You still say hello! : A corpus study of the greeting words hi, hey and hello in spoken American English
This study examines the usage of the three greetings words hi, hey and hello incombination with greeting questions, such as how are you, and terms of address, such asBill, Mr Jones or Dad, in spoken American English. The investigation identifies someof the patterns and rules that govern greetings sequences and to what extent socialfactors like gender, age, social class and social context inform the speaker‘s choice ofgreeting. Theories within the area were then used to identify greetings in the LongmanSpoken American English Corpus that were then entered into a database along withinformation about the speakers. Using filters the greeting pairs where then sorted bydifferent factors, such as gender, to extract quantitative data on the distribution andfrequency of usage.The results showed variation influenced by social factors and formulaic patternsof greeting sequences. The study concludes that hi is the standard and most frequentgreeting in spoken American English, hey is a more vernacular form and hello seems tobe more frequently used when respecting the boundaries of the addressee. Greetingsequences also follow a predictable pattern based on the greeting word used or thegreeting questioned asked. More formal terms of address (for example Mr Lastname)are used in more formal settings or when there is a significant age difference betweenspeakers. If a greeting question (how are you?) is posed it is usually returned, answeredor both, and if answered often with a short reply providing minimal information (fine).Hence, both the choice of greeting word and the use of terms of address and greetingquestions are influenced by social factors like age, gender, social class and formality ofsetting according to observable patterns.
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