Learning to say a few words in another language is a great way to make a favorable first impression when meeting new people. It shows them that you have made an effort to recognize their cultural diversity and reach out to them. Saying hello in their language also gives you an opportunity to laugh together, because they will usually ask, "Oh, do you speak my language?" To which you reply, "No, I only know one word!"

learn language

Image Flickr eric molina

Many languages have formal and informal forms of greetings. If you are among casual friends, you may just say "hi." If you are meeting an older person or the chief at your company, you may be more formal and say "hello." If you are in a job interview, you may be more formal and say "good day." It is difficult to know these nuances of foreign languages without formal study, but this list below represents informal to semi-formal greetings (hi or hello). Even if you don't get the formality or pronunciation exactly right, your effort will still be appreciated.

These are easy to learn and are great conversation starters.

1. German - Guten Tag (goo tin tog)
2. French - Bon jour (bone sure)
3. Spanish - Hola (o-la)
4. Mandarin Chinese - Ni Hao (nee how)
5. Hawaiian - Aloha (ah-low-ha)
6. Hebrew - Shalom (shah loam)
7. Arabic - Assalam alaikum (oss salahm ah lay kum)
8. Hindi - Namaste (nah mah stay)
9. Indonesian - Selamat (seh luh mott)
10. Vietnamese - Xin Chao (sin chow)
11. Turkish - Merhaba (mare ha ba)
12. Swahili - Jambo? (jahm bo)
13. Swedish - God dag (gode dag)
14. Samoan - Talofa (ta low fa)
15. Serbo-Croation - Dobar dan (doe bar dan)
16. Persian - Salaam (sa lahm)
17. Japanese - Konichi wa (koe nee chee wah)
18. Italian - Ciao (chow)
19. Korean - Ahnyeong haseyo (ah nya ha say yo)
20. Klingon - Nookneh? (nook neck?)
21. Latin - salve (sahl way)
22. Hungarian - Jo napot (yo na put)
23. Greek - yeia sou (yah soo)
24. Russian - Privet (pree vyet)
25. Tagalog - Kumusta (kuh mus stah)

language software

Image Flickr Ell Brown

These can come in handy in many situations. If you work as a restaurant server, being able to greet diners in their language gives you an instant connection and helps them see you as a person who is there to help them enjoy their dining experience, rather than just a faceless robot that brings their meal. That can help at tip time! I hope you can adopt a few of these greetings and use them to expand your world.