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How to say ‘Hello!’ around the world

Image showing the word hello.

How to say ‘Hello!’ in the thousands of languages across the globe.

The oldest known written language is Sumerian, dating back to at least 3,500 BC, with the Egyptian language first being discovered in 3,400 BC.

Now in 2020, there are roughly 6,500 languages spoken in the world today, some more widely than others. Ranging from Mandarin, which is spoken by 918 million to Dumi, a language only spoken by 7,600 people.

Many of us have sat down at least once to have a go at learning one of these languages, with English being the most studied language across the globe.

Yet, while roughly half of the world’s population can only speak their native tongue (with many of us only taking the time to learn the phrase “nice to meet you” for our next business meeting), the word ‘Hello!’ can open many doors in any country.

That’s why we decided to find out how to say ‘hello’ across the world, and with the variety of languages, pronunciations and alphabets, the results we saw were astonishing.

World map showing how people say hello

Unsurprisingly, Mandarin is one of the most spoken languages, with ‘Ni Hao’ being the most common greeting in Mandarin in Northern and Southwestern China, as well as Singapore and Taiwan.

Hindi is also high on the list, being spoken in India, Nepal and Mauritius. If you happen to be in one of these countries and need to make a good first impression, be ready to say ‘Namaskaar’.

You might need to have a few of these greetings written down if you are in Africa, as there are over 2,000 distinct languages spoken; that’s compared to Europe’s much smaller 300!

Swahili is the most widely spoken language in Africa, with it being the official language of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. If you want to impress your business friends or customers, say ‘Hujambo!’

French is also spoken in many countries across Africa, so having ‘Bonjour!’ in your repertoire is always helpful.

If you are in Asia, ‘Marhabaan’ is the best way to say hello to people in Arabic, as this is the most commonly spoken language on the entire continent, after Mandarin.

One of the least spoken languages across the world is the northeastern division of the Eskimo languages of the Inuits, mainly spoken in Greenland, Alaska and Canada.

So if you’re ready to immerse yourself in a brand new culture, saying ‘Atelihai’ to your guide is a great way to start.

If you are working with businesses or customers from Europe, be ready to know plenty of languages! The continent is home to hundreds of them, but it’s Russian that might be at the top of your list. It is spoken by 120 million people, and if you want to strike up a conversation in Russian, ‘Privyet’ is the nicest way to say hello.

If you’re keen to keep impressing, Greece’s language is not only in a different alphabet, it is also the birthplace of many modern European languages. Greeting someone in Greek should go something like: ‘Geia!’.

Now we’ve shown you many ways of saying hello across the world, you’re bound to make a great impression on your colleagues or clients. With so many beautiful cultures and languages across thousands of communities, we decided to challenge you even further with a brainteaser.

Can you spot the phone symbol in this puzzle of ‘Hellos across the world’? Make sure to set a timer before you start to see if you can beat the average record of 52 seconds!

Hello Puzzle Image

Did you find it?

Don’t worry if not, scroll down to see the answer.

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Hello Puzzle Reveal

So, how did you do? Did you beat the average time of 52 seconds, or did it take longer than you expected?

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