an expression or gesture of greeting —used interjectionally in greeting, in answering the telephone, or to express surprise
Greetings and reciprocal salutations are a demonstration of civility: one can greet by raising one’s hand, nodding one’s head, raising one’s hat, etc. A “low bow” is an act of submission by bowing. Greetings are a set of verbal and non-verbal signals that, when combined, form a system that is immediately understandable to all members of the same culture. Greetings are part of the rituals of politeness and, as such, they obey subtle and highly symbolic rules described at length by Dominique Picard (psychologist) in her book Politesse, savoir-vivre et relations sociales. These rules are inherent to each culture and depend largely on the context of the meeting, the respective status of the people who meet and the relationship of places which links them.
It is often used as a greeting, expressions that wish prosperity such as: buenos días; that include religious allusions: a la buena de Dios or simply with the interjection hola and other familiar expressions. Adiós means A Dios or may the person be with God, but in this case it is used to say goodbye.
Normally the phrases buenos dias/tardes/noches are used in a formal context and as a polite way of greeting, mainly towards authority figures or among business people.
In Argentina and Uruguay and Spain people say “buenos días” or “buen día” before eating and “buenas tardes” after eating. In other countries the change happens depending on the time of day: after 12:00 noon the form “buenas tardes” should be used instead of “buenos días”.
In Ecuador, Mexico and Spain between friends and relatives the greeting is generally completed with a hug or handshake between men; women are usually greeted with a friendly kiss (two in Spain, starting from the left) on the cheek almost always, even at the moment of meeting. Also in Argentina the kiss on the cheek is very common, both between men and women.
Many of these expressions are also used as farewells, in which expressions such as “adiós”, “hasta pronto”, “hasta luego”, “hasta la vista”, “nos vemos”, ciao, chao or chau, etc. can also be used.
For amorous or sentimental expressions, expressions such as “I love you”, “I love you”, “I adore you”, among many others, are normally used.
A typical phrase to greet each other after dinner or before going to sleep is “good night” or “see you tomorrow”.
A very common form of greeting is also the famous “God bless you” used by all those people who profess a Christian faith, it is commonly used to bless others. Before that the other person usually says “Blessing” and after that “Amen”. It is mostly used from children to parents, nephews to uncles, godchildren to godparents and grandchildren to grandparents.
Linguistically, several possibilities of origin are discussed. The first sees an origin from Old High German halōn, Middle High German halen for “call, fetch”. The second possibility would be a relationship with “holla“, the shortened call “Hol über!” to the ferryman. The derivation from “halal” (Hebrew for “praise,” “glorify,” “call out”) is also discussed.
The first word Thomas Alva Edison recorded and played back with the phonograph he invented was a “hello”. However, “Hello” probably only entered the vernacular – at least the German and English vernaculars – with the development and spread of telephones. Edison further developed the telephone, patented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, and with his Hello proposal in 1877 prevailed over Bell, who favored Ahoy as a greeting. Hello was uncommon as a greeting in the U.S. before the 1880s and is said to derive from halloo, a call to a ferryman. In French, allô has retained its origin as a telephone-only greeting; here, “salut” is used instead in personal greetings.
It is also possible, however, that the greeting is of Hungarian origin. When testing the first American telephone exchange developed by Hungarian scientists (Tivadar Puskás), the word hallom (Hungarian: “I hear it”) is said to have been used, or hallod (Hungarian: “do you hear?”).