How To Say Hello Around the World

Caitlin Nicholson

Say Hello Around the World

November 21st is World Hello Day. One might find this holiday to be a bit obscure at first glance, but its premise is a good one. People are encouraged to participate by greeting ten people. The greetings help demonstrate that communication is essential in promoting peace.

There are estimates that there are over 6,500 languages spoken in the world today. With so many to choose from, we chose ten to start.

HOW TO SAY HELLO AROUND THE WORLD

CHINESE (MANDARIN)

Mandarin is the world’s most widely spoken language, and the most common greeting is below.

Simplified Chinese characters: 你好

Latin alphabet: Ni hao

Pronunciation:  Nee HaOW

SPANISH

Spanish has official status in 20 countries worldwide. There are over 470 million native speakers and about 90 million who speak Spanish as a second language.

Latin alphabet: Hola

Pronunciation: OH-lah

HINDI

Hindi is the fourth most spoken language in the world behind Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and English. Below is the most universal greeting to use in India (where Hindi is one of the official languages).

Latin alphabet: Namaste

Devanagari script: नमस्ते

Pronunciation: nuh-MUH-stay

ARABIC

Modern Standard Arabic is what is used in writing and formal speech. It has official status in 27 countries concentrated in the Middle East and North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Arabic script: السلام عليكم

Latin alphabet: Al salaam a’alaykum

Pronunciation: Ahl sah-LAHM ah ah-LAY-koom

PORTUGUESE

Below, you can learn the best way to say “Good day” to those living in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe and Portuguese-speaking communities worldwide.

Latin alphabet: Bom dia

Pronunciation: bohn DEE-ah

RUSSIAN

Russian is the largest native language in Europe. Below are both formal and informal ways to greet someone in Russian. (The informal greeting is equivalent to Hi in English.)

Latin alphabet: Zdravstvuite (formal) / Privet (informal)

Cyrillic alphabet: Здравствуйте (formal) / привет (informal)

Pronunciation: ZDRAST-vwee-tye  / pri-VET

JAPANESE

Below is the most standard way of saying “hello” in Japanese. It can be used for anyone, regardless of social status.

Latin alphabet: Konnichiwa

Japanese script: 今日は (kanji) / こんにちは (hirigana)

Pronunciation: Koh-NEE-chee-wah

GERMAN

German is the first language of 95 million people, and it is a widely taught foreign language in both the United States and the European Union. Learn how to say hello in German both formally and informally!

Latin alphabet: Guten Tag (formal) / Hallo (informal)

Pronunciation: GOOT-en Tahk / Hah-LOH 

INDONESIAN

Indonesia boasts the world’s fourth largest population (behind China, India, and the United States). Indonesian is the lingua franca (bridge language, common language) of this island nation. You can actually say “hello” or “hi” when you want to greet someone informally.  Below are more formal greetings that are used at the appropriate times of each day. Each greeting begins with Selemat (pronounced suh-lah-mat)

Good day: Selamat siang (suh-lah-mat see-ahng)

Good morning: Selamat pagi (suh-lah-mat pah-gee)

Good afternoon: Selamat sore (suh-lah-mat sore-ee)

Good evening:  Selamat malam (suh-lah-mat mah-lahm)

FRENCH

French is a global language with official status in 29 countries throughout the world.

Latin alphabet: Bonjour

Pronunciation: Bon-zhoor

See below if you are looking for a less formal way to say hello (equivalent to Hi in English).

Latin alphabet: Salut

Pronunciation: sah-LOO

Related Resources

12 Interesting Facts About Languages
Blog: 12 Interesting Facts About Languages
The Funniest Examples of Translation Gone Wrong
Blog: The Funniest Examples of Translation Gone Wrong
Don’t Fail at Labeling and Packaging Translation!
Blog: Don’t Fail at Labeling and Packaging Translation!