Saying hey to greet someone (Rude?!)

Amber_1010

Senior Member
Chinese-Cantonese
Hello!

I was talking to a Chinese woman who was thinking about sending his 12 year old to the UK to study. I asked her why she was not considering sending him to America, and she said because she didn't want her son to come back to HK to greet people by saying just 'Hey', she thought that was really rude. I didn't argue with her.

But I think Americans or Canadians are not rude when they say Hey. They are just being friendly. We say Hey to people we are familiar with, and we do say things like 'Hello Mr Ray.' when we are like, meeting someone in a formal meeting.

I don't think I have heard the British say 'Hey' in informal contexts like that. Why? Do the people think it is inappropriate like the woman did?

Thanks for telling me what you think.

Thanks!
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I would suspect it of being familiar. It's not as common as Hi in BE. Hi is now a very common mode of address.

    I can't get over the way the young greet you with How are you?, in the UK now, as though they'd known you for years.

    I know they don't mean to be offensive, but it irritates me.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I don't think I have heard the British say 'Hey' in informal contexts like that. Why? Do the people think it is inappropriate like the woman did?
    When I was younger, if you called "Hey" to someone, it was to draw their attention to the fact that they were doing something that was wrong or was annoying you or others. I think this nuance has remained with the word.

    I also remember the standard response to hearing someone call "Hey!" to you:

    A: "Hey!"
    B: [In an offended or aggressive manner] "Hay? Hay is what horses eat. Who do you think you are saying "hay" to?" (You will note that hay and hey are identical in pronunciation.)
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Half the people in my Hong Kong office greet each other with "Hey," so you don't have to go to America to learn it. It's just the new replacement for "Hi." Let's hope she ruled out America for more important reasons that this.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    In my experience "Hi" is still more usual than "Hey" as a British greeting, although that may be changing. But while "Hey" tends to be used more over here informally to attract someone's attention, it isn't generally construed as rude.
     

    Esme Forster

    New Member
    English
    Hello!

    I was talking to a Chinese woman who was thinking about sending his 12 year old to the UK to study. I asked her why she was not considering sending him to America, and she said because she didn't want her son to come back to HK to greet people by saying just 'Hey', she thought that was really rude. I didn't argue with her.

    But I think Americans or Canadians are not rude when they say Hey. They are just being friendly. We say Hey to people we are familiar with, and we do say things like 'Hello Mr Ray.' when we are like, meeting someone in a formal meeting.

    I don't think I have heard the British say 'Hey' in informal contexts like that. Why? Do the people think it is inappropriate like the woman did?

    Thanks for telling me what you think.

    Thanks!




    Hi,

    I'm British and I'd say that saying 'Hey' is friendly- but more for a friend rather than a teacher or someone who you aren't really close with. Like saying "hey', to your parents friends or your extended family maybe too casual. Generally say "hey' to friends and hi to everyone else
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    ... I'm British and I'd say that saying 'Hey' is friendly- but more for a friend ...
    I agree, especially with the "friendly" part. If you know someone well, it's fine. If you don't know someone, it is rude. When someone I've never met opens a conversation with me on WRF with "hey," I consider it quite rude. If I'm on the fence about replying or not replying to this person's question, being addressed with "hey" by a stranger will lead me not to reply.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In the US, in greeting a stranger, I say "hey". I used to say "hi". "Hey" is identical to "Hi" where I live.

    It's very brief -- two people passing on a sidewalk can say it without stopping. You can't say anything longer, without stopping.

    The most common longer greeting used to be "How are you?". That has changed to "How you doin?" I have not learned to say that yet.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I agree, especially with the "friendly" part. If you know someone well, it's fine. If you don't know someone, it is rude. When someone I've never met opens a conversation with me on WRF with "hey," I consider it quite rude. If I'm on the fence about replying or not replying to this person's question, being addressed with "hey" by a stranger will lead me not to reply.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    When someone I've never met opens a conversation with me on WRF with "hey," I consider it quite rude. I
    I agree with that. Nobody says "Hey" to open a conversation. And nobody uses "Hey" in writing.

    I only use "Hey" as a one-word greeting to someone I am passing -- that is more polite, to me, than saying nothing.
     

    andrewg927

    Senior Member
    English - American
    In the US, you say hey to be friendly either to a friend or a stranger. Or some people like to say "hey, what's up". Again the key word here is friendly. It's more common among men. I would never greet a stranger woman with hey.
     
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