View Full Version : Did English get the word 'Hello' from Hungarian?

03-02-2009, 07:58 PM
Etymology (study of evolution of words/language) can be a very interesting thing.

Consider this:

<<It seems that as Alexander Graham Bell was perfecting the telephone, he called on the invention to his Hungarian assistant, Tivadar Puskas, who answered him "Hallum", or "I hear you" in Hungarian. From then on, this was the accepted way for individuals to answer the telephone, and is the origin of our "Hello". Bell himself favored "Ahoy", but somehow that never caught on. (Puskas went on to introduce the multiplex switchboard, a significant step forward in telephone technology.) However, not all linguistic scholars agree with this novel theory. According to various authorities, one old variant of "hello" is "hollo", which dates back to at least 1588, when Shakespeare used it in his Titus Andronicus (but not as a greeting). "Halloo" was long used as a shout of greeting between passing ships, and one theory is that this gave rise to the use of the word "hello" as a greeting over the telephone and when people meet. Another theory traces the expression to the Middle French "holŕ", from "ho", an interjection to attract attention, and "lŕ", meaning "there". And there are also several cognates in various Germanic languages. The answer may be that the Puskas theory explains the use of "hello" as a greeting, although similar words were used in earlier times as interjections. (In Danish, the greeting is "hej"; in Icelandic it is "hallo", but we do not know how old that usage is. In Choctaw, it is "halito", but no one is saying we got our word from the American-Indians. Perhaps Icelanders and Choctaws got the expression from English?)>> (from The Barnes Review).

03-02-2009, 08:09 PM
'Hullo was never a salutation. It was only used as an exclamation of surprise.'

Source (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hullo)


03-02-2009, 08:21 PM
The Swedish word for Hello, Hallĺ appeared in 1890 preceded by halloh 1821–1889 previous to that I can not find any references and it's origins is uncertain. (listed as such) it is very possible that we got it from english or from some other language.

Hej as you list.. well Hej we use today as a greeting phrase this was due to the misconception during the last national-romantic movement, apparently some university students got the impression that the Vikings used this as a greeting phrase hence they were saying hej to each others.. and then it spread.

really though previous to this and certainly a thousand years ago it was used much as the English word Hey.. as a call for attention.

03-02-2009, 08:23 PM
lol, nice video @ BeornWulfWer.
"When we live our lives like 1950s detectives....":D

If I may make a wild conjecture, is it possible that the gutteral "hah" sound is the most basic form of greeting among humans? Imagine you're a pre-historic caveman, before the development of language. How would you greet someone? I'm thinking it would be a shake of the head and a "hah" or "huh" sound.

07-15-2009, 11:44 PM
Actually, it is hallom ("I a hearing").

There is also the form halló, a participle of the verb hallani ("to hear"), meaning simply. "the one who hears".

04-10-2010, 09:58 PM
Wha'....? I thought it was just common-as-muck Indo-European? Its in some other Germanic languages too under a different spelling.

04-10-2010, 11:17 PM
Hello was originally a question - hence its use when you pick up the phone. Ironically, those who criticise youth-speak for using hello as a question, with a rising tone, don't seem to realise that that's what it always was.

04-11-2010, 12:56 AM
Do you actually read posts before you post?

Anyway, the inflection in modern Britainlanders is down to too much Neighbours, Kylie Minogue and poor education.