The new hello and goodbye

Unless you’re a hermit, you won’t have failed to notice the increasing number of people who greet others with a friendly ‘alright’, whether at work, at school or simply passing in the street. I think, in my area at least, I’m one of a small minority who don’t use it as a greeting, preferring the slightly more friendly ‘hey’ or ‘hi’, followed up with an ‘alright’ once the other person has replied. I also answer to an ‘alright’ with a ‘hey’ as well, changing my answer only if I want to have a conversation with the person.

What is it that appeals so much in using ‘alright’ as a greeting? In our fast-paced society, could it be that we simply no longer feel the need to address with a ‘hello’, instead asking the person their feelings straight out? Or is it that we’re more nosy in other people’s business than before, so asking a question helps this. Whatever the reason, there’s no escaping ‘alright’.

The modern departing equivalent, it seems, is ‘see you later’, sometimes shortened just to ‘see you’. Less formal than ‘goodbye’ or even ‘bye’, it gives the impression of a later rendezvous. So far, so good. Except when it’s used when you’ve no intention of seeing the person later or in the near future, it sounds silly. I’m guilty of using this one, actually using ‘catch you later’ if I do intend on seeing the person later. Why, I’ve no idea. I probably picked it up from somewhere, like most of my little speech quirks.

Whatever the origins, alright and see you later are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Whether you like them or not, it seems you’ve got no choice, everyone’s going to ask you if you’re alright even if they don’t care, and see you later even if they don’t.


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