How to greet an old stranger?

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AVim

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi guys,

I want to say "hello" to an old stranger in a kind way; it is okay to say "Hi grand" or "Hi uncle"?

Thanks :)
 
  • AVim

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Is there some way to refer to the person? I mean could I say "Good morning, old mister."?

    Thank you again.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    If this stranger is in Asia and is Chinese or Malay (and perhaps others), then "Hello, Uncle" or "Hello, Auntie" are not only polite but expected. Perhaps you can tell us the circumstance you imagine and the people you'll be addressing.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Well, how about this:
    "Good morning, elder mister."
    Speaking as someone who probably fits the description, I would consider it a profound insult.

    What you are asking (whipping a dead horse, actually) is more of a cultural issue than one of language. Perhaps it is acceptable or even honorable to call attention to a person's age in your culture, but among us English speakers, it is certainly not.
     

    EnchiladaJack

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Well, how about this:
    "Good morning, elder mister."
    Nope. If you feel the need to address the person directly, "sir" will probably suffice:

    "Hello, sir!"

    Don't draw attention to the person's age; as sdgraham points out, it's impolite in the US, at least.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Context, please. What country are you in when you're speaking and what is the nationality of the people you're addressing?
     

    shawnee

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    Maybe buddy is okay depending on where you are. In Australia sometimes I heard it used between two different generations.
    Yeah, were pretty casual here, more's the pity.

    In English the normal situation is to address someone as Mr, Mrs or Miss until one is permitted to address someone by the first name. In that case a polite greeting to an older person might be, "Good morning Mr Jones. How are you today?

    I would caution that the cross generational 'buddy' might be appropriate if there is a pre existing acquaintance otherwise this could be far too informal.
     
    Last edited:

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    We mustn't forget that we are being asked how to greet someone who is a stranger and who is old. Good morning, Mr Jones. How are you today? is polite, but not appropriate for a stranger: you know this Mr Jones.

    I suspect this is a difficult question to answer because the correct formulae are so different across different countries and social classes that no single answer is appropriate. Copyright has already given suggestions of what one might say in an oriental country, and others have said what I would say, that Good Morning/or Afternoon/or Evening is all that is appropriate in many circumstances in the England I know.
     

    AVim

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    "Good morning Mr Jones. How are you today? "
    I agree with Thomas. As the old guy is a stranger, I might not even know his name. (It may be the first time I met him.) :)

    In English, are there any names to show some respect for old person you are speaking to but not very familiar with?

    Can I say: Hello, senior sir(mam).

    I hope I didn't whip the dead horse again.
    (What a joke, I mean I just learned the phrase "to whip a dead horse" from sdgraham's post by whipping a dead horse, so I think whipping a dead horse is worthwhile sometimes. ) :)

    Thank you all for your responses.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Can I say: Hello, senior sir(mam).
    Nope, sorry AVim, you're still flogging* that dead horse. Take it from these native horses' mouths: you just don't refer to a person's age in English ... in any way, ever.

    *BE version:)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It occurs to me that in countries where this practice is common, it's usually translated Grandpa, or Granny - I'm thinking of 19th Century Russia. e.g.

    ANÍSYA. That's the way he always coughs,--just as if he were screaming.
    He's getting very bad.

    NEIGHBOR (approaches MATRYÓNA). How do you do, granny? Have you come
    far?

    MATRYÓNA. Straight from home, dear. Come to see my son. Brought him
    some shirts--can't help thinking of these things, you see, when it's
    one's own child.


    From Tolstoy's The Power of Darkness, Act II.

    As others have said, don't try it on anyone in the UK.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    As others have said, we do not show respect for an older person in English by referring to their age or using a name like Uncle or Grandmother. I know it's difficult if you are not used to this. In US English and culture we show respect by saying "sir" or "ma'am", by listening carefully to what they say, not interrupting, and with non-verbal cues that are very difficult to describe.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I feel like I'm flogging a dead horse, but maybe third time's a charm -- What's the context? You live in Qingdao, so are you saying this to native English speakers you meet in the street, or do you wish to baffle elderly Mandarin speakers, or are you writing a story in English and looking for dialogue, or are you getting prepared for when you move to L.A. or what?
     

    shawnee

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    I sure stuffed up on the 'stranger' detail. Sorry about that. I suppose it didn't feature in my thoughts because the random greeting of strangers in many societies sort of went out of fashion around mid twentieth century give or take. So I can only echo copy's call for context.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    AVim has been asked for context more than once. No context has been forthcoming.

    Therefore, to avoid further cruelty to defunct equine creatures (beating, flogging, performing further unspeakable acts upon dead horses), this thread will close now.

    If and when AVim is ready to provide context, a private message to any of the English Only moderators, whose names are given below, will be sufficient.

    Thread closed.




    panjandrum, timpeac, JamesM, Matching Mole, Wilma_Sweden, Nunty, ewie, Trisia, Cagey, bibliolept, cuchuflete

    _________________
    'Ah, then it is context that has power,' said Vetinari, turning around with a look of unmasked delight. —T. Pratchett




     
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