Hello? Hello? Yes, Nadia speaking.
I thought it was my only form of answering the phone but when I left home to travel across the Middle East, Europe and North America my routine starting to change.
Pronto, Hola, Ja, Hallo, Bueno, Asalam Alekum, Good day, Yellow, ...
Answering the phone became fun. Depending on where I landed I had a new voice. When I spent time studying in Italy and then working, I was thrilled to learn that in Italy they answer the phone by saying “Pronto.” Which means: I’m ready! I took this to my advantage. If a friend was running late, I’d tease, “But you answered that you were ready!”
In Mexico my family would answer calls with “Bueno,” which means good. I always feel pleased because everything starts with “good.” Nothing beats a good hello.
Back over to Germany and Austria answering the phone differed depending on the party on the other line. “Hallo,” “Ja” and “Mayen”: “Hello,” “yes” and “my last name.”
When it was a friend you say “hello,” your family member you say “yes,” and if it was an unknown number you let them know who they’re calling.
In the Middle East where my immediate family lives, we answer with “Hello” and “Yes.” “Hello” to friends and “Yes” to family. “Yes” is to let the family know that I already agree on the call before taking it.
When my Arabic heritage kicks in, I love saying “Asalam Alekum.” “Peace be upon you.” It is a highly respectful and used in the Arab region.
So depending where my feet take me, I answer my phone with a new hello. That’s many hello’s.
(Nadia Idriss Mayen is Executive Producer of Web TV at Al Arabiya English. To say hello to her in about a dozen languages, you can email: email@example.com)