How to Say Hello in 100 Languages

Bilingua
Bilingua
May 17, 2017 · 9 min read

A greeting is often the first point of call for human communication, and should be the first phrase you learn from any foreign language. Opening a conversation with a greeting is polite and shows willingness to communicate. Don’t be nervous about saying hello as the effort will usually be appreciated even if you don’t get it quite right! Reading how to greet others in many languages is both rewarding and fun, so here’s a handy list of how to say hello in 100 languages, along with the phonetic pronunciation.

Hello in 100 languages, sorted by continent in alphabetical order.

hello in 100 languages
hello in 100 languages

Africa

Spread over at least six major language families, Africa’s language diversity is incomparable to the rest of the world and includes huge tonal diversity, and even the use of clicks and unique mouth movements to help articulate phrases in certain contexts. Saying ‘Hello’ at least, is fortunately often easy to pronounce!

Afrikaans

  • hallo (hah-loh) — hello

Amharic

  • tena jistilign (teh-nah yihst-ihl-ihgn) — hello (formal)
  • selam (sae-lahm) — hello (informal)

Chichewa

  • moni (moh-nee) / muli bwanji (moo-lee bwahn-jee) — hello

Hausa

  • salama alaikum (sah-lahm-ah ah-lai-koom) — hello (formal)
  • sannu (sahn-noo) — hello (informal)

Igbo

  • ndêwó (in-deh-woh) — hello (formal)
  • kèdú (keh-doh) — hello (informal)

Kinyarwanda

  • muraho (moo-rah-hoh) — hello
  • bite (bee-teh) — hello (informal)

Lingala

  • mbote (mboh-teh) — hello

Luganda

  • ki kati (kee kah-tee) — hello (informal)

Malagasy

  • manao ahoana (man-ow ah-ohn-ah) / salama (sah-lAHm-ah) / akory (ah-kOO-ree)
  • miarahaba (mee-arah-hah-bah) — hello

Ndebele

  • salibonani (sah-lee-boh-nah-nee) — hello

Northern Sotho

  • dumêlang (doo-meh-lang) — hello

Oromo

  • ashamaa (ah-shah-maa) — hello
  • attam (aht-tahm) — hello (informal)

Sesotho

  • dumela (doo-meh-lah) — hello

Shona

  • mhoro (mhoh-roh) — hello (singular)
  • mhoroi (mhoh-roh-ee) — hello (plural)

Swahili

  • jambo (jahm-boh) — hello
  • hujambo (hoo-jahm-boh) — hello

Swati

  • sawubona (sah-woo-boh-nah) — hello

Tigrinya

  • selam (seh-lahm) — hello

Tsonga

  • avuxeni (ah-voo-sheh-nee) — hello (greeting)
  • ahee (ah-hee) — hello (response)

Tswana

  • dumela (doo-meh-lah) — hello

Wolof

  • salaam aleekum (sah-laam ah-ley-koom) — hello

Xhosa

  • molo (maw-law) — hello

Yoruba

  • bawo (bah-woh) — hello

Zulu

  • sawubona (sah-woo-boh-nah) — hello
hello in 100 languages
hello in 100 languages

Asia

Aside from Turkic languages of Central Asia and some Asian languages that were influenced by European colonization, most Asian languages are astoundingly unique and diverse, and there’s less common ground shared with other major language families.

Thai, Lao, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Japanese and Chinese are tonally varied languages, meaning as you speak, pitch changes dramatically alter the meaning of words and phrases. By observing native speakers, you can hear how certain phrases, including greetings, are articulated in their native natural ways.

Armenian

  • barev dzez (bah-REV DZEZ) — hello
  • barev (bah-REV) — hello (informal)

Azerbaijani

  • salam (sah-lam) — hello

Bengali

  • nômoshkar (naw-mo-shkar) — hello (for Hindus)
  • assalamualaikum (ahs-sah-lahmoo-ah-lay-koom) / salam (sah-lahm) — hello (for Muslims)

Burmese

  • mingalarba (min-ga-la-ba) — hello

Cambodian

  • chum reap suor (*) — hello (formal)
  • sous-dey (*) — hello (informal)

Cantonese

  • néih hóu (*) — hello

Chinese

  • nǐ hǎo (nee how) — hello

Dzongkha

  • kuzu-zangpo (koo-zoo-zang-poh) — hello

Georgian

  • gamarjoba (gah-mahr-joh-bah) — hello

Gujarati

  • namaste (nah-mah-steh) — hello
  • kem cho (kem-choh) — hello (lit. How are you?)

Hindi

  • namaste (nah-mah-steh) — hello

Indonesian

  • halo (hah-loh) — hello

Japanese

  • konnichiwa (kohn-nee-chee-wah) — good afternoon / hello

Kannada

  • namaste (nah-mah-steh) / namaskāra (nah-mah-skah-rah) — hello

Kazakh

  • sälemetsiz be? (sah-lem-met-siz beh) — hello (formal)
  • sälem (sah-lem) — hello (informal)

Korean

  • annyeonghaseyo (an-nyee-ong-hah-seh-yo) — hello (formal)
  • annyeong (ah-nyee-ong) — hello (informal)

Kyrgyz

  • salamatsyzby (sah-lam-aht-seez-bee) — hello (formal)
  • salam (sah-lam) — hello (informal)

Lao

  • sabaidee (sah-bai-dee) — hello

Malay

  • selamat pagi (se-lah-maht pah-gee) — good morning
  • selamat petang (se-lah-maht pe-tahng) — good afternoon
  • selamat malam (se-lah-maht mah-lahm) — good night
  • hello (he-loh) — hello
  • hai (hai) — hello (informal)

Malayalam

  • namaskaram (nah-mah-skahr-ahm) — hello (formal)
  • aay (ah-yeh) — hello (informal)

Mongolian

  • sain baina uu (sain bai-na OO) — hello

Nepali

  • namaste (nah-mahs-teh) — hello

Pashto

  • salaam (sah-lahm) — hello
  • khe chare (KHEH chah-reh) — hello (informal)

Punjabi

  • sat sri akal ji (saht sree ah-kahl jee) — hello (formal, Sikh)
  • asalamwalaykum (ah-sah-lahm-wah-lay-koom) — hello (formal, Muslim)
  • sat sri akal (saht sree ah-kahl) — hello (informal, Sikh)
  • salaam (sah-laam) — hello (informal, Muslim)

Sinhala

  • āyubōvan (ah-yuh-boh-van) — hello (formal)
  • halō (ha-loh) — hello (informal)

Tagalog

  • kumusta? (koo-moos-ta) — hello
  • helów (hey-LOW) — hello (informal)

Taiwanese Hokkien

  • lí-hó (lee-hoh) — hello

Tamil

  • vaṇakkam (vah-nahk-kahm) — hello

Tatar

  • isänmesez (ees-aen-meh-sehz) / sawmısız (saw-mis-siz) — hello
  • sälam (sae-lahm) — hello (informal)

Telugu

  • namaskārām (nah-mahs-kaar-am) — hello

Thai

  • sà-wàt-dee (*) — hello

Tibetan

  • tashi delek (tah-shee del-ek) — hello

Urdu

  • āssālam ‘alaykum (ahs-sah-lahm ah-lay-koom) — hello (greeting)
  • wālaikum assalām (wah-lay-koom ahs-sah-lahm) — hello (response)
  • salām (sah-lam) — hello (informal)

Uyghur

  • ässalamu läykum (aes-sah-lahm-oo lae-koom) — hello (greeting)
  • wä’äläykum ässalam (wae-aelae-koom aes-sah-lahm) — hello (response)
  • yahshimusiz (yah-shih-moo-sihz) — hello (informal)

Uzbek

  • assalomu aleykum (ahs-sah-lo-moo ah-lay-koom) — hello (formal)
  • salom (sah-lom) — hello (informal)

Vietnamese

  • xin chào (sin chow) — hello
hello in 100 languages
hello in 100 languages

Europe

Romance, Germanic and Slavic languages are the three major Indo-European language families and there is a lot of overlapping vocabulary and word formation. Through the Latin and Greek formations and derivations of many words and phrases, you will see many similarities between the European greetings in this list.

Albanian

  • tungjatjeta (toon-jah-TYEH-tah) — hello (formal)
  • tjeta (TYEH-tah) — hello (informal)

Basque

  • kaixo (kai-sho) — hello

Belarusian

  • vitaju (vee-TAH-you) — hello

Breton

  • demat (de-mat) — hello / good day

Bulgarian

  • zdravejte (zdrah-VEY-teh) — hello (formal)
  • zdravej (zdrah-VEY) — hello (informal)

Bosnian

  • dobar dan (DOH-bahr dahn) — good day
  • zdravo (ZDRAH-voh) / merhaba (MEHR-hah-bah) — hello (informal)

Catalan

  • hola (OH-lah) — hello

Croatian

  • bok (bohk) — hello

Czech

  • dobrý den (DOH-bree dehn) — good day
  • ahoj (ahoy) — hello

Danish

  • hallo (ha-loh) — hello
  • hej (hai) — hi/hey

Dutch

  • hallo (HAH-low) — hello

Estonian

  • tere (TEHR-reh) — hello

Finnish

  • hyvää päivää (HOO-vah PAI-vah) — good day
  • terve (TEHR-veh) — hello
  • moi (moy) / hei (hay) — hey

French

  • bonjour (bohn-ZHOOR) — hello / good day
  • salut (sah-LOO) — hello (informal)

Frisian

  • goeie (GOO-ee) — hello

Irish

  • dia duit (DEE-ah GHWIT) — hello

Gaelic

  • halò (ha-lo) — hello

German

  • guten tag (goo-ten tahk) — good day / hello
  • hallo (ha-loh) — hello (informal)

Greek

  • yasass (YAH sahss) — hello (formal)
  • yassou (YAH soo) — hello (informal)

Hungarian

  • szervusz (SEHR-voos) — hello
  • szia (SEE-ah) — hello (informal)

Icelandic

  • góðan dag (goh-than da-yin) — good day
  • halló (ha-loh) — hello
  • (hai) — hi

Italian

  • buon giorno (bwohn JOHR-noh) — good day/hello
  • salve (SAHL-veh) — hello (formal)
  • ciào (chow) — hello (informal)

Latvian

  • sveika (SVEH-kah) — hello (to a male)
  • sveiks (SVEH-eeks) — hello (to a female)

Lithuanian

  • labas (LAH-bahs) — hi
  • sveikas (SVAY-kahs) — hello (to a male)
  • sveika (svay-KAH) — hello (to a female)
  • sveiki (svay-KEE) — hello (plural)

Luxembourgish

  • moïen (moy-en) — hello

Norwegian

  • god dag (goo dahg) — hello
  • hei (hay) — hi

Polish

  • dzień dobry (jeen doh-bree) — good day / hello
  • cześć (cheshch) — hello

Portuguese

  • olá (oh-lAH) — hello

Romanian

  • salut (sah-LOOT) — hello

Russian

  • zdravstvuyte (ZDRAHST-vooy-tyeh) — hello
  • privet (pree-VYEHT) / zdorovo (zduh-ROH-vuh) — hello (informal)

Serbian

  • zdravo (ZDRAH-voh) — hello

Slovak

  • dobrý deň (OH-bree deñ) — good day / hello (formal)
  • ahoj (ah-hoy) / čau (chow) — hello (informal)

Slovenian

  • živjo (ZHEE-vyoh) / zdravo (ZDRAH-voh) — hello

Spanish

  • hola (oh-lah) — hello

Swedish

  • hej (heh) — hello

Ukrainian

  • dobriy den (DOH-bree dehn’) — good day / hello
  • vitayu (vee-TAH-yoo) — hello (formal)
  • pryvit (prih-VEET) — hello (informal)

Welsh

  • helo (he-loh) — hello
  • s’mae (s-my/shoo-my) — hello (informal)

Yiddish

  • a gutn tog (a goo-ten tawg) — good day / hello
  • sholem-aleykhem (shoh-lem ah-leh-khem) — hello (greeting)
  • aleykhem-sholem (ah-leh-khem shoh-lem) — hello (response)
hello in 100 languages
hello in 100 languages

Middle East

Middle Eastern languages are far removed from Indo-European languages and therefore, overlap is scarce. However, Middle Eastern greetings are often short and simple, and many are very similar to each other!

Arabic

  • as-salām ‘alaykum (ahs-sahlahm ‘ah-leh-loom) — hello (formal)
  • marhaban (mahr-hah-bahn) / ahlan (ah-lahn) — hello (informal)

Hebrew

  • shalom (shah-LOHM) — hello

Kurdish (Kurmanji)

  • merheba (mer-he-bah) / silav (see-lav) — hello

Persian

  • salâm (sah-laam) / dorud (doh-rood) — hello

Turkish

  • merhaba (mehr-hah-bah) — hello
  • selam (sel-um) — hello (informal)

Oceania

The primary Oceanic language family, the Austronesian language family, covers some Asian languages too like Malay, Indonesian, and Tagalog. Austronesian languages are fairly easy to pronounce, and often feature short and snappy, monosyllabic phrases for ‘hello’.

Fijian

  • ni sa bula (nee sah boo-lah) — hello
  • bula (boo-lah) — hello (informal)

Hawaiian

  • aloha (ah-loh-hah) — hello

Maori

  • tēnā koe (teh-nah koy) — hello (to one person)
  • tēnā kōrua (teh-nah kaw-roo-uh) — hello (to two people)
  • tēnā koutou (teh-nah koh-toh) — hello (to three or more people)
  • kia ora (kee-ah aw-rah) — hello (informal)

Marshallese

  • yokwe (YAW-kweh) — hello

Palauan

  • alii (ah-LEE) — hello

Samoan

  • tālofa (tah-low-fah) — hello
  • malō (mah-loh) — hello (informal)

Tahitian

  • ia ora na (ee-ah oh-rah-na) — hello

Tok Pisin

  • gude (goo-deh) — hello

Tongan

  • mālō e lelei (mah-loh ah leh-leh) — hello

So there it is, how to say Hello in 100 languages. If you thought that was a long list then consider that there are upwards of 6,500 languages in the world!

The diversity of language is truly a fantastic human accomplishment and it’s great to explore the vast differences and fascinating similarities in how we greet each-other — the universal way of starting conversation. It’s insightful to see from this list how some languages include a selection of different greetings, and how some have very short and simple greetings. It’s testament to human creativity that between us all, we have generated so many unique ways of greeting one another.

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Originally published at Bilingua.

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