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Hail fellow, well met Hello, how are you? is being increasingly replaced by Hi, where are you?
Hail fellow, well met Hello, how are you? is being increasingly replaced by Hi, where are you?

With people preferring to answering their phones with a hi or yo, is the old faithful, hello, on its way out? wonders SNIGDHA POONAM

“Ocean’s 13”, the opening scene. The movie starts with a robbery at a store. Seconds before breaking open the vault, Rusty’s (Brad Pitt) rings and he answers it with, “yeah”. Look at any number of movies, and notice the phone conversations. People just don’t say “hello” any more.

Whether it is the movies that started the trend, or popular phone culture that prompted the shift in movies, “hello”, the most common verbal greeting in English-speaking countries, is being slowly relegated to history.

Phone habits are set for a revolution. Don’t believe me? Researchers have surveyed 2,000 phone users in Britain — a third of young people aged between 18 and 24 admitted to answering their cell phones with greetings such as “hi”, “yo” or “what’s up” instead of “hello”.

The survey, commissioned by Stewart Fox-Mills, the Head of Telephony at the Post Office, marks 130 years since the Telephone Company was registered in 1878, to exploit Alexander Graham Bell’s invention.

With 330 million cell phone subscribers, and an addition of six million a month, Indians aren’t lagging behind in innovative ways of greeting.

Young people are forever looking for ways to rebel against the cut and dried rules that go with languages and any breakthroughs in the use of language would usually come from the young and the restless. And so too in the field of phone greetings, where the full resonance of innovation can be heard among our rocking rebels.

For Kishen Das, 25, an amateur lepidopterist, the greeting can depend on various factors including the attitude of the caller, whether the number is known, how busy the person at that moment, the location and the current relationship with the caller. “Sometimes you can just say, ‘Man’,” he comments cryptically.

People tend to take more liberties with the greeting if the caller is someone they are comfortable with. The dudes said they tend to go overboard with the salutations if the caller happens to be a close friend.

“Well, I’d usually pick up the call and go like, ‘wassup!’ or ‘yeah, temme...’ If it’s a friend calling after a long time, conversations usually start with, ‘finally!’ or ‘are you alive?’ In extreme cases, it is quite possible to pick up with even curses,” says Rohit Panikker, (22), a Trivandrum-based media person.

Twenty-two-year old Sohini Datta, a writer says: “In Bangalore guys say, ‘What’s up bro’ but it’s usually after ‘hi’.” Given the sheer number of cell phones, another interesting shift is that people no more start a conversation with “Hello, how are you?” This general greeting for generations has been replaced by “Hi, where are you?”

With landlines, people always knew where the callers were, something they can never be sure of now. “I generally say ‘Where are you?’ if it’s a close friend or if the call is expected. It depends on who is calling and the situation,” says Abhimanyu Ghoshal, 20, who works in an advertising agency.

It is also not just the greeting that has undergone an overhaul. Even the traditional farewell phrase, ‘goodbye’ hasn’t survived the vicissitudes of popular language. It is increasingly being substituted with more popular phrases like — ‘take care’, ‘later’ etc.

Remember the 1968 Doors song, which had Jim Morrison crooning “Hello, I love you”? Ever wondered how the song would go if it were to be remixed today?

* * *

GREET LINGO

Hello

Hey, Yello, Yeah, Wotcha, What’s new, Hey there, Hey, what’s up, Howyadoin

Bye

Later, Be good, Take care, So long, Cheers, Hasta, Ciao, See ya, All right then

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