Say hello in 10 languages!
It’s often the first word that we learn when studying a new language or visiting a country for the first time. It’s a simple greeting that opens the door to a conversation, even if we have to resort to gestures after that. “Hello” is the simple beginning to almost all conversations. As there are more than 6,000 different languages spoken all over the world today, it’s probably the word that is used most.
Any self-respecting translator or interpreter should know how to say hello in different languages and so here are 10 different ways of doing it!
- Mandarin – It’s the second most spoken language in the world and the one with the most native speakers (almost 920 million). In spite of its great complexity, Mandarin is spoken by one in every seven people in the world, and so you may find it useful to learn the expression nin hao, which is used as a formal and informal greeting.
- Spanish – For Portuguese-speakers, it’s easy to say ¡Hola!, as Spanish is a very close relative of the language of Camões. Spanish is currently the third most spoken language in the world, so you may want to learn some more informal greetings like ¡Buenas! (abbreviation of buenos días or buenas tardes) or the popular ¿Qué pasa?
- Hindi – The word namaste is quite well known today, thanks to the popularity of yoga, and is the traditional greeting in Hindi. It is considered a respectful form of greeting people in India.
- Bengali – The official language of Bangladesh is also used in India. It is spoken by 265 million people and belongs to the same family as Hindi and other languages in the region. Namaskar is the most common greeting.
- French – Bonjour works in any setting and at any time of day. Among friends or in a more relaxed environment, you can greet people with salut!. Both expressions are musical and romantic, like any other word in French!
- Russian – This is a difficult language to learn and pronounce, but is still an important one. Zdravstvuyte is the formal way (hard to pronounce), but in a more relaxed setting you can use privet.
- Arabic – For cultural, historical and religious reasons, it is a language understood in practically the entire Middle East and North Africa . The most common greeting is Asalaam alaikum.
- Bahasa (Indonesia) – Indonesians have four different ways of saying hello. They all begin with the word selamat and vary with the time of day: first thing (selamat pagi), morning (selamat siang), afternoon (selamat sore) and evening (selamat malam).
- Swahili – This is the official language of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and is the most spoken in Africa (100 to 150 million speakers). It has many forms of greeting. Hujambo means hello, but is considered old-fashioned and is falling into disuse. When you’re in this part of the world, you can say habari (“what’s up?”), shikamoo (when speaking to an elderly person) or unakuwaje (informal). And these are just some of the choices!
- Japanese – In spite of great tradition and formality, this oriental language has evolved a lot in recent decades and also boasts a variety of greetings. In addition to konnichiwa, the most traditional, there are at least 15 other greetings whose use depends on the situation and the people involved: ossu (informal, used by young men), yahhō (used only among girls), hajimemashite (a greeting for people who have just met), plus a number of others!