Greetings used as non-greetings

Encolpius

Senior Member
Hungarian
So far I was able to find 3 examples when a common greeting is used as an idiom with a different meaning. Can you remember an example form your language? Thanks.

Czech --- No, nazdar! [nazdar is a very common Czech greeting "hello, hi"] - but the idiom is also used as "Oh, shit! Oh dear! etc" to express displeasure
Austrian -- Na, Servus! [servus a very common Austrian greeting] - but the idioms is also used to express displeasure
Hungarian -- Na, jó reggelt! [jó reggelt - good morning] - used when the "penny dropped"
 
  • ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    There are two German expressions I can think of now:
    - Guten Morgen! - lit. 'good morning!' - sarcastic: 'finally - the penny dropped!'
    - Aber hallo! - lit. 'but hello!' - sarcastic agreement: 'yeah, right', 'dream on!', 'anything else?', 'in your dreams' ...
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    In older British English (mid-20th century and earlier), hello was used to introduce an expression of surprise: e.g. Hello, my watch has stopped!

    There are still traces of this usage in Britain today, but as far as I know it is not standard anymore.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Wow, you boys surprised me....so other languages might have similar examples... Guten Morgen! is really interesting.....
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    In older British English (mid-20th century and earlier), hello was used to introduce an expression of surprise: e.g. Hello, my watch has stopped!

    There are still traces of this usage in Britain today, but as far as I know it is not standard anymore.
    That might explain the surprising use of a 'greeting' in German aber hallo. Originally* hallo was an utterance of (pleasant) surprise. Apparently it developed into a standardized greeting ('Such a nice surprise to see you'). A parallel development seems to have led to aber hallo...

    * that is, in Middle High German (as far as I know)
     

    Karton Realista

    Senior Member
    Polish - Poland
    Hungarian -- Na, jó reggelt! [jó reggelt - good morning] - used when the "penny dropped"
    In Polish you say "Dzień dobry" (good day) if somebody hits their head, stumbles on a rock and falls, they break sth; in general sth bad happens that has to do with them being clumsy.
    "do widzenia" (goodbye) is said sometimes to show that something had/is inevitably ended/ending. "Jeden błąd i do widzenia, po wszystkim" - one mistake and it's goodbye, all done for
     
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    DearPrudence

    Dépêche Mod (AL mod)
    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    I suppose this is slightly different, but in French we can use "bonjour" to introduce something that is difficult (and as a result, this is extremely hard to translate into English).
    So usually, the form is "bonjour + noun" : "Bonjour l'angoisse !" Bonjour les dégâts !"...
    Examples taken from the Larousse:
    pour le faire aller à l'école, bonjour ! no way can you get him to go to school !
    je n'ai pas fait de gym depuis un mois, bonjour les courbatures ! I haven't done any exercise for a month, I'm going to ache, let me tell you !
     

    igusarov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Russian:
    Primary meaning of "привет" is "hi". There is a set phrase "с приветом", which literally translates as "with hi". If used as the last line in a letter (much like English phrases "with regards", "with compliments") it conveys elated state of the sender. However, such usage is extremely rare; you can see it in older texts (before approx. 1940), with only a few examples in 2000s.
    But if you say that someone is "with hi", then it means that he's "off one's rocker", "not quite normal", possibly implying some mental disorder. As if "hi" was a thing or attribute in his possession.

    Another example is "здоро́во живёшь" (literally: "healthy live"). It is both greeting, both expression of surprise.
    "За здоро́во живёшь" is a set phrase which could mean "for gratis", "for nothing", "for no efforts", "for no reason".
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    But if you say that someone is "with hi", then it means that he's "off one's rocker", "not quite normal", possibly implying some mental disorder. As if "hi" was a thing or attribute in his possession.

    Can you say a Russian example? You mean: Я думаю что Саша с приветом. :confused:
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    In Cantonese, a "greeting" can be used as a "cursing" as well. The word “greet” itself becomes a euphemism of foul languages.

    e.g.
    問候你老母
    Original meaning: “greet your mother”
    Potential meaning: “speak to your mother with foul language; curse your mother; fuck your mother”
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    In older British English (mid-20th century and earlier), hello was used to introduce an expression of surprise: e.g. Hello, my watch has stopped!

    There are still traces of this usage in Britain today, but as far as I know it is not standard anymore.

    That might explain the surprising use of a 'greeting' in German aber hallo. Originally* hallo was an utterance of (pleasant) surprise. Apparently it developed into a standardized greeting ('Such a nice surprise to see you'). A parallel development seems to have led to aber hallo...

    It's the same thing in Spanish. Hola can also be used as an expression of surprise, although its use these days is rather old-fashioned or regional.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    It's the same thing in Spanish. Hola can also be used as an expression of surprise, although its use these days is rather old-fashioned or regional.

    I am afraid the expressions from other languages might be considered old-fashioned as well, witty idiomatic speech is on decline.
     

    ilocas2

    Banned
    Czech
    Agentura Dobrý den (Agency Good day) is name of a private company that cares about Czech records. This agency registers Czech records that are published afterwards in Česká kniha rekordů (Czech book of records) and runs Muzeum rekordů a kuriozit (Museum of records and curiosities) in town of Pelhřimov where a festival with the name Pelhřimov - město rekordů (Pelhřimov - town of records) takes place every year.

    I think this company is significant, many people in Czech Republic are aware of its existence, so it belongs in this thread.
     
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    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    I am afraid the expressions from other languages might be considered old-fashioned as well, witty idiomatic speech is on decline.
    I'm not sure but at least the German aber hallo has become more "fashionable" in recent years. That's just my impression but Google Ngram Viewer seems to confirm it (at least for the time period until 2008).
    So perhaps a German equivalent of the Czech Agentura Dobrý den could be an Agentur Aber Hallo...
     

    Karton Realista

    Senior Member
    Polish - Poland
    Hola can also be used as an expression of surprise, although its use these days is rather old-fashioned or regional.
    In Polish you also can say hola (with h being voiced). It definitely is a loan (there's H standalone instead of Ch). It means something like "hold it!". It may as well come from Spanish
     

    Uriel-

    Senior Member
    American English
    In English we can use "hello!" to express contempt, as in, "I found him outside washing the car. How stupid is that? I mean, hello, it was pretty obvious that it was going to rain later on."

    We also use it to express surprise or a kind of sardonic agreement. There is a certain characteristic tone you have to employ when using it this way.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In older British English (mid-20th century and earlier), hello was used to introduce an expression of surprise: e.g. Hello, my watch has stopped!

    There are still traces of this usage in Britain today, but as far as I know it is not standard anymore.
    "Hello! What's happened here?" can still be heard from the BrE speaker who has just noticed that something has gone wrong.

    A streaker runs onto the pitch during a televised cricket match. The camera of course moves away but the commentator produces a drawn-out "Hel-lo!"

    Also: "Hello! What have we got here then?" (from one police officer to another, when suspects have finally been tracked down or when incriminating evidence has been found.)
     
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