to tell her that she has found her phone.

Ada: (excited to hear from her friend but not like the last time so, she speaks in a normal friendly tone) Hello, Seun. How are you doing?

Seun: (almost screaming) Hello, Ada!!! How are you my dear friend?

Ada: Hello! (surprised to hear Seun sounding far better than she did before) Seun what’s up with you? Are we safe?

Seun: My dear, I am very fine and happy. I have found my phone! A good Samaritan actually found my purse on the floor that day and with the help of my ID card, he was able to return it back to me. I’m so happy because my phone was also in it!

Ada: Wow!!! That’s good news! Is everything intact? What a good Samaritan! 

In this example, Seun’s voice is now raised higher than before because she is very happy to have found her lost phone. 

The Contextual ‘hello’:

Even though the word ‘hello’ is mostly known to be used as opening remarks or greetings, it can also be used in other contexts. Sometimes, it is used as an expression of shock or surprise at a person’s unexpected action or behaviour. Other times, it is used to call a person’s attention to something he or she seems to be oblivious of. For example, in Ada and Seun’s conversation, we see Ada express shock at Seun’s tone of voice and she tries to find out what has gone wrong( in the first example) or what has gone right (in the second example). If a man walks past you and unknowingly drops his wallet, you try to call his attention by saying; “Hello Sir, you accidentally dropped your purse.” Your intention is not to start a conversation with him. You are simply calling his attention to something he didn’t notice himself.

How To Say ‘hello’ in Different Languages and Societies

The concept of language, according to research, has been traced back to the story of the ‘Tower of Babel’ in The Bible but then, it has been argued that it is purely conventional. This means that a particular group of people came together and gave names to things in their own language and it happened like that everywhere else. 

There are 7000 different spoken languages in the world and these languages have different conventional ways of saying different words including ‘hello’.  

In Nigeria for instance, we have about five hundred and twenty five(525) spoken languages. Each language has its own translation for ‘hello’ even though it doesn’t necessarily have to mean “hello” in itself. When you translate these words, you get a closer translation and not ‘hello’ itself most times. Sometimes, you get a “good morning”, a “how are you”, a “welcome” or you could even get an articulation of the ‘hello’ sound. Examples are; ‘heloo’,’elo’, ‘alo’, and so on. 

Igbos tend to say ‘nnoo’ meaning ‘welcome’. If you want to hear an exact ‘hello’, what you get is probably an ‘eloo’ or a ‘heloo’. Yorubas tend to say ‘enle o’ meaning ‘how are you?’ or pele o meaning ‘sorry’. Hausas say ‘samun’ and it means ‘get’ in another translation. Other languages like Calabar, Urhobo, Benin, Esan and others have their own various translations as well.

In Efik, they say ‘Mokom Ekom do’. This language is spoken in Calabar and Akwa Ibom, Nigeria.

In Delta, it is said as ‘Mavo’ and this language is spoken in Delta State, Nigeria.

In Bini, ‘Hello’ is said as ‘Ob okhian’ and this language is spoken by the people in Benin, Edo State, Nigeria.

In Esan language, ‘Khara o’ is used in translation

In Mandarin, it is ‘ni hǎo’ and people who speak Mandarin are people in China, Taiwan, Singapore.

In Spanish, it is ‘hola’ and it is spoken in Spain, Western Sahara, Pacific Islands, United States, and Equitorial Guinea.

In Hindi, it is ‘namaste’ and Hindi is spoken in places like Nepal, Fiji and India.

In Arabic, it is ‘marhabaan’ and it is spoken in North Africa, Middle East of  West Asia and East Africa. Some Moslems in other parts of the word also use this language.

In Portuguese, it is ‘olá’, ‘oi’ or ‘alô’ and it is spoken in Angola, Brazil, São Tomé and Príncipe, Portugal and Mozambique. 

In Bengali, it is ‘hyālō’ and it is spoken in Bangladesh, West Bengal(India), Tripura (India), Assam (India).

In Russian, you say ‘privet’ and  it is spoken in countries like Russia, former Republics of the Soviet Union and Mongolia.

In German, you say ‘hallo’ or ‘guten tag’ and it is  spoken in places like Austria, Belgium (Eupen-Malmedy), Germany, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and South Tirol (in Italy).

In places like Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, where they speak Malay/Indonesian, they say ‘selamat siang’.

In Korean, they say ‘annyeong haseyo’ and this language is spoken by people in North Korea and  South Korea.

In Telugu, it is said as ‘halō’ or ‘vandanalu’and this language is spoken in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Puducherry (India).

In Vietnamese, they say ‘xin chào’ and a place where it’s spoken is Vietnam.

In French, it translates as bonjour and it is spoken in Francophone places like  Belgium (Wallonia, Brussels), Canada (particularly Quebec, New Brunswick and Eastern parts of Ontario), France, Switzerland, Francophone Africa, French Caribbean, French Polynesia and in various islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

In Marathi, they say ‘hĕlō’ or ‘namaskār’ and it is spoken in Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat (India).

In Tamil, it is said as ‘vaṇakkam’ and this language is spoken in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka (India), Puducherry (India), Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius.

In Urdu, you open a greeting with ‘assalam u alaikum’ which is also a kind of Moslem opening remark.

In Persia or Farsi, you say salām as a greeting and it is spoken in places like Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

In Turkish, they say ‘merhaba’ and this language is spoken in Turkey, Cyprus and Bulgaria.

In Cantonese, you ‘nǐ hǎo’ like in Mandarin and this language is spoken in Guangdong (Canton), southern Guangxi (southern China), Hong Kong and Macau.

In Italian, you say ‘ciao’. This word is also used for goodbyes and this language is spoken in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino.

In Thai, you say ‘sà-wàt-dii’ and this language is Spoken in Thailand.

The Silver Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand

In Gujarati, you say ‘namaste’ and this is used in places like Gujarat (India).

In Basque, they say  and a place where this language is spoken is in Northern Spain.

In, Minnan hua, you say ‘lı́ hó’ and places where this is used are ;Fujian, eastern part of Guandong (south-eastern China), Hainan (southern China), Taiwan and Malaysia.

In Polish, you say ‘cześć’ and this language is spoken in Poland, USA, Germany, United Kingdom, Belarus, western Ukraine and Lithuania.

In Pashto, they say ‘salam’ and places where this language are in Afghanistan, Pakistan.

In Kannada, you say ‘namaskāra’ and places where it is spoken is in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra (India).

In Malayalam, you say ‘halēā and this language is spoken in Kerala, Lakshadweep and Mahé (India)

In Sundanese, they say ‘sampurasun’ and it is spoken in Java (Indonesia).

In Chamorro, hafa adai stands for ‘hello’ and languages where this word is used in the island of Guam, and also in the Marianas Islands.

In Burmese, they say ‘hello’ as ‘min-ga-la’ . A Place where this language is spoken is Myanmar.

In Oriya, they say ‘namaskar’ as ‘hello’. The language is used in Odisha (India)

In Armenian, ‘hello’ is said as ‘barev’ and it is mostly spoken in Armenia Georgi and Russia.

In Ukrainian, you say ‘dobryj den’ and this language is spoken in Ukraine.

In Tagalog, ‘Kamusta’ is used in countries like Manila and Northern Philippines.

In Maithili, they say ‘prannam’ and this language is spoken in Bihar (India)

In Sindhi, you say ‘sayassalam o alaikum”

 In Fula, they say ‘mihofnima’ and the language is spoken in West and Central Africa, from Senegal to Sudan.

In Oromo, ‘akkam’ is used for the word ‘hello’ and this language is used in Ethiopia and Kenya

In Romanian, ‘hello’ means ‘bună’ and the language is spoken in Romania and Moldova. 

In Azerbaijani, you say ‘salam’ and this language is spoken in Azerbaijan and Northern Iran.

In Manipuri/Meitei, they say ‘khurumjari’ and the language is spoken in North East India, Bangladesh, Burma.

In Chichewa, they say  and the language is spoken in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.

In Cebuano, they say ‘kumusta’ and this language is spoken in Central and Southern Philippines.

In Dutch, they say, ‘hallo’ and this language is spoken in Belgium (Flanders, Brussels), Netherlands and Suriname.

In Kurdish, ‘hello’ means ‘slaw’ and this language is spoken in “Kurdistan”, northern Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria.

In Serbo-Croatian, they say ‘’ and this language is spoken in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro.

In Malagasy, they say ‘salama’ and this language is spoken in Madagascar.

Finally, there are many other languages that I couldn’t bring up here but the fact is that these languages actually have specific translations for the word ‘hello’. It goes to show the importance of the opening remark which brings us back to my first question. Would it be easy to say goodbye to “Hello”? Maybe we should leave the floor open for you to give your opinion. If you can come up with another way of starting a phone conversation that would prompt a person to respond with their reasons for calling, then by all means, please let us know. 

Different Ways To Say ‘Hello’

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