Hi --Used to attract people's attention??

Amber_1010

Senior Member
Chinese-Cantonese
Hello.

I noticed that, in English, we sometimes use 'Hello' or 'Hey' to attract people's attention. Especially during a conversation, when we think the person is not paying attention. Like:
A: What do you want to do?
(After a few seconds.......)
A: Hey! /Hello?

Right? And I think 'Hey' is more commly used in the States than 'Hello'.
I wonder if we can use 'Hi' in this way too.
I don't think so. I think we just use it for greeting.

Am I right?
Please comment.
Thanks!
 
  • lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    You're entirely right. You can use "Hey!" or "Hello!" (or "Earth to [Samantha/Brian/Floyd]!" etc. etc.) in this context - and you can't use "Hi!" in this context in AE.

    Perhaps you can in BE, where I believe "Hi!" can be used for hailing.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    I'd be amazed to hear that today, Lucas, though I think it might once have been possible. We say Hey!, Hello! or (if we're of a somewhat coarse bent) Oi!:)
    Good to know! Apparently the literature I've been reading is mustier than even I suspected.

    Am I right that "Hi!" was once used this way - to hail a person in the street, for instance? If it was, when would you say it went out of fashion (1910's, mid-20th-century, or even earlier)?
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Yes, I'm pretty sure I've come across it in some of my own musty literature (I rarely read anything [other than science fiction] written after 1940ish). It has a 19th-century-and-earlier feel to it, for me. (It also has a slight reek of fox-hunting, for some reason:confused:)
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    C'mon ewie, don't be snarky. RM1 is just hunting for examples of the sporting "Hi!"
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Sarky, moi?:D

    Here's the full OED on hi:

    1. An exclamation used to call attention.

    ?c1475 Hunt. Hare 136 Thei cryed, ‘Hy, hy!’ all at ones ‘Kyll! kyll! for kockes bownes!’
    1747 Gentleman's Mag. Jan. 39/1 Hold, hold, 'tis a double; hark hey! bowler hye! If a thousand gainsay it, a thousand shall lye.
    1847 A. Smith Christopher Tadpole (1848) xxx. 267 ‘Hi!’ cried the brigand, giving the mule a bang with the butt-end of his musket. ‘Hi!’
    1886 G. M. Fenn This Man's Wife ii. ii, It was not a thrilling word..it was only a summons—an arrest. Hi!
    1894 G. M. Fenn In Alpine Valley I. 47 Here, hi! have a cigar?
    1897 Daily News 2 Oct. 3/3 A good lunch, and then hi! for the Crystal Palace.
    Last quote from 1897:)

    ‘Hy, hy!’ all at ones ‘Kyll! kyll! for kockes bownes!’
    The mind boggles. Or at least it would boggle if it didn't sense some kind of impropriety in this.
     

    Amber_1010

    Senior Member
    Chinese-Cantonese
    I'm sorry. I don't think I'm following.
    Lucas, do you still agree that in daily, morden American English, we do not use 'hi' in that way?

    Thanks!
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I'm sorry. I don't think I'm following.
    Lucas, do you still agree that in daily, modern American English, we do not use 'hi' in that way?

    Thanks!
    That would depend. Are you asking about getting someone's attention that you have just suddenly seen, or the attention of someone you've been talking to and you feel you've lost their attention? I'd say 'yes' to one, and 'no' to the other.
     

    Amber_1010

    Senior Member
    Chinese-Cantonese
    Hello!

    I don't understand the difference.
    What does "Are you asking about getting someone's attention that you have just suddenly seen." mean??
    Thanks!
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    I'm sorry. I don't think I'm following.
    Lucas, do you still agree that in daily, morden American English, we do not use 'hi' in that way?

    Thanks!
    I absolutely agree.

    If someone drops their wallet in the street, and you pick it up and want to get their attention, you would say "Hey!" (and never "Hi!").

    The only use for "Hi!" is as a friendly greeting, either used in passing (to be cordial, you say "Hi" to your neighbors when you meet them on the street, and then keep walking) or as the prelude to a longer conversation.
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Hello!

    I don't understand the difference.
    What does "Are you asking about getting someone's attention that you have just suddenly seen." mean??
    Thanks!
    I'll show two examples of what I mean.

    Getting the attention of someone you have just suddenly seen:
    (Bob is walking down the street. Steve sees him but Bob does not see Steve yet.He walks over to Bob and is now facing him.)
    Steve: "Hey!(Hi!)(Hello!), Bob! How have you been?!
    Bob: Hey, Steve! I'm great! How have you been?

    Getting the attention of someone you've been talking to and you feel you've lost their attention:
    (Sandy has been talking to Rob for 3 minutes, telling him a long story. Rob slowly starts to look away and is now looking at his phone, thumbing through it)
    Sandy: "blah, blah, blah.....HEY!(Hellllllooo!) Umm I'm talking to you... are you listening to me?!?!?"
    (Rob looks up) Rob: "Oh....sorry, I had to see if my friend sent a text back yet."
     

    Amber_1010

    Senior Member
    Chinese-Cantonese
    Hi again!

    I just got another one. It's different from what we discussed before.

    My mom just came back from home to find me working on my laptop in the living room. She says Hi and I know she's about to start a conversation with me. But I'm busy and I need to work so I stop her, saying give me a minute. But 2 minutes later she says Hi again, wanting me to stop working and listen to her.

    Do we use Hi the second time(underlined)? I think we use Hey, or maybe Hello, but not Hi.

    What do you think?
    Thanks!
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I think between mother and a daughter you can use anything you like. :)
    As has been previously mentioned, "Hey" or "Hello?" are perhaps more usual. However, given that the first attempt got no response I might well try for something a little stronger: "Oi!!"
     
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