Say Hello to the World

When people learn a new language, hello is almost always the first word they learn to say in it. However, despite its popularity, the word has a shorter history than we imagine. It is said to have been used for the first time ever in the early 1800s – in 1826 and in writing to be precise – but more to show surprise or to draw attention.

Saying hello became a standard way to greet people only when the telephone came into existence in 1876. American inventor Thomas Edison insisted that people say hello over the telephone when they received phone calls. However, Alexander Graham Bell, who is credited with the invention of the first practical telephone, insisted that people said “Ahoy!” instead. Clearly, people preferred Edison’s way instead.

So, if you wanted to say hello to everybody in the world, how many people would that be? And how many languages would you have to learn?

You would have to learn at least 7,139 languages and say hello to 7.8 billion people! (Source: Ethnologue: Statistics, Worldometer)

Learn more about the Say Hello Project.

Say Hello to the World was created by Lorri Mon.

+ Click for more relevant essays