Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on February 19, 2011

When you answer the phone, many people say “hello”. ( “How may I direct your call” is an obscenity.) There are many versions of how this custom started. The rumor that hello is a polite version of hell no is unsubstantiated.

NPR published a story on hello the other day. The term is an English version of a German word, and was first published in 1827. Wikipedia notes an 1833 story, “The Sketches and Eccentricities of Col. David Crockett, of West Tennessee”). At first, it was used as a mild oath, as in , “Hello, get out of my woodpile before I hurt you”.

In the late 19th century, the invention of the telephone changed things. Alexander Graham Bell recommended ahoy to answer the phone. Thomas Edison preferred hello. Early phone books had instructions on how to answer the phone, and they recommended saying hello. The greeting stuck.

At first, the suggested ending to a phone conversation was “That is all”. For some reason this did not catch on, with Good Bye, (and the wretched Bye Bye), becoming the preferred ending. Good Bye is a contraction of “G-d be with you”, and was considered, by some, to be inappropriate for use with the new device.

HT for this story goes to Andrew Sullivan . Pictures are from ” The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”.

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  1. Hello | Chamblee54 said, on February 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    […] of “G-d be with you”, and was considered, by some, to be inappropriate. This repost has pictures from The Library of […]

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