Greetings are a social act of communication. As a cross-cultural phenomenon they are present in the customs of all societies, although they differ in form from one culture to another.

According to ethologists, human beings share these behavioural patterns with the apes. For chimpanzees, for example, greetings form an act of appeasement in which they declare good intentions. For Homo sapiens greetings perform a similar function, determining boundaries when we establish relationships; not carrying greetings out properly can end a social relationship before it has even begun. Regardless of the culture to which we belong, we form impressions and judgments based on greetings.

As a means of codifying discourse, greetings indicate the beginning of communication and establish the role that we occupy in it. The verbal and non-verbal language realized in greetings establishes the rank, status and level of intimacy of the speakers.

Greetings universally convey the different degrees of trust or familiarity that link the speaker to the interlocutor. We will focus, naturally, on the most common verbal greetings in English, classifying them into formal, informal and colloquial types:

Formal Greetings
• Good morning: Buenos días.
• Good afternoon: Buenas tardes.
• Good evening: Buenas noches.
• Hello!: ¡Hola!
• How are you?: ¿Cómo estás/está/están?
• How do you do?: ¿Cómo le va?
• It’s nice to meet you: Mucho gusto.
• It’s nice to see you: Gusto en verte/verlo/verlos.
• Welcome!: ¡Bienvenido/a!

 

Informal Greetings
• Good to see you: Me alegro de verte.
• Hi!, Hey! & Hey there!: ¡Hola!
• How’ve you been?: ¿Cómo te ha ido?
• How are things?: ¿Cómo van las cosas?
• How are you doing?: ¿Cómo va todo?
• How’s it going?: ¿Cómo te/le/les va?
• Long time no see!: ¡Cuánto tiempo sin verte!
• Morning!: ¡Buenos días!
• What’s going on?: ¿Qué hay?
• What’s happening?: ¿Qué pasa?
• What’s new?: ¿Qué hay de nuevo?

 

Colloquial Greetings
• All right!: ¡Qué tal!
• What’s cracking/shaking/cooking?: ¿Qué pasa?
• What’s good?: ¿Qué hay de bueno?
• What’s up?, Sup? & Whazzup?: ¿Qué pasa?
• Yo! & Howdy!: ¡Hola!

 

Due to their ubiquity, many of the aforementioned forms of greeting have even been a source of inspiration for composers, enabling us to call to mind immortal musical pieces. We only need to remember “Hello, Dolly!” by Louis Amstrong from one of the greatest musicals of all time; the memorable “Good morning!” by Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in “Singin ‘in the Rain”; “What’s new Pussycat?” from the Welsh Tiger, Tom Jones; and even “How do you do?”, from the legendary Roxette.

And as there is no greeting without a farewell − no Yin without a Yang − we invite you to join us again next time when we will look at the different forms of Farewells in English.
 
C. Fernández
 
FUENTES:
Ana María Cestero Mancera (Estudios de comunicación no verbal)
Awarenessargentina (El saludo no verbal)