If you are planning to travel to Europe or to other parts of the world, you can be confident that you will find many people who speak English. Even so, knowing a few of the most common greeting formulas in the language of the countries that you are planning to explore is a great way to break the ice when you meet new people, to inspire confidence and to create a friendly atmosphere. Listen and learn, here is a little help – a couple of useful phrases in 12 helpful languages:
Greeting people in their local language is a great conversation starter and a proof of politeness and respect. Many languages distinguish between formal and informal greeting situations – here is how to say hello in 13 helpful languages:
German: Hallo is the informal way to greet someone; if you don’t know the person you are greeting too closely or, if you are greeting seniors, Guten morgen (Good morning), Guten tag (Good day) or Guten abend (Good evening) might be a better choice.
Spanish: Hola, used both formally and informally.
French: Bonjour – suitable for formal and informal use as well.
Italian: Buongiorno – literally meaning Good day.
Chinese: The difference between formal and informal greetings used in meeting in Chinese is just one letter, Ni hao for formal situations and Nin hao when you want to express special respect for seniority.
Greek: Kali Mera.
Hebrew: Shalom is the classic greeting formula in Israel, suitable for formal situations, while Ahlan is used with friends. Another common way to greet someone in any situation is to say Ma nishma, literally meaning How Are things?
Hungarian: Jo napot for formal situations and Szia or simply Helo for informal greetings.
Thai: Say Sawasdee Krab if you are a man and Sawasdee Ka if you are a woman (regardless of the gender of the person you are meeting). Whatever your relationship to the person you are greeting, make sure to accompany your words with the wai, putting your hands together in front of you in a gesture that resembles praying in our culture.
Indonesian: Selamat pagi is Good Morning and Selamat malam is Good Evening.
In many cultures, greeting people when you leave is just as important as greeting them when you meet – here is how:
German: Tschüss (informal), Auf wiedersehen (suitable for any situation).
French: Au revoir.
Italian: Arrivederci in formal situations, literally meaning See you later or the universal Ciao.
Russian: Do svidanya.
Greek: Ya Soo.
Hebrew: Yom tov, meaning Have a good day is the best way to end a conversation in Israel.
Hungarian: Viszont latashra (or Viszlat for short) in formal situations and Szia with friends.
Persian: Ghorbunet or Ghorbunet beram literally means I will sacrifice myself for you, but it is a very common phrase used for saying goodbye in Persian. If you don’t feel comfortable using it, you can also say Be omide didar, which literally means ‘hope to see you soon’.
Thai: Most commonly, the phrase used for saying goodbye is the same as the phrase for saying hello, always accompanied by the wai.
Indonesian: Selamat tinggal.
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