Hello – the hallmark start to any conversation or interaction across the world.
How can such a universal greeting be so different in other Countries.
Shouldn’t we have just one way to say HELLO?
There are so many customs and rituals involved in greeting someone
Greetings are different from country to country, and unfamiliar customs can sometimes be confusing. Situations get even more confusing when different greeting gestures are required between male and female, female and female, male and male…
So should you be thinking of traveling the world, see the following guide, so as not to offend the native speaker of the country you visit.
Always try and brush up on a few key words, so many countries now have English speakers, but it is always nice to try and speak in their native language, even if is only HELLO.
In Britain – They say ‘Hello’
A simple ‘Hello, Hi or Hey’ when meeting friends, but if it’s the first time often a handshake is met with hello. In an informal situation between men and women a kiss on the cheek is commonplace and also between women that know each other well.
In the USA – They say ‘Hello’
It is normal for men to shake hands when they meet, but it is quite unusual for men to kiss when they greet each other. Greetings are casual – a handshake, a smile and a ‘hello’ will do just fine.
In France – They say ‘Bonjour’
The French nationals, including children, shake hands with their friends and often kiss them on both cheeks, both upon meeting and leaving.
In Japan – They say ‘Konnichiwa’
The Japanese use the common greeting, Konnichiwa, for men and women as well as bow when they greet someone, they would not greet with a handshake or a hug.
In China – They say ‘Nῖ hᾶo’
The Chinese tend to be more conservative, so when meeting someone for the first time, they would usually nod their heads and smile, or shake hands if in a formal situation.
In Russia – They say ‘Zdravstvuyte’
Their typical greeting is a very firm handshake. Assume you’re trying to crush each other’s knuckles, all the while maintaining direct eye contact. When men shake hands with women, the handshake is less industrial. It is considered gallant to kiss women three times while alternating cheeks, and even to kiss hands.
In Portugal – They Say ‘Olá’
The handshake is accompanied by direct eye contact and the appropriate greeting for the time of day. So olá bom dia is hello good morning, olá boa tarde is hello good afternoon and then once it is dark it would be olá boa noite.
Once a personal relationship has developed, greetings also become more personal: men may greet each other with a hug and a handshake and women kiss each other twice on the cheek starting with the right.
In Poland – They say ‘Czeṡċ’
The Poles usually casually greet each other with a simple handshake as most Europeans do. However, some of them would kiss you three times for hello, unlike the French who would kiss twice.
In Thailand – They say ‘Sawasdee’
In Thailand, people greet each other by pressing their hands together in a prayer fashion and slightly bowing their heads.
In Malaysia – They say ‘Selamat’ followed by the time of day
Selamat pagi – good morning
Selamat tengah hari – good afternoon
Selamat petang– good evening
Selamat malam – good night
Malays usually stretch out their hands and touch the other person’s fingertips and then bring their hands to their hearts. This symbolizes that they’re greeting you from their hearts.
In Tibet – They say ‘Tashi Delek’
The Tibetian Monks will however stick out their tongue to greet people and they also press their hands together and place them in front of their chest to show that they ‘come in peace’.
In Oman – They say ‘marhaba’
In Oman, men often greet each other by bringing their noses together for a few friendly taps.
In the UEA – They say ‘salaam aleikum’ (peace be upon you)
Although they greet with a hand shake, it must always be the right hand as the left hand is considered unclean.
In Morocco – They also say ‘salaam aleikum’
You would touch the back of your right hand to the back of the other person’s right hand.
In New Zealand – As well as Hello you may hear ‘Kia Ora’ (key-or-a)
English is the main spoken language however you may hear the odd work spoken in Te Reo. In a formal Māori situation, you shake hands and hongi – press noses briefly.
In Fiji – They say ‘Ni Sa Bula’ (which is formal)
If people know each other, they greet with a casual wave and ‘bula’.
In Greece – They say ‘χερετισμός’
You will see a lot of the men patting each other on the back or at shoulder level when greeting each other. They are very casual with their greeting saying ‘Yassou’ (YAH-soo) which means health to you.
In Botswana – They say ‘dumela rra’ (doo-meh-lah-rah) or ‘dumela mma’ (doo-meh-lah-mah)
If you are meeting a man it is custom to say dumela rra and follow with a handshake with a twist
(you extend your right hand for a normal handshake, then once you hold the other persons hand, change the hand position and grasp their thumb with yours, then return back to a handshake)
In the South American Countries, Spanish is the main language. – they say ‘Hola’
Or more formally Buenos Dias – good day, Buenos Tardes – good afternoon and Buenos noches – good evening.
Spanish is spoken in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela