“You had me at Hello!” - it’s not just applicable for Jerry Maguire! When traveling in exotic countries that speak different languages, greeting the locals in their native tongue will immediately endear them to you and open a lot of doors! Knowing how to say Hello in other languages is an essential skill for travelers, especially for English speaking travelers.
English, while being the global language, is only spoken natively in a few countries, namely England, Scotland (constituents of the United Kingdom), Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, a few West Indian nations. So, even though a large number of people across the planet speak English, everyone has a special place in their heart for their mother tongue!
Thus, while they may understand you perfectly when you greet them in English, especially as the English word ‘hello’ has become near-ubiquitous globally, saying hello in different languages is an invaluable technique to instantly make a connection with locals, and show them that you are not just a run of the mill tourist! Trust us when we say they will certainly respect you more if you know how to say hello in different languages!
To that end, we have compiled this handy guide that will teach you how to say hello in different languages, fifteen of them! Every language has a word analogous to hello, which they use as a hello, and today we will teach you some of those words.
Some languages have different greetings for formal and casual situations, in which case we will include them all! Also, check out this video on how to say hello in different languages. We will also include a little note on the features and usage of the language, as well as the countries where they are spoken!
Mandarin Chinese is one of the most spoken languages on Earth, with more than 1 billion speakers worldwide! It is a tonal language, with the standard register based on the dialect spoken in Beijing. Since the 14th century, some form or the other of Mandarin has served as the lingua franca of China.
Today it serves as an official language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore, as well as one of the six working languages of the United Nations. In China, it is known as Pǔtōnghuà. There is also vast Chinese diaspora, especially in the US and Australia. Click here to know more about our language translation services.
As China is a country where English is not spoken very widely, a few basic words in Mandarin are a necessity to travel there. In informal situations, hello in Mandarin is Nǐ hǎo, and for formal situations, it is Nǐn hǎo.
With more than 500 million speakers, Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It is spoken in all continents, across more than 20 countries. It is a Romance language descended from Latin, with significant Arabic influence, and is the third most spoken language on the Internet after English and Chinese.
The countries where it is spoken officially are Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Equatorial Guinea, not to mention significant minorities in United States, Brazil, and the Philippines! It is also one of the six official working languages of the United Nations!
Surely a language that is so widespread and has so much heritage warrants some basic knowledge of it. The informal hello in Spanish is ¿Qué tal?, while in formal settings, it is Hola!
Arabic has over 300 million speakers, and Arabs are the second-largest single ethnic group on the planet! As the official language of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Mauritania, Chad, Comoros, and Djibouti, as well as one of the six official working languages of the United Nations.
This range, spanning from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf, as well as its status as the holy language of Islam, makes it one of the most influential languages in human history. It has several different dialects, with all being united through a single standardized form based on the language of the Quran, called Modern Standard Arabic.
In Arabic, a formal hello is Asalaam Alaikum (to which the reply is Wa Alaikum as-salaam), and an informal hello is (also the hello in Turkish) Merhaba.
With almost 280 million speakers, French is a significant European Romance language that evolved from Latin. Due to past French imperialism, it is spoken in many parts of the world outside Europe, including large parts of Africa. In fact, a demographic study projected that due to African population growth, the total number of French speakers would reach 500 million by 2025!
It is an official language in France, Belgium, Canada, Seychelles, Pondicherry in India, Vanuatu, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Djibouti, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Switzerland, Togo, Rwanda, Burundi, Madagascar, Monaco, Luxembourg, Ivory Coast, Haiti, Louisiana in USA, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Comoros, Chad, Central African Republic, as well as a working language of the United Nations!
A significant language of culture, art, and science, French is a hugely influential language that has been considered a language of love and philosophy. It was once the language of diplomacy in Europe too. In formal French, hello is said as Bonjour, while in the informal language, it is Salut.
Russia is a Slavic language that holds the distinguished spot of being the most spoken native language in Europe, with over 250 million speakers. A dominant language of science and culture, due to being the official language of the former superpower the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union), it has a considerable influence across the world.
It is spoken in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Israel with varying levels of fluency, as well as being the second most spoken language on the Internet, and a working language of the United Nations.In Russian, a formal hello is Zdravstvuyte, while a casual hello is Privet.
German is a Germanic language spoken in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg and has more than 100 million speakers. Notable for its wide variety of dialects, German is a pluricentric language that has no standard version. It is a significant language of commerce and education in Europe. While it did not descend from Latin, it has been heavily influenced by it, and a considerable part of the German vocabulary is borrowed from Latin. It is also known as a major language of science and philosophy in its own right.
In formal German, hello is Guten Tag, while in informal usage, a German hello is simply Hallo! This is because both German and English are Germanic languages, and are closely related.
Japanese is the primary language of Japan, where around 120 million people speak it. It is a language isolate, meaning it is not related to any other language on Earth! However, due to historical reasons, it has a lot of influence and borrowed words from Ancient Chinese. This influence takes the form of a large amount of vocabulary borrowed from Chinese, as well as using Chinese characters to write Japanese.
In fact, Japanese has three writing systems, which are called kanji, hiragana, and katakana! In recent times, some words from Western languages have entered the language too. The Japanese language is famous for poetic forms like the haiku.Due to Japanese’s complex system of hierarchy, it is crucial to know when to use informal and formal hello. The formal hello in Japanese is Konnichiwa, and the informal hello is Yā.
Also known as Hindustani, this is a fascinating situation, as both Hindi and Urdu are essentially the same languages, with just the choice of vocabulary differing. Hindi has more Sanskrit based vocabulary, while Urdu has more Persian based vocabulary. However, both are completely intelligible to speakers of the other!
This language has a long and rich history as the vehicle of empires, culture, and trade in the Indian subcontinent. That is why it has a large number of both first and second language speakers, both totaling more than 600 million speakers! It is widely understood across the Indian subcontinent and beyond, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Fiji, Mauritius, and the Caribbean, as well as the global Indian diaspora!
You can greet people in Hindustani by saying Namaskar or Namaste.
Malay is an Austronesian language spoken in huge swathes of Southeast Asia. Coincidentally, it is related to the language spoken in Madagascar! It developed as the trade language of the Spice Islands in the medieval period and therefore has a huge amount of Arabic, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Chinese vocabulary.
This language has more second-language speakers than native speakers, both totaling around 250 million. It is also called by different names in the different countries it is spoken in, but the differences are minor. It is spoken in Malaysia (as Bahasa Malaysia), Indonesia (as Bahasa Indonesia), Singapore, East Timor, Brunei, and parts of Thailand and the Philippines.
For formal situations, the Malay hello is Selamat Siang, while for casual settings, it is Salam!
Also known as Kiswahili, this is one of the newest languages on this list, being born around 1700. Swahili was formed as a result of trade between African tribes and Arab merchants, and that is why this language has a massive amount of Arabic loanwords. Today it is the main bridge language of Eastern Africa, and is said to be the easiest African language for an English speaker to learn!
One interesting feature of this language is that very few speak it as a first language (only around 2 million), with it being mostly a second language (150 million!). It is now spoken in Kenya, Tanzania, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, and Mozambique.
A formal hello in Swahili is Habari, and an informal hello is Hujambo.
Italian is a Romance language descended from Latin, and with around 90 million speakers is the fourth largest language of the European Union. It is official in Italy, San Marino, Malta, Vatican City, and Switzerland.
Italian is one of the closest living languages to Latin and is famous as the language of music, fashion, and food. Almost all Italian words end in vowels, which makes rhyming in Italian quite easy, and has spread the fame of Italian poetry worldwide.
A formal hello in Italian is Salve, and informal hello is Ciao (which also means bye!).
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken by around 80 million people across India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia. It has the distinction of being one of the oldest continuously spoken languages in existence, being over 2000 years old!
Tamil is known for its rich body of literature and poetry and is considered the personification of God by some Tamils. Although Sanskrit has heavily influenced it, Tamil is one of the most distinctive and unique languages on Earth.
A hello in Tamil is called Vanakkam.
Persian is the official language of Iran (called Farsi), Afghanistan (where it is called Dari), and Tajikistan (where it is known as Tajik). Spoken by more than 100 million people, it is widely renowned as a major language of art and culture, as well as poetry.
Its influence has spread far beyond its modern borders, as it was a prestige language for various empires across the Middle East and South Asia. It is the holy language of Zoroastrianism, as well as a major language across the Muslim world. It has been spoken since ancient times in various forms.
A formal hello in Persian is Salaam, while an informal hello is Dorood.
Greek is a truly legendary language, having an extremely long documented history, and being the language of Aristotle, Plato and Alexander the Great! Even today, it is spoken by around 13 million people in Greece, Cyprus, and the diaspora.
Greek has long been considered the language of philosophy and science, and today, a large number of scientific terms in English are derived from Greek! This language has been used as a bridge language in such diverse regions as Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and even as far as India! The long history and tradition of this language make it truly one of a kind.
In Greek, a formal hello is Kalimera, and the informal hello is Yasou.
We hope you liked this blog on how to say hello in different languages helpful and interesting. The greetings in some languages, such as the Spanish Hola, Persian Salâm, German Guten Tag, Chinese Nǐ hǎo, or the French Bonjour, are quite famous and well known, but some of the other languages in this list are not so renowned.
This is a shame as these are major world languages in their own right, and learning how to say hello in them is sure to be very useful. If you want to learn more about a non-conventional, then read about Australian Sign Language here.
So do learn the different ways to say hello in different languages, for your own utility, as well as to imbibe the rich cultural heritage of the above languages. Google translate is not the way to impress locals! Thank you for reading, and be sure to watch this space regularly for more great and engaging content!