“Yes”, “listening”, “attentively” – there are many ways to notify the interlocutor on the other side of the handset about the start of a telephone conversation. But the most popular is still “hello”. For the Russian language, it sounds rather strange, and one might suspect a foreign origin in it. Let’s figure out where the word “ALLO” came from, and what they say instead of it in other countries.
The first “hello”
The prototype of the word, which, years later, will sound like “hello”, was first proposed by Thomas Edison, the same American inventor of the light bulb. What does Edison have to do with the phone being invented by another American – Alexander Bell? It’s pretty simple. Edison was also a very successful businessman, engaged in patents and actively refining other people’s inventions.
He collaborated with Bell and promoted his newfangled, but very promising phone. This type of communication was new, and a lot had to be invented from scratch. Edison and Bell wanted to make telephone communication more formal and set some standards. Among other things, a word was needed that would indicate the beginning of a conversation.
Alexander Bell offered a sonorous ahoy – this is how the ships that met each other greeted each other at sea. Edison insisted on using a modified English hello, which sounds like hallo or hullo. And either Edison’s version sounded more familiar, or it played the role of a letter listing the advantages of such an option, with which the inventor flunked the president of the Pittsburgh telegraph company, but the essence remains the same – the words hallo and hullo stuck.
Even in the English version, the letter “h” is barely sounding and is pronounced aspirated. In many other European languages, it disappears altogether. The phone came to Russia not directly from America, but in transit from Europe. Specifically, France, where not only the “h” disappeared, but the letter “o” acquired a characteristic soft sound. This is how the already familiar “hello” and “hello” were born.
What they say abroad
The word “hello” in various variations is pronounced in many countries, but not in all. Somewhere the national flavor turned out to be much stronger. So, when you contact a person from Portugal, you are more likely to hear the word “pronto” meaning readiness. A Chinese man will tell you “wei” into the phone – this is a rather formal “hey”.
In Israel, along with “hello”, the national greeting “shalom” is used, the same is true in Arab countries with the word “markhaba” – the universal “hello”. An unusual variant in Kazakhstan, it is pronounced as “tyndap turmyn” – literally “I am listening.” And the funniest thing for the Russian ear is used in Japan, this is the phrase “moshi-moshi” – “I listen.”