July 17, 2013

Does anyone in the Bible ever say "hello"?

It's all translation, if it's in English, and "hello" is a pretty recent English word. (The OED puts its earliest use in the year 1827.) I spent some time with the various translations at BibleGateway, and I found at least one that has "hello" — the Contemporary English Version, within which "hello" appears exactly twice:
Job 17:14 Then I could greet the grave as my father and say to the worms, “Hello, mother and sisters!”

Matthew 26:49 Judas walked right up to Jesus and said, “Hello, teacher.” Then Judas kissed him.
Great material! Job and Judas come across as a couple of darkly edgy comedians.

Why was I looking for "hello" in the Bible? I got caught up — after writing this post — in the meaning of "hail" in "Hail Mary." I was puzzling over whether or not there should be a comma between "hail" and "Mary," which I was reading to mean basically "Hello, Mary." But the Contemporary English Version of the Bible doesn't use "Hello, Mary" in the relevant verse (which is Luke 1:28). (It has: "The angel greeted Mary and said, 'You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.'")

A common alternative word for "hail" in that verse is "rejoice." I'm also seeing "Greetings!" which seems pretty close to Hello. I thought about other uses of "hail." Meade — who grew up in West Lafayette, home of Purdue — brought up "Hail Purdue." That made me, an alumna of the University of Michigan, think of "Hail! to the victors valiant." And then there's "Hail to the Chief" and "Hail to thee, blithe spirit!" (beginning Shelley's "To a Skylark").

What does "hail" mean beyond "hello"?

"Heil Hitler" is translated as "Hail Hitler." It's not "Hello Hitler," which seems edgily absurd. You could sing it to the tune of "Hello, Dolly," which has a comma, I might note, unlike Hello Kitty.