Friday, 6 February 2015

Did English get the word 'Hello' from Hungarian?

Ever wondered where the word 'hello' comes from? Opinions divide, as they often do, but here is a version that I quite like. And I won't even try to hide the fact that I'm biased...

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 "holà", from "ho", an interjection to attract attention, and "là", 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?)

Source: Did English get the word 'Hello' from Hungarian?:

No comments:

Post a Comment