As we all know, there are tons of greetings in English, such as “Hello!” “Hi!” “Hey!” “Good morning!” “Good afternoon!” “Good evening!” as well as “How are you?” “How do you do?” The Chinese language is the same: we also have different sayings to greet someone. But different sayings should be used under different circumstances.
Greetings In Formal Circumstances…
As known to us all, “Hello” is the English expression for greetings in the most formal circumstances, such as greetings exchanged during people’s first meeting or greetings at the beginning of a business negotiation. “Hello” is translated as “你好” in Chinese. What’s more, “你好” is also used when elderly people greet each other.
Greetings Between Different Generations…
It is different when an elder greets a young person and when young people greet the elderly.
An elder people will usually say “你好” when he greets a young person, which hopefully you remember from the first circumstance we talked about just now.
However, a youth will greet one who is elder than him in another way to express his respect. He will greet by saying “您好！” “您”means the same as “你”, both meaning “you” in Chinese. But “您” sounds more polite and decent than “你.”
Greetings Between People Who Know Each Other Well…
Americans greet someone whom they know well with “hi” or “hey.” “嗨.” The interesting thing is that we have two Chinese characters with exactly both the same meaning and the same pronunciation in Chinese.
Check this out. “嗨” stands for “hi” while “嘿” means “hey.”
Some “Weird” Greetings In Chinese…
The above greetings don’t show too many differences between the Chinese and American cultures.
Americans will feel offended when they are asked by a friend where they are going or what they are going to do. They will consider these questions quite personal and private. So you may find these Chinese greetings quite frustrating and weird.
Usually, we Chinese greet friends without directly saying “hi” or the like. Rather, we ask a question. such as “干嘛去？”which means “What are you going to do?”“去哪儿呀？”which means “Where are you going?” or “吃了吗？” which means “Have you eaten?”
See how interesting that is? It is always interesting to learn about a different culture when we learn a different language.
Got more GREETINGS to share with us?
Your comments and ideas are warmly welcomed from the bottom of my heart!