so long = see you

Discussion in 'English Only' started by claudiae1, Dec 20, 2007.

  1. claudiae1 Member

    Is "so long" a currently used English expression meaning see you, adieu or is it just limited to specific 'slang minorities'?
  2. Franglais Maestro

    Franglais Maestro Senior Member

    England English
    Hi Claudiae
    welcome to the forum
    So long is very American and used widely, not just by sland minorities.
    It is used in the UK, but it is recognisably American and not used so much.
  3. alacant

    alacant Senior Member

    Alicante, Spain
    England, english
    In England we would be more likely to say byeee! or see you.

    Cheers, A
  4. claudiae1 Member

    Thank you guys.. I appreciate.
  5. Rana_pipiens

    Rana_pipiens Senior Member

    Salt Lake City, Utah
    USA / English
    If there's a good possibility you'll see the person again that day, see you is usually used rather than some other farewell. If a time is known, often it is specified (particularly for longer separations): "I'm at the store, picking up some milk; I'll see you when I get home," or "Have a good weekend; see you Monday," or "Have a safe flight. See you in June." Sometimes it's used as a vague goodbye when you've been chatting to a stranger.

    So long is used for longer separations, often when it isn't known when (or even whether) you will see someone again; for instance, "So long, and good luck with your new job," or "Give the kids my love. So long for now." Sometimes be seeing you is added, if there is an expectation you'll run into the person again at some indefinite point.

    It's sometimes used as, "I'll be saying 'so long' now," meaning, it's time for me to be going, as a departing guest gets up to leave -- and then the actual goodbyes are said.
  6. mplsray Senior Member

    An example of the informal (but standard) use of "So long" can be seen in the words to the closing theme of the American TV program The Carol Burnett Show: "I'm so glad we had this time together/Just to have a laugh and sing a song/Seems we just got started and before you know it/Comes the time we have to say, 'So long.'"

    That show ended many years ago, and I expect that "So long" is not now used nearly as much as "See you later." Still, if someone were to say good-bye by saying "So long," I doubt that most Americans would see anything odd in it.

    On the other hand, I would say that "Adieu" is no longer used in American English except when imitating older forms of English since it now sounds old-fashioned to us.
  7. troubadourz New Member

    English - American
    I read somewhere that "so long" comes originally from gaelic "se lange" which was wishing one good health. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
  8. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Hello Troubadourz ~ Welcome to the forum:)
    Well, my slang dictionary speculates that it might be from the Hebrew shalom ('hello/goodbye') or even selah ('God be with you').

    EDIT ~ Just remembered. The Gaelic equivalent of Cheers! is [approximate spelling] Slàinte, pronounced approximately ['slawn-tchuh], so I wouldn't rule that theory out altogether.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
  9. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I haven't heard 'so long' in a long time and am only reminded of The Sound of Music (the song: 'So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night'). I don't hear farewell either. Byeee as alacant says. Even the multi-purpose cheers. In Scotland, you hear a lot of cheer-o's (note: not cheerio).
  10. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I don't think I've ever in my life heard anyone say Adieu (except in the song Nat mentions).
  11. HistofEng Senior Member

    New York
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    ^^ Not even in the expression "I bid you adieu" where "adieu" sounds more like "ado"?
  12. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I generally avoid people who use expressions like I bid you adieu, Hist:D
  13. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Only when I'm facetious. I know a couple of people who would say 'Greetings' and 'Greetings and salutations' when I go past them. I could imagine chatting and then ending it with 'I bid you farewell/adieu'. Definitely not for ordinary use.
  14. senor incognito New Member

    English - Ireland
    'Sa lange' is norwegian, Slán is the obvious Gaelic origin:
    It has yet to be accepted as official but it's certainly the best candidate of the bunch. I cant put a link on this site but if you google 'stuffinthangs' and 'etymology' I explain it in quite a lot of detail.
  15. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Here is the Online Etymology Dictionary on so long, which mentions German, Hebrew, Scandinavian, Arabic and Irish Gaelic:

    (my boldening)
  16. senor incognito New Member

    English - Ireland
    It is mentioned, but (unlike the Scandinavian) it is spelled as an English word, without the fada (accent)or any reference to the pronunciation('slawn') and then erroneously described as a toast or salutation*-which is not how it's used. It's most often used in one of three ways: 'Slán Leat', 'Slán Abhaile' and more often as 'Slán'; all three are ways of saying 'Goodbye'.

    *As Ewie points out: the toast and salutation in Irish is 'Sláinte' (English pronunciation 'slawnchah') meaning 'Health'.
    Last edited: May 11, 2011

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