greetings (etymology)

ger4

Senior Member
German
I've just read this post and thought it would be interesting to find out more about the original meanings of greetings (there are some related threads but they discuss different aspects: hello , hola-hello , say-hello , greetings-used-as-non-greetings )

Some German examples:
- Guten Morgen/Tag/Abend! < '(Wishing you a) good morning/day/evening'
- Hallo! < originally an expression of pleasant surprise
- Moin! (only in Northern Germany) < probably derived from Low German moi ('nice', 'good')
- Grüß Gott! (southern Germany, Austria) < 'May god greet you'
- Grüezi! (Switzerland) < related to Grüß Gott

Estonian*:
- Tere! < '(Wishing you) health'
- Tere hommikust/päevast/õhtust! < ~ 'Health from the morning/day/evening'
...

Polish*:
- Cześć! < 'honour'
- Witam! < '(I) welcome (you)'
...

* native speakers please correct any mistakes

How about your language(s)? Thanks in advance.
 
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  • 810senior

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Japanese:
    Ohayou gozaimasu(Good morning): ohayou - inf. hayai(fast, early) + gozaimasu(inf. gozar-u meaning be); it literally means "it's early (today)"
    konnichiwa(Good afternoon): the most general greeting in Japanese, it's a short for 今日(こんにち)はご機嫌いかがですかkonnnichi wa gokigen ikaga desuka meaning how do you do today?
    konbanwa(Good evening): same above, how do you do this evening?
    Yaa, you(colloquial, hello, hey): stemmed from onomatopoeia
    Ossu, chiwassu, chiissu(colloquial) short for ohayougozaimasu, connnichiwa

    French:
    As far as I remember.

    Bonjour(good morning, good afternoon): bon(good) + jour(a day)
    Bonsoir(good evening): bon(good) + soir(evening)
    Salut(colloquial, hello): no doubt from Latin salūs(safety, greeting)
     
    Greek:

    «Καλημέρα» [kaliˈmeɾa] (intrj.) --> good morning/day < Byzantine greeting «καλήν ἡμέραν» kalḗn ēméran --> (have a) good day/morning < Classical adj. «καλός, -λή, -λόν» kălós (masc.), kălḗ (fem.), kălón (neut.) --> beautiful, noble, good (with obscure etymology) + Classical fem. noun «ἡμέρᾱ» hēmérā --> day (PIE *Heh₂mer- day cf Arm. օր (ōr), day).
    «Καλησπέρα» [kaliˈspeɾa] (intrj.) --> good evening < Byzantine greeting «καλήν ἑσπέραν» kalḗn espéran --> (have a) good evening < Classical adj. «καλός, -λή, -λόν» (see above) + Classical fem. noun «ἑσπέρᾱ» hĕspérā --> evening, west (PIE *ue-kʷsp-er-o- to(wards) the night, evening old inherited PIE word identical with Lat. vesper, Lith. vākaras, Proto-Slavic *večerъ, Arm. գիշեր (gisher), night etc).
    «Καληνύχτα» [kaliˈnixta] (intrj.) --> good night < Byzantine greeting «καλήν νύκταν» kalḗn nýktan --> (have a) good night < Classical adj. «καλός, -λή, -λόν» (see above) + Classical 3rd declension fem. noun «νύξ» núk͡s (nom. sing.), «νυκτός» nŭktós (gen. sing.) --> night (PIE *nekʷt-/*nokʷt-/*negʷʰ- night, become dark old inherited word for night retained in most IE languages Skt.नक् (nak), Lat. nox etc.).
    The colloquial greeting is «γεια!» [ʝa] --> hello, hi, cheers lit. (have) health < aphetic colloquialism of Classical fem. noun «ὑγιείᾱ» hŭgĭeíā (Ionic «ὑγιείη» hŭgĭeíē, MoGr «υγεία» [iˈʝi.a] (fem.)) --> health (PIE *h₂iu- span of life, vital force cf Skt. आयु (āyu), lifetime; Lat. ævum + PIE *gʷih₃- to live cf Arm. կեալ (keal), to live).
    A common parting greeting is «αντίο» [aˈdi.o] < It. addio.
    The most common greeting for ancient Greeks was the interjection «οὗλε!» hoûlĕ! --> lit. be sound, healthy < Ionic var. adj. «οὗλος» hoûlŏs of Classical adj. «ὅλος, -λη, -λον» hólŏs (masc.), hólē (fem.), hólŏn (neut.) --> whole, complete (PIE *sol(H)-uo- whole cf Skt. सर्व (sarva), whole; Av. hauruua, whole; Lat. salvus, sound, safe).
     

    momai

    Senior Member
    Ar
    Arabic:

    Sabaahu al-khayr lit: the morning of goodness

    masaa'u al-khayr lit: the evening of goodness

    assalaamu 3laykom (peace be upon you)

    salaam (peace)

    marhaban(hello) the word is derived from the root r-ħ-b .The root has to do with wideness and vastness.
    The word marhaba can also mean welcome when combined with the preposition "bi" e.g. "marhaban bika" welcome (to a male)
     

    Delirivm

    New Member
    Italiano - Sardu
    Sardinian:
    Bonu die : good day.
    Bonu merie : good evening.
    Saludi : hello.
    Benibenidos : welcome.
    (Bona) noti : Good night
     

    spindlemoss

    Senior Member
    Welsh
    Welsh:

    Bore da = Good morning
    Prynhawn da, P'nawn da = Good afternoon
    Noswaith dda = Good evening
    Nos da = Good night; also, in the north, Nos dawch < Nos da iwch = Good night to-you

    Shwmae (southern), S(u)mai (northern) < Sut mae (hi)? = How is (it/her)?
    Sut wyt ti?, Shwdi(ti)? = How (are) you?
    Ti'n iawn/ocê? = You ok?
    Sut mae'r hwyl? = How is-the hwyl? - hwyl can mean lots of related things: a sail, journey, progress, mood, frame of mind, disposition, humour, fun, so I guess it's How's the mood/journey/fun?
    Shwd ma'n ceibo? (south-western) - How is-it digging-with-a-pickaxe/mattock?

    Greetings from English include
    Helô, Hylô < Hello; also Helo 'na = Hello there
    Heia, Haia < Hiya

    Bonus material: (i.e. Can I include some farewells too?)
    Hwyl fawr, Hwyl = (Big) journey/gusto/temper/mood/fun (see above); I don't think it means Big sail!
    Hwyl am y tro = Bye for the turn i.e. Bye for this turn/time i.e. Bye for now
    Da bo = May it be good (subjunctive present)
    Wela i di = I'll see you = See you
    Wela i di yn y man, Gweld ti yn y man = (I'll) see you in the place/spot i.e. See you in the near future

    Again, English gives us:
    Ta-ra , T'ra, Ta-ta < British English Ta-ra & Ta-ta
    So, by extension:
    T(r)a wan < Ta-ta rŵan = Bye now; rŵan (northern) is from yr awr hon = this hour
    Ta-ta tan toc = Ta-ta till the-near-future = Bye for now; toc means soon, in a while, shortly and probably comes from English dock i.e. cut short
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    @810senior , @apmoy70 , @momai ,@Delirivm , @spindlemoss , many thanks for your replies!
    Bonu merie : good evening.
    Classical fem. noun «ἡμέρᾱ» hēmérā --> day (PIE *Heh₂mer- day)
    I was surprised about the Sardinian word for evening (as far as I know, other Romance languages have sera, soir etc.). Could there be a link with PIE *Heh₂mer- day ?
    marhaban(hello) the word is derived from the root r-ħ-b .The root has to do with wideness and vastness.
    The word marhaba can also mean welcome when combined with the preposition "bi" e.g. "marhaban bika" welcome (to a male)
    Thanks a lot for these explanations. So far I only knew marhaba as a greeting but nothing about its origins. The connection with wideness and vastness is very interesting.

    ... and diolch yn fawr (hope that's correct) for all those Welsh expressions. Welsh doesn't appear often on this forum...
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I was surprised about the Sardinian word for evening (as far as I know, other Romance languages have sera, soir etc.). Could there be a link with PIE *Heh₂mer- day ?

    Spanish and Portuguese (or at least the standard forms of each) don't use the sera word for "evening" either.

    Sardinian merie looks like it could come from Latin meridi(ēs) "mid-day", but I'm not sure.

    Armenian:
    բարի լույս
    (bari luis) = "good day", i.e. a greeting for people during the day
    բարի երեկո (bari yereko) = "good evening", a greeting for the night time

    The first phrase literally means "good light"; the normal word for "day" in Armenian is օր (or).
     
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    I was surprised about the Sardinian word for evening (as far as I know, other Romance languages have sera, soir etc.). Could there be a link with PIE *Heh₂mer- day ?
    Probably Gavril is right:
    Sardinian merie looks like it could come from Latin meridi(ēs) "mid-day", but I'm not sure.
    Medius + diēs.
    The Romance words for evening (sera, soir, serão) derive from the Latin adjective sērus (slow, late) < PIE *seh₁-ro- long, late cf Irish síor (long), Scottish Gaelic sìor (continuous), Breton hir (tall)
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    Catalan:

    hola 'hello', from Spanish hola; from uncertain origin, perhaps Arabic wallāh 'by God' or perhaps cognate of English hello and German hallo.
    bon dia
    'good day', for the day
    bon vespre 'good evening', for the evening
    bona nit 'good night', for the night

    However due to Spanish influence bona tarda 'good afternoon' has been introduced, restricting bon dia to the morning in modern usage.

    Spanish:

    hola 'hello', see above
    buenos días 'good days', for the morning
    buenas tardes 'good afternoons', for the afternoon
    buenas noches 'good nights', for the night
    buenas, reduced form of the expressions above, used the whole day
     

    ilocas2

    Banned
    Czech
    one Czech greeting is čus, it's from German tschüss

    but unlike German tschüss, it's used both for meeting and parting, not just for parting
     

    Messquito

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Taiwan 中文 Taiwanese Hokkien 臺語
    Taiwanese Chinese:
    早/午/晚安 <(Wish you a) peaceful morning/(after)noon/night
    (早安 can be shortened into 早)
    <(May) you (be) well
    吃飽沒/吃飯了嗎? <Did you eat yet?
    On the internet:
    安/安安 <peace
     

    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Finnish:

    Hyvää huomenta! = Good morning!
    Hyvää päivää! = Good day!
    Hyvää iltaa! = Good evening!

    They are all in partitive case so a verb is understood: [I wish you] good morning.

    Terve = Healthy
    Hei, moi, seem like loans from German and Swedish
     

    kaverison

    Member
    Tamil
    Tamil

    @Holger2014, Thank you for this post. I am still new and hesitate to open new threads here. This is what I said in the other post to answer a question about வணக்கம் (vaNakkam)!

    vaNakkam in Tamil may have many meanings, depending on context. It can mean, "welcome" as in welcome to our home or "hello", "nice to meet you", "Good Morning", "Good Bye", "worship", "respects", "salute" etc. Well, it doesn't exactly mean all those, but those meanings are implied. Every Tamil word is overloaded with multiple meanings and many words may mean the same thing as well.

    The root for this may be வளை (vaLai) - (v) meaning to bend, bow etc. > வண, வணை + கு > வணங்கு (v) + அம் > வணக்கம்.

    vaNanku - worship, prostrate, pray because that's how we prayed to God.
    Also, respect, because we did the same to our elders.

    iRai vaNakkam - (God) Worship, irai vaNakkappaadal - God worshipping songs, gospels

    And paying homage, as in
    viira vaNakkam - homage to soldiers

    But, in day to day life, we have adapted to mean every possible greetings:
    kaalai vaNakkam - Morning Greetings - Good Morning!
    maalai vaNakkam - Good evening
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    @Gavril , @mataripis , @Diamant7 , @ilocas2 , @ahmedcowon , @Messquito , @Armas , @kaverison , Thanks for all the replies and the background information.
    Armenian:
    բարի լույս
    (bari luis) = "good day", i.e. a greeting for people during the day [...]
    The first phrase literally means "good light"; the normal word for "day" in Armenian is օր (or).
    That reminds me of Turkish günaydın ('good morning'), gün = day, aydın = 'well-lighted', but also: 'joyous, happy' (according to this dictionary; it would be interesting to find out more from Turkish speakers). Can Armenian լույս/luis express something like 'joy' or 'happiness' as well?
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Can Armenian լույս/luis express something like 'joy' or 'happiness' as well?

    Not as far as I know. All the meanings of լույս listed in my Armenian dictionary have to do with literal light/brightness, or with clarity and truth.

    I forgot to mention a simpler word for "Hello" in Armenian: բարեւ (barev), which is an old instrumental-case form of բարի "good". I am not sure if բարեւ works as a greeting for strangers -- it may mainly be used for people that you are familiar with.
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Thanks a lot for these explanations. So far I only knew marhaba as a greeting but nothing about its origins. The connection with wideness and vastness is very interesting.
    The root is ر-ح-ب RHB (wide), the word means something like "welcome to a wide/open place"=there's room for all., you're welcome here.
    Add to them أهلا وسهلا [ahlan wa sahlan] which is very common in both Standard and spoken Arabic and it literally means "family and easy"
    We have a thread in the Arabic forum about ahlam wa sahlan for those interested.
     
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