Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You say goodbye and I say hello

I am sure the Beatles must have come to the Dominican Republic when they wrote that song.

The Dominicans must be the most friendly nation on earth, and whenever you pass someone in the street, the least you do is say "hello" or wrinkle your nose or shake their hand. However, I have noticed that when I say 'hola' the response is "adios" which means goodbye. I suppose there is no less reason to say goodbye as opposed to hello as you are walking past someone, but I am not sure if I am supposed to say "adios" too.

There are a whole range of other greetings. I could say "buen dia" which means good day, or, more likely, shorten it to "buenos". I could say "entonces" which means "so", but you don't wait for the answer. Another option would be "Que dice ese hombre?" which means "what does this man say?" I have heard men use that more than women so I haven't tried that one yet.

Often people will say,"Como va todo?" which is "How is everything?"


But what I really want to know when I walk past someone is if I say hello should the response be goodbye, or hello. And should I say goodbye instead of hello?

Anyone know the answer?

22 comments:

  1. I nearly always say 'hola' or 'buenos dias' or 'buenos tardes' but nearly all of my neigbhours will say 'adios' or, even more proudly, 'bye bye' so I too am confused!

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  2. El "adiós" se usa generalmente si vas de paso. Ves a alguien y lo saludas "adios" porque no te vas a parar, so, adios xD

    Dices hola si puedes pararte para una pequeña charla de aunque sea un minuto.

    Al menos así lo manejo yo :)

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    1. Muchas gracias. Entiendo al fin! For those who don't speak Spanish you say goodbye if you are not going to stop and hello if you are going to stop and chat even for a minute. At last I get it!

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  3. Something I miss about Ireland is that everyone greets each other as they pass by. Even in cars, you waggle a finger at drivers coming the other way or pedestrians you pass. I still do this to the puzzlement of French people and rarely get a response although some of the locals are used to me now, and smile or wave or reply. I hate the English way of walking past ignoring everyone so I shall stick to being friendly with a smile or gesture, even if it makes people think I'm the village idiot!
    I can't help with the hello/goodbye dilemma I'm afraid. Here the main problem is knowing when bonjour should become bon après midi or even bonsoir. There seem to be rules I don't know about yet!

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    1. Strange isn't it that some countries are more friendly than others? I found out the rule about Hello and Goodbye in the comment above, so I will try that one. It is one of the problems of being an expat, even if you think you speak the language there are so many unwritten rules. I think I break at least one a day!

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    2. From my experience in France you say bonjour until late in the afternoon, after lunch (about 3-4) it's good to say bonne après-midi and after around 7-9 it's appropriate to say bon soir, at least that's what I've learnt :)

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  4. I also like to smile or say hello to people as I walk by someone in the street, and generally I get greeted too which is nice in a big city like Perth, but most Australians are friendly anyway.
    It makes sense the Adios and Hola thing!

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    1. We have three friendly countries now then! DR, Ireland and Australia. I wonder what they have in common? Do the Australians say "g'day mate" like they do in the films?

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  5. I love it when you go into the bank and you're standing in a line waiting for the only available cashier to finish her personal call. Every customer who walks into the bank says Good Morning as they walk in, and now I find myself doing it. I can only imagine how weird people would think you were if you walked into a bank and said Good Morning in a loud voice in the UK.

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    1. I love that too. You say good morning when you get on the bus, good morning in the bank or any other shop, good morning in the colmado. Is one of the things I love about this country. You should try it next time you go to the UK!

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  6. Lifts/ elevators are reasonably uncommon in the area of the DR in which I live but a while ago I spent a lot of time visiting in the Union Medica hospital in Santiago and there they have lifts to the many different floors.

    It surprised me at first that whenever anyone got into the lift they automatically greeted all fellow passengers and bid goodbye when they exited at their required level!

    Definitely can't say that happened or would be welcomed in UK!!

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    1. No definitely not in the UK! There everyone looks anywhere so as not to make eye contact!

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  7. It happened to me whenever I drop my son to school. In fact, this morning, I said "hola" to his PE teacher and he replied to me with "adios". Quiite funny after reading this blog.

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  8. I loved this post and your Blog is really interesting!!!
    Wow.. I never though that the hello goodbye thing even so I used it everyday!! But "Yo soy" explained really good!!
    I'm a Dominican and now I'm living in Taiwan.. and for me was really really strange when we try to say hi to people and have no response.. for us (Not all but almost everyone) is really important this kind of things, when we don't get a response back we usually think the other people is being rude.. so now that they know i always say Ni Hao! they also response like this.. Taiwanese are nice people.. But Most of them are shy...

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    1. I have never been to Taiwan - there can't be many Dominicans there, or are there?

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  9. "Adios" in this context (passing by someone on the other side of the street and waving the hand at them) doesn't literally mean "goodbye"... It is more like "Hey!"... It is a subtle difference, but in the head of a native speaker of (Dominican) spanish (at least in my head) when I hear or say "adios" in this context, it doesn't trigger the same understanding as "adios" when I am saying goodbye after talking to someone. It is the same word, but the internal interpretation in your brain is different, as if they were 2 different words...

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    1. Thanks for this. I still have so much to learn!

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    2. You are welcome... I was looking for a similar example in English... There are many, for instance: I like this book... vs ... I will book this trip... The word "book" completely means something different in your brain and you don't see or think of the picture of a book, when you say "I will book this trip"... in the brain the concepts are totally separate...and felt and understood different...(at least for a native speaker)... I don't think "goodbye" when I wave "adios" to a passerby... I think "hey!" as I mentioned... This is why it is so hard to understand and "feel" poetry in a language that is not your own...

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    3. Great I understand it perfectly now. I need to keep on working with my Spanish - I never speak English in the house but I am sure I keep making the same mistakes over and over again!

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