Friday, March 11, 2016

good morning

Being a parent has opened my eyes to differences I probably wouldn't have otherwise noticed. Not so much because of interactions with my English child, but because of the situations in which I see English parents. I have already noted the well done/good job divide, which was very apparent at preschool level. Nowadays, I have to interact with other parents while taking Grover to school (in BrE, I'm doing the school run).

In the 500 meters/metres between our house and the school, we face a constant stream of parents (known and slightly known) heading in the other direction. (Yes, we're always among the last to arrive. Neither G nor I are morning people.) And, minus conversation between Grover and me about who has the smallest hands in her class, here's approximately how the school run went:

Evie's dad*:  Good morning.
Me:  Hello!
Rosie's dad: Morning!
Me: HELLo!
Somebody's (BrE) mum: G'morning!
Me: helloooooo
Me: Hello!
Teacher at the gate: Morning!
*These people may have actual names. I may even know some of them. But your own name shrivels in relevance when you are a parent.

I said the only hellos and everyone else said a variation on good morning. I've two things to say about that:

  1. Hello originated in the US in the early 19th century, and though the British use it plenty (--as adverb, mostly AmE) these days, I wonder if in Britain it may retain a tinge (just a [AmE] smidgen! a tiny, tiny, tiny bit!) more of its etymological link with surprise. Oh, hello! Hallo, halloa, hullo were British, but came a bit later than hello in AmE--first OED cite is by Charles Dickens--a year before he started travel(l)ing in the US. Hello only really got going as a greeting after the invention of the telephone, and that spread its use to the UK and elsewhere. For more on its forms and etymology, see the Online Etymology Dictionary.

  2. I feel like, where I'm from (western NY state), one only really says good morning right after someone gets out of bed. It's something you say to people who are still in their pajamas/pyjamas, before they've had their coffee. When it's directed at me by members of my family (for it's only usually your family who sees you in your (AmE) pj's/(BrE) jim-jams), one hears a good dose of sarcasm, as in "Isn't it nice of you to join the waking world three hours after the rest of us got up?".  I might be able to imagine a telemarketer saying good morning to me on the phone, and I see people using it to start the day on social media, but I doubt I'd hear it much from colleagues or people I pass on the street.

    I tweeted about this this morning, and I've had some Americans agree that good morning is something you say only to people with noticeable (orig. AmE) bedhead (from Arizona, New Mexico, [?] Sussex), and others not (all in the midwest: Illinois, Iowa, Missouri). I was willing to bet there would be regional variation in this--but Midwest wasn't a region I was betting on. (I lived in central Illinois for five years, and I don't recall feeling affronted or surprised by many people's good mornings, but I was a (AmE) grad student, so maybe I only got up in the afternoons.)  Many aspects of manners are more 'British-like' in the US South, and in areas where there's a lot of Spanish, there might be (what linguists call) interference from buenos dias. But since the people agreeing with me come from very Spanish-influenced areas, perhaps not. The New Mexico tweeter summed up how I'd react:

I started this post when it was still morning, but now it's not, so I've moved on to thinking about good day. If I hear it in my head, it's in a sort of brusque RP accent. Good day, old chaps!  But when I look for it with punctuation on either side in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, I find it occurs at a 4-times-greater rate than in the British National Corpus. (The Corpus of Historical American English tells us it's been dying out since the 19th century. Perhaps hello is to blame--though good day is used for both 'hello' and 'goodbye'.) This is a lesson for those who insist that such-and-such a word is "used by Americans/Britons because I can hear the accent in my head". Your head is unreliable.  (This was the subject of an online debate I had recently--which I'll probably blog about soon.) Our preconceptions about our language can be a lot stronger than our factual knowledge about it.

I'll leave you with this, which is now stuck in my head, and which my mother used to sing in some perverse effort to make me less grumpy in the morning. You can imagine how well that worked on teenage me.


Heath said...

I hear "good day" in my head with a very specific accent:

Uvadoc06 said...

I'm in southwest Virginia (what I would call the border between "the South" and Appalachia) and I definitely use good morning (or a variation such as mornin') to greet family and coworkers the first time I see them that day. If it's after lunch, I'm much more likely to use hello over good afternoon.

n0aaa said...

I've lived everywhere (Navy brat) but most in Iowa/Massachusetts/California (currently New Hampshire). I use (good) morning all morning, then good afternoon or hello or hi (never hey...young folks, though...) in predictable fashion. I do, then, use good evening! Am I being too predictably American in this, or do I lack imagination?

mlf said...

I'm a teacher, so most of my interactions with people are as we all come into school in the morning at various times. "Good morning" is definitely the standard greeting then, but actually I say it and I hear people say it throughout the morning as a 'first greeting". For instance, I say "good morning" to the secretaries in the office as I walk in at 8:00, "good morning" to the teachers I see as I race to the office to pick up copies from the office at 9:00, to the librarian as my class goes in for my library time at 10:30, to the lunch aides when I walk my class into the cafeteria at 11:15, and to the playground aides as they take my class outside for recess at 11:45. I've even said and heard it said in the early afternoon, followed by "Oh, it's not morning any more, so good afternoon!" So it's more of the greeting any time you see someone for the first time that day, rather than just because it's early in the morning. I've noticed it in many other interactions when I'm shopping or meeting friends. I live and grew up in Michigan in Detroit; my parents were born and raised in Wales.

djw said...

I was born an raised in central Texas, probably around your mother's age, and I've used "Mornin'" or "Good morning" for greetings up till (and sometimes after, by mistake) noon for as long as I can remember. I'm a morning person, though, so I loved the Singin' in the Rain song, too. I think I reserve "hello" for the response to formal introductions or the telephone, and increasingly that's when I answer a landline since I can usually recognize callers on my cell (and then I'm more likely to say "hi, [whoever]" or "good morning!").

Doug Sundseth said...

I (mostly Rocky Mountain US, but AF brat, so a mixed background) use "Good morning" nearly any time before noon. Once I no longer feel morning-ish, I transition to "Howdy" (pronounced something like "haadi" ... a very flat drawl) or occasionally "Howzit" (Hawaiian pidgin; lived and worked there for more than a year).

This might be affected by my getting to work at 0615, so it really is very morning for me at the beginning of my work day.

(I'll note that I just got an unsolicited "Good Morning" from the security person walking past my desk.)

Anne said...

mlf said... ”I've even said and heard it said in the early afternoon, followed by "Oh, it's not morning any more, so good afternoon!" So it's more of the greeting any time you see someone for the first time that day, rather than just because it's early in the morning.”

I do this a lot - but it's only because I've forgotten the time of day.

I'm British but currently traveling Bahamas/East coast USA and have noticed that in the main it's only the British who use the good morning/afternoon greetings. It does seem to emphasise our Britishness.

Kelvin Green said...

In my -- British -- experience, "Good morning" is good for use as a greeting right up to about 12:30 or so; up to 11:59 as a general greeting, and then from 12:00 onwards so you can be all flustered when you get it wrong and then burble out a "... good afternoon, rather!" to follow up.

"Good day" I always imagine as an indignant farewell, as the offended party sweeps out of the room: "And to you sir, good day!"

lynneguist said...

I'd much rather have actual counts from people in the US than feelings or "memory" because really, we're not that good at thinking about what we say and hear. Really not good. It's telling, though, if you've never had a feeling that 'good morning' was the 'wrong' thing to say (because that's the kind of thing that memory is better at).

So, as an experiment, I'd love to get some counts. Please count only greetings that are not yours, and not responses to yours (because that'll affect the outcome. Let us know where your count was done and the contexts of the greetings.

(I'll try to do this myself when I'm travel(l)ing next.)

Dan said...

I basically agree with mlf; "good morning" means "hello, person who I am seeing for the first time today" and does not necessarily imply that either of you just got up. And "good night" means "good bye, person who I do not expect to see/talk to again tonight" (which may be because one of you is going to bed, but maybe not). (And obviously they can only be used in the morning/night respectively.)

(grew up and spent most of my life in New England)

Jane Elizabeth said...

While reading this at my office desk in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I paid attention to how my colleagues greeted me and others as they entered to start the work day. Every one of them said 'good morning' and most receive the same as a reply although some did reply 'hi'. I also say good morning to strangers as I pass them on the street when heading into work and I do think they say the same. It seems very natural to me.

JennR said...

I tend to agree with many of the prior comments; "morning" (good or not, and afternoon when it's after noon) is a greeting (often in passing) for people I haven't seen yet today, while "hello" or "hi" is a greeting that's usually followed by more interaction (or by family coming home from work/school). "hey" as a greeting is used with friends, and is often more of an acknowledgement 'yes, I see that you are here, but I need to finish this thing before I give you more attention'.

(Born and raised in Michigan (central and UP) to first generation immigrants.)

Tomslists said...

How does that compare with 'good night'? I think in BrE it implies you are going to sleep, either right now or its the next thing to do.

Macha said...

I read this over breakfast, and was therefore very conscious of greetings that I heard/received this morning. Unfortunately, I didn't keep count, so the best I can say is:
Hello- 1
Good morning- lots (more than five)

This accounts for the first hour of the workday (8:30-9:30.) I don't expect to hear many more "good mornings."

I'm in Chicago, but my coworkers and I are from many regions of the US.

Two mostly irrelevant diversions-

My mother also used to assault me with the Singin' in the Rain "Good morning!" song. I wish that it had occurred to me to find a song to sing in her face when she started to fade at 8:30 every evening.

I travel regularly in Latin American countries, and speak Spanish well enough that I should not have any trouble with standard greetings. But, I find the need to choose among buenos dias, buenas tardes, and buenas noches to be a real source of stress. Having to think in a second language AND remember the time is just too much for me. It really does matter- I've seen the surprise on a taxi driver's face when I say "Buenos dias" at 3pm!

DL said...

Yet another Texan here who uses good morning as a greeting up until roughly lunchtime. It can definitely have the sarcasm mentioned here, though. (As someone who prefers not to deal with anyone other than my partner until nine or ten, I hear it a lot.)

Another British/American difference that I've noticed is that I will occasionally hear BrE speakers use "good afternoon" or "good evening" as a farewell. It strikes me as off because I think of those exclusively as a greeting, and the counterpart at the end of an interaction would require an imperative like "have a good evening."

Eloise said...

As a BrE speaker, I'd say some variation on good morning (like just mornin') or good afternoon or good evening to most people. Someone I know fairly well might get an "Alright" instead. To which the proper answer, of course, as with "How d'you do?" being answered by itself is "Alright." That used to be a Scouse only thing but I think it's spread to be more nationwide.

Good night would be only to someone going to bed, or if I'm the one going to bed.

Good day could be a good-bye or an ultra-formal hello or a sarcastic comment. It's all in the tone and the context. I'd be very surprised to be greeted that way, it feels like something out of P.G.Wodehouse and I would be somewhat surprised to hear it said instead of goodbye, but in a very formal setting not shocked. it's the sort of thing I imagine (although I have no experience of) a Saville Row tailor might say as a gentleman leaves the premises.

Dan Jones said...

I (American, raised in PNW, and Central Texas), almost never say "hello". I almost always say "good ...", but never "Good Day".

I say "Good morning" until noon, and then "Good afternoon" until about an hour before twilight. After twilight, it's "good evening". During that missing hour, and after about 10pm, I usually say "Hey", unless it's someone of higher social standing, then I might say "Hello".

Also, I frequently drop the implied "good" and just say "mornin'", "afternoon", or "evenin'".

When greeting random people passing in the street, I might replace "good ..." with "howdy".

Also, when I think of "Good day", I actually hear it in my head as an Australian "G'day".

Nancy Friedman said...

I (AmE, California native and resident) say "Good morning" at the official start of a day: in an office, at swim workout, in class, etc. Otherwise it's "hello" or -- recently, following the trend -- "hey."

I would say "Good afternoon" only in a heavily sarcastic tone of voice. Nobody actually acknowledges afternoon, do they?

"Good evening" -- or "Good eeeeeevening" -- just makes me think of Alfred Hitchcock's introduction to his old TV show.

"Good night" when going to bed. Although in some AmE dialects (not mine) "Good NIGHT!" is a minced oath.

To Macha's comment about Latin American countries, I haven't traveled much lately, but I've noticed that in Mexico (and elsewhere, maybe?) "bueno[a]s dias/tardes/noches" is increasingly clipped to just "buenos/buenas."

Helen Angove said...

Brit living in SoCal here - "Good Morning" is definitely used a lot on the school run, though perhaps parents use it to greet the crossing guard more than to each other? (Also there's a very large Hispanic population in the school.) Will do some counting when spring break is over.

Sam C said...

AmE (Mid-Atlantic) who thinks "Good morning" is normal, particularly within the 1st hour of arriving at work. I mostly work with middle-aged folks and "good morning!" is the welcome I hear from them when I walk into work (4:1 ratio of "good morning" to "hello").

After that it's "hi" and "hey" for the most part... but I hear "good morning - I mean, good afternoon" almost everyday from the woman who works the phones when she gets her 1st call after 12 pm. I feel like she tends toward good morning/good afternoon because her job description is to be extra friendly, and it sounds more personable than hello.

Sam C said...

Oh and also seconding the commenter who often drops the "good" - the 4:1 ratio of good morning:hello also includes people who just add "morning!" to the "welcome to work" chorus. I rarely hear or say "good afternoon" as a greeting, but "afternoon" isn't unexpected.

David Crosbie said...

My first thought was of the Judy Garland song whose lyrics ;largely consist of Good Morning. Then I though of Good morning blues, Blues how do you do? and went to the Michael Taft concordance. I found

Eight Good morning (Mr) Blues

Three Good morning judge

One example of the traditional exchange

Good morning captain.
Good morning Shine

One each of

Good morning conductor
Good morning people
Good morning Seven Sisters
Good morning Mr Pawnshop Man
Good morning Mr Devil

and these inanimate addressees — along with inanimate (Mr) Blues

Good morning Mr wild water
Good morning skin game

In these Blues examples, the prevalence of Mr is perhaps significant. In almost all instances the singer is addressing a figure of respect (or power). Also they're all the prelude to a conversation.

One of the earliest really communicative teaching items that I remember using was a floppy EP starting with a boy on a bike riding round ringing his bell and and saying Hello to friends and Good morning to teachers and other adults. The adults all replied Good morning Bill.

The respect feature is an interesting parallel between (real) Black American singers of the 1920's and 1930's on the one hand and (fictional) White British speakers of the 1960's.

OK respect isn't quite the defining characteristic of Good morning Bill (or Good morning Shine) but it does convey formality.

Similarly, I think my Good mornings can be

• a conversational initiation
• a mark of formality and/or respect
• the first greeting of the day to somebody more intimate — to my wife on waking up, for example

It's also what my wife and I say to each other or to our cat when waking from a daytime nap.

The Judy Garland song is sort of 'I'm awake, so why aren't you?' — very much the same as Goo-oo-ood morning Vietnam!

Tomslists said...

A related comment, when I say good morning occasionally some one replies "no it's not, it's raining." Leaving aside whether rain is inherently bad, "good morning" is a wish, not a fact. And not a wish about the weather. I was struck by the AmE phrase "tell me good morning". In BrE you can only tell a fact, so you can't 'tell' good morning. It is a blessing, not a weather report. Its like saying 'bless you' when some one sneezes, it make both hearer and speaker feel better. Of course it is a reticent, restricted blessing, with no theological content, so that's typically English.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

Thinking about it, I'd say "Good Morning" to the driver of my bus (or "Good afternoon" or "Good evening", as appropriate); on the other hand when I arrive at my daughter's, I'm apt to say "Hallo", and when my husband came in as I was writing this comment, I said "Hallo" to him.

So my tentative conclusion is that "Good Morning" is either very early in the morning OR for people with whom you have a degree of formality (colleagues, other parents on the school run, etc).

David Crosbie said...

Several of those songs are YoueTuebed. Some interesting examples too click on:

Good Mornin' (Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney)

Good morning Vietnam

Good morning Mr wild water
Now good morning Mr wild water : why did you stop in my front door
Says you reaches from Cairo : clean down to the Gulf of Mexico

Good morning skin game
Good morning skin game : hollering skin game please last
I done staked my man to win : and I hope my money will pass

Good morning judge
Good morning judge : what may be my fine
Fifty dollars : and eleven twenty-nine

Good morning seven sisters
Good morning seven sisters : just thought I'd come down and see
Will you build me up where I'm torn down : and make me strong where I'm weak

Good morning captain (Tom Dickson)
Said good morning captain : said good morning shine
'Tain't nothing the matter : captain but I just ain't going

I don't mind working : captain from sun to sun
But I want my money : captain when payday come

Good morning captain (Jimmie Rogers)

Good morning captain (Bill Monroe)

David Crosbie said...

I didn't include a Good Morning Blues. Here's one of the best (It's the last verse)

Jail Hous Blues (Bessie Smith)
Good morning blues : blues how do you do
Say I just come here : to have a few words with you

Lim said...

Another Yank' (Vermont, born and raised) who says, "good morning" to everyone right up until I realize it's afternoon. I can't think of anybody in my office who doesn't say it; although I am one of the few who uses "good afternoon" and "good evening" frequently.
I think I can trace it to years of work in customer service. I'd be curious to know if others who greet people like this also spent time in the service industry.

lynneguist said...

Possibly a complicating factor: are we greeting people in passing, or as the beginning of something bigger? In my case, it was in passing--where I would naturally say 'hi' or 'hey', but tended to say 'hello' because I was reacting to a more formal greeting.

'Good morning' at the start of a larger interaction (like a meeting, or collaborative work) feels like it would be different for me, signalling "Here we are starting our morning together", rather than just the in-passing "hi". Similarly, as I mentioned, it seems more natural on social media, where it is more of an announcement of 'here I am' rather than 'there you are'.

So far, midwest and New England seem to be reporting strongest 'good mornings', though we do have to wonder about numbers.

FWIW, the numbers for 'good morning' and 'hello' are much the same in BrE & AmE in the GloWBE corpus (though I didn't do much about controlling for whether the 'good morning' was part of a larger phrase, etc.). But I do think there are some differences in usage, which one can't really get from a quick corpus search--and a corpus search is going to completely hide regionality (at least with the corpora I have access to).

There are some potentially fab student projects in all this.

lynneguist said...

...and then of course, age is a factor too. I'm looking at something from 1972 that notes that in Britain, the older generation says 'how do you do?' and the younger says 'hello'.

I've heard various people lament the loss of 'how do you do?' (or tell funny stories of people misunderstanding the greeting). It always reminds me of another song, that was trying to teach US kids to say 'how do you do?'. (Well, really it was trying to get kids to show some self-confidence and generosity in interacting with new people, but 'how do you do?' is the medium...)

David Crosbie said...
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David Crosbie said...

I'm quite sure that even in 1972 (in Britain or among British speakers) I never said How do you do to anybody I'd met before. Possibly it was how older speakers used it. But if so, I was't aware for the fact. (I was already in my late twenties in 1972.)

I always felt there was something wrong about What A Wonderful World's

I see friends shaking hands saying 'How do you do"
They're really saying 'I love you'

In Britain, it seems to me, only strangers on introduction shake hands and say 'How do you do'.

OK there are some exceptions. In Scotland we shake hands with friends when meeting for the first time in the new year. And more widely people shake hands with friends on special occasions, or to congratulate them. But I can't think of many uses of How do you do as a friendly greeting.

David Crosbie said...

But I can't think of many uses of How do you do as a friendly greeting.

I'd better rephrase that. I can't think of it as a greeting to a friend. But Ii can be a perfectly amicable greeting to a stranger.

David Crosbie said...
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David Crosbie said...
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David Crosbie said...
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David Crosbie said...

This, I think, is my repertoire:


........ ......................BG....... OC.... ATD.......FM
How do you do.........x ..........x.........x.........✓
Good morning..........✓..........✓........✓.........x

When two are possible, Hello is always the less formal.

John Cowan said...

I use Good morning only for people I am seeing for the first time that day, no matter how late in the morning it is. Good day is strictly for 'Get lost and get stuffed'.

Little Black Sambo said...

"I've even said and heard it said in the early afternoon."
Several commenters have alluded to the fact that morning and afternoon are not mutually exclusive. Morning can extend well into the afternoon, depending upon what is going on. Dickens complained about the burden of morning public readings; theatres have matinée performances; the greeting on the hunting field is always "Good morning": these are all afternoon occasions. Perhaps the morning is understood to reach till lunch/early dinner time. When the main meal was in mid-afternoon was the period before the meal all considered to be morning?

David Crosbie said...

Having slept on it, I think I can extend my scheme.

Good morning is the more formal alternative in self-contained greetings and in greetings that open a conversation. But in the 'wake up' use and in any greeting alluding to the time of day Good morning is the default and suitable for use with close friends and family.

I think the non-formal default uses can be subsumed under a sense of new day renewal. As I said before, I may say Good morning to my wife if she wakes up after me. I might also say it (not altogether seriously) to our cat. More generally, I think, I would normally say Good morning to any guest who has spent the night in our flat. And the same if staying in someone else's home. It marks the re-booting of the daily routine. The same could apply to a place of work. And it's certainly the norm (in my experience) in places of education.

This chimes with John Cowan's observation that he (and I) only use Good morning only once to a given individual in the appropriate time period. A bit similar to How do you do and shaking hands — except that the time period in question is very different.

I believe this is why Lynne's British fellow parents — to necessarily friends, but far from being strangers — have Good morning as the default in that situation. It means 'Here we are again on the daily round'.

Conversely, Hello for me is the default greeting to someone who's unexpected. I'd day 'Hello, do i know you?'. I wouldn't say Good morning, do I know you?.

If I'm right, Good morning marks a renewal of the ritual of the day. So Good afternoon and Good evening are less likely to be used in this way. personally, I wouldn't say Good afternoon to a guest in the flat who for some reason I hadn't seen in the morning.

Incidentally. Good afternoon seems to be a particularly English expression. No language that I've encountered seems to have anything for the time between Good morningGood evening.

David Crosbie said...


I believe this is why Lynne's British fellow parents — not necessarily friends, but far from being strangers — have Good morning as the default in that situation. It means 'Here we are again on the daily round'.

Johnny E said...

"When it's directed at me by members of my family (for it's only usually your family who sees you in your (AmE) pj's/(BrE) jim-jams), one hears a good dose of sarcasm, as in "Isn't it nice of you to join the waking world three hours after the rest of us got up?"

If you want to say that in BrE, try "good afternoon" (assuming it's actually morning; if it really is afternoon, then you say "good morning." The deliberate "mistake" is what's important, the point being "Apparently, my afternoon is your morning.")

The sarcasm may be less obvious in the latter, as "good morning" is acceptable as a straightforward greeting for someone waking up pretty much any time before dinner...

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

David Crosbie wrote: "OK there are some exceptions. In Scotland we shake hands with friends when meeting for the first time in the new year."

I remember, nearly fifty years ago, being really surprised to find French schoolchildren, of about my age, shaking hands with one another when meeting for the first time that day. The custom appears to have died out, though - these days they might well "se faire la bise" (kiss each other on both cheeks), but you don't see the handshaking that you used.

phanmo said...

Canadian, from Toronto, here. I would definitely say "Good morning" (or, more likely, "Morning") and "Afternoon" rather than "Hello". I'm pretty sure that I'd only say "Hello" if I had just been introduced to someone. As far as I can recall, I've never said "Good day" except when preceded by "Have a...".
I've never heard an actual native English-speaker say "How do you do?", although I hear it regularly here in France, where it's still taught as the correct way to greet someone.

Dru said...

English English speaker in my 60s.

Lynne, it's really surprising to read your OP. In BrEnglish, there is no link between 'Good Morning' and a first greeting on getting up. One uses 'Good Morning' on first greeting someone up until midday or lunchtime. It's a bit vague when the change happens. One then uses 'Good Afternoon' until 5/6 pm, 'going home time'. One uses 'Good Evening' from then on. All three are for greeting, not saying goodbye. 'Good Night' though is never a greeting and is only for saying goodbye. 'Good Day' is a bit old fashioned, and is really for saying goodbye. Used any other way sounds Strine (Australian for North American readers).

'Hello' is only used for greeting, never for goodbye. It's a lot better than 'Hi'. From the mouth of someone my age, 'hi' sounds as though the speaker is trying a bit too hard to be cool and not succeeding.

Dick Hartzell said...

Lynne: As an American, what puzzles me about your insistence on responding with Hello! when you're greeted with Good morning! while taking your daughter to school is that in circumstances like these I usually take the path of least resistance -- meaning I tend to respond with whatever greeting I hear.* It seems peculiar to me (and it felt peculiar when I read your dialogue transcription) to hear you deliberately countering Good morning! with Hello!

*There are limits, of course. Were I to hear How's it goin'? or 'sup? I'd feel idiotic replying in kind. But as long as the greeting is generic and it comes from someone I have no intention of stopping and talking to, it seems to me -- though you're absolutely right about our willingness to fool ourselves about how we think we speak -- I'm simply going to repeat the greeting I hear.

lynneguist said...

I didn't say 'good morning' because I don't say 'good morning' to people in that kind of situation. I said 'hello' because that's what I say to people when the situation isn't familiar enough to say 'hey'. I'd feel a bit idiotic saying 'morning' to people when it's just not something I say. I'd feel like I was mimicking, rather than interacting.

Theophylact said...

If I know the person, I'm likely to say "Hi". If it's (say) a bus driver or supermarket checker, it's more likely to be "good morning". (Native New Yorker, DC resident for 35 years.)

ellarien said...

I somehow managed to miss this subtlety for the thirteen years I spent in the US!

I well remember the chorus of "Good morning Miss X" with which we ritually greeted each new teacher in the before-lunch part of the school day at my (British) secondary school -- and our lunch was at 1pm. And the bus ticket machines around here say ``Good morning'' on the display until around noon, then switch to ``Good day'' over lunchtime and later to "Good Afternoon." I'm never quite sure whether that's supposed to be a greeting or a prompt, but I tend to echo it to the bus driver when I buy my ticket, except the good day one: "Good morning, city bus day please." (To which the standard response is "Four pounds luv.")

David Crosbie said...

I think I've worked it out ...

Expressions of the format Good TIME OF DAY fall into two categories — three if we include Australian G'day. It depends on how the day is divided — or not divided in the case of Australian speakers.

1. The day is divided according to the position of the sun or the hands of the clock into morning, afternoon, evening —ignoring subdivision such as,twilight etc.

2. The day is divided into one unit of waking hours and another of sleeping hours.

For me, and I believe for other BrE speakers the categories of our expressions are:

1. SUN/CLOCK ....................Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening.
2. WAKING/SLEEPING.........Good night

For Lynne and her wider speech group, one of these has changed category

1. SUN/CLOCK ....................Good afternoon. Good evening.
2. WAKING/SLEEPING......... Good morning. Good night.

We shouldn't be so surprised at Lynne's aversion to Good morning as a regular greeting. We are just as averse to Good night as a regular greeting or valediction. Whatever the hour, we wouldn't say it to somebody who was going to stay up. And, of course, we never use it as a greeting.

I get the impression that many Americans don't share Lynne's strict categorisation

M said...

Canadian from British Columbia here. I hear "Good morning," "Morning," etc. frequently and also use them myself. There are several interesting points in the comments though. Most of the people I've "Good morning'ed" are/were strangers and people at work, not close friends. And I'd say "Hello" when being introduced to someone.

David Crosbie said...

Whatever the hour, we wouldn't say it to somebody who was going to stay up.

On second thoughts, I suppose I might use Good night to someone staying up — provided that I myself was headed for bed.

This doesn't invalidate my feeling the Good night is in a different category, one based on the fact that at least one of us is transitioning from WAKING to SLEEPING.

smr said...

Like mlf, I am a teacher and her comment is almost exactly what I was thinking while reading this post. I stand outside my classroom between classes and as students enter I greet each of them with "Morning" (I usually skip the "good") and they typically respond in time. Sometimes they say it first. The reason I know they say it first is because for the first class that begins after noon it's common for a student to pass me and say "Good morning" and then correct themselves that it's actually afternoon (or I'll point that out to them).

So I know I use "[Good] morning" routinely as a greeting for my students. What I'm less sure about is how I greet my coworkers when we're just passing each other in the hall, which is at least somewhat more in line with the interaction you're talking about. I *think* I say "Morning" at least some of the time, but I'm not sure, and I know that interaction often takes the form of "Hi, how's it going?" or "Hi, how are you?" (but in the really quick way that doesn't necessarily expect an answer to the question). I will have try to remember to keep a tally tomorrow morning.

(For age, region data: I live and work in Massachusetts, which is also where I grew up, and I'm 35 years old.)

smr said...

Correction: that previous comment should say "they respond in kind" not "they respond in time".

David Crosbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Crosbie said...


I wonder if in Britain it may retain a tinge (just a [AmE] smidgen! a tiny, tiny, tiny bit!) more of its etymological link with surprise.

For me there are two distinct — well, almost aways distinct — uses.

1. Hello is basically what I've called a bare greeting. For BrE speakers — and seemingly for most of the AmE speakers who've posted here — it's a stylistic variant to Good morning, Good afternoon, Good evening. The variation between speakers in use can be explained by different perceptions as to what constitutes a formal or informal situation.

It's by far the most frequently used of informal bare greetings, which is perhaps surprising for a comparatively recent coining. I can't believe that any British speaker alive today thinks of Hello as an innovation or an Americanism. Indeed, I doubt whether any Brit alive today can remember a grandparent or great-grandparent who expressed such a thought.

My guess is that Hello quickly displaced other informal greetings as a default because they were seen as too localised, or even too common (in the 'vulgar' sense). Some people say Wotcha but many don't. I grew up in Nottingham surrounded by people who greeted each other with Ey up but my mother saw to it that I was never one of them. Even Hi is not universally used by speakers of all ages — see Dru's post above.

I'm sure you're right that the telephone introduced Hello to the whole population. But it could have stayed as a specialised telephoning term. That it didn't is, I suggest, is because there was an empty niche ready for a universal informal greeting.

2. Hello is also an exclamation of surprise addressed principally to oneself, not to a person one encounters. In my speech, surprised Hello is a response to a thing or a situation — Hello. What's this?.

Stereotypically, when a policeman arrives on the scene he ays Hello. Hello. Hello.
In a typical anecdote, this would be followed by What have we here?. But there's a playground riddle which seems to establish an example of surprised Hello as a greeting:

QUESTION What did the three-headed policemen say to the burglar?
ANSWER Hello. Hello. Hello.

I would answer that even here — and in more plausible contexts — Hello is't a bare greeting but an opening to a conversation. So if I caught somebody in a private space, such as a restaurant table that I'd ordered, I might say

Hello. What are you doing here?

But this wouldn't really be a greeting. And I wouldn't just say Hello without a comment.

I have a third, much less frequent use of Hello.

3. With (usually) a high-rising intonation and lengthening of the second syllable, I sometimes use Hello as an exclamation of recognition. For example

Hell ↗o-o-o. I think we've been here before.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

David, I think you are confusing "Hello", which is definitely a term introduced for use when answering the telephone (although Graham Bell, as I understand it, favoured "Ahoy!"), with the long-established "Hallo!" and "Hullo", which are not typically used as greetings. "Hallo" was used as an expression of mild surprise and of attracting attention (as, originally, was "Hi"). "Hallo, there's Joe over there. Hi, Joe, what are you doing there?" And if Joe happened to be a policeman, he might well have said "Ullo, Ullo, Ullo, what's going on here?"

mlf said...

To me, good morning seems less formal than hello. I use hello mostly on the phone and maybe when I'm being introduced to someone. Otherwise, when I don't use good morning, I use hi with people I'm familiar with. I use it when I walk into someone's room, for instance, to open a conversation as in "Hi, are you busy now? I have a question". This seems to be common among my circle of acquaintance. I will try to keep a count in school next week.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

P.S. I keep meaning to say, and keep forgetting, that here in the UK we greet one another far less than is conceivable in France, where it is incredibly rude not to say "Bonjour!" to the assembled company waiting for service in the bakery, or to the person staffing the supermarket checkout. I always greet the latter in this country, but not many people do - some people even carry on speaking on the telephone without excusing themselves. And few people seem to greet bus drivers or similar, either. I don't know if it's because I've spent so much time in France, or what, but it always strikes me as rude. That greeting, incidentally, is invariably "Good morning/afternoon/evening", as appropriate.

lynneguist said...

Mrs Redboots: 'hallo' and 'hullo' are still younger than 'hello' in the same sense, so not *that* long-established!

As I noted in the post, I can imagine 'good morning' in some other contexts (though I didn't mention many), and some of the things others are talking about here, e.g. in the classroom, would be places I would expect to hear 'good morning'. There it has a meaning something like 'Let's start our day together'. In a speech or a meeting 'Let's start these proceedings'. It's more formal than the passing-each-other-on-the-way-somewhere context that I'm talking about. For a teacher to start the day with 'hello' would sound much more social than they would intend to sound. That said, I *do* start lectures with 'HELlo''s a bit unnatural and therefore stands out a bit, but I want to give students a signal that we are actually starting a conversation. My lectures expect audience participation.

So, for me: 'good morning' is formal when it means 'hello' and therefore appropriate to the opening of proceedings (like meetings or the school day), but not formal when it is used for just-out-of-bed greetings. So, in a casual situation, I don't say it because it would sound (to me) stiff or sarcastic.

'Good night' is a bit the same for me, but not as formal as 'good morning'. As people have noted, it's really only used for leave-taking--'good evening' does work as greeting. I'd say 'good night' to anyone who is on their way to bed. But it's more restricted in contexts where a bed is not nearby. Like 'good morning' it can be used in a more formal situation to end proceedings. On the tv news, the anchor/newsreader might say 'good night' even though it's unlikely to be the audience's bedtime yet. It says, 'and thus we close tonight's proceedings'. Stand-up comedians say it at the ends of their sets for similar reasons. I sometimes say 'good night' to people who I'm out and about with, when we leave for our respective homes, but that would have to be after 11 or so. It would be weird to say it at 8 or 9, I think. (Of course, someone needs to observe me and see if I'm right about what I say I do.)

Doug Sundseth said...

I've been listening to others coming in to work this morning, which seems more likely to provide an unbiased sample than trying to record my own interactions. So far, "good morning" and "hi" seem to be in free variation, including responding to one with the other.

I'll note that I work in a cubicle farm, so I hear many people around me.

(Location: Broomfield, CO, USA)

Anonymous said...

For me (southern English) "Morning" is a very common greeting. I don't think it makes a difference whether you use it to greet family, friends or colleagues. Can be used at any time before midday, but you'd only use it the first time you met someone that day. "Good morning" is more formal; you might use that when answering the phone at work.

For me, "Good night" or just "Night" would be if it's the end of the day and you know you're not going to see that person again that day. So for your colleagues it's when you leave work, for friends it's when you leave the pub, for family it's bed time, etc.

Laura Cameron said...

The most aggressive use of "Good afternoon!" on record:

'“Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me before that happened. Why give it as a reason for not coming now?”

“Good afternoon,” said Scrooge.

“I want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why cannot we be friends?”

“Good afternoon,” said Scrooge.

“I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. We have never had any quarrel, to which I have been a party. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas, and I’ll keep my Christmas humour to the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle!”

“Good afternoon!” said Scrooge.

“And A Happy New Year!”

“Good afternoon!” said Scrooge.'
[from the Project Gutenberg edition]

I'm currently in the PacNW, grew up in NYC, and lived for 16 yrs in the UK in the middle. Throughout the dark winter months, a frequent interchange I hear at work before, say, 10:00am, is:

"Morning, [name]."
"Is it? How can you tell?" (before the coffee has brewed)and "Hey!" (after coffee)

Christian Johnson said...

47, AmE, PNW/midwest/mid-Atlantic, with heavy dose of Manhattan just to confuse things more.

I find this whole discussion very confusing.

To me, "g'morning" -- the "good" mostly swallowed -- is entirely interchangeable with "hey" as a first greeting in the day, so long as it's with people I'm reasonably familiar with (nodding acquaintance on up) and we see one another before noon. I use it on the phone as well.

If I'm out walking in a fairly desolate area, I'll use "morning" alone with strangers I see walking towards me.

I'm more likely to use a bare "hi" if I'm really on a mission for information; frankly, it's more likely to come out of my mouth if I'm stressed and forgetting my manners.

I don't think "hello" is ever natural for me as a morning greeting. It sounds... weirdly formal, like I'm speaking to a non-native speaker. Fine for catching attention at any time of day, but not something that would greet another person.

A more enthusiastic, pronounced "good morning" is reserved for people I see when I or they first get out of bed -- my partner, or family we're visiting, or even my parents on our weekly FaceTime call (Sunday evening in Hong Kong, morning in Washington DC).

Boris Zakharin said...

New Jersey here. I say "(good) morning" to coworkers when coming in to work (or when they are) and so do they if I didn't say it first. I imagine if somebody said "hello" instead I would reply in kind, but I don't recall this ever happening. Everybody also says "good morning" at the start of our daily 10:15 conference call to announce their presence. When a coworker says "good morning" to me upon first seeing me substantially after either of us came in, I get momentarily confused.

My interaction with my family is less relevant due to a combination of English not being their first language and pet greetings we've developed for each other. My brother and I say "yo" to each other as an all-purpose greeting. I say "hello" to my mom to announce my presence to her or to reply to her greeting (which is usually in Russian). I use a semi-formal Russian greeting to greet my grandfather, as I've done all my life.

I don't usually meet people I know in other settings, especially not in the morning, but when I do, we usually tend to say "hi", "hello", "how are you?" or the like.

Kate Bunting said...

My experience of the UK seems to be different from Mrs Redboots's. On my local bus route (in Derby) everybody exchanges a greeting with the driver even if they're only swiping a card. The supermarket checkout people say "Hello, do you need any help with packing?" or words to that effect.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

That, of course, is where London is different from much of the rest of the country - far less friendly. And if the supermarkets ever offered to pack your bags, which they almost never did anyway, they don't since the charge came in.

smr said...

I've been paying attention for the last two days to the way people have been greeting me at work, whether students or coworkers, making a point to just listen to what they say rather than initiate a greeting myself and it's about 75% "(Good) Morning" that I hear (usually without the "good"). The remaining 25% is pretty even split between "Hello", "Hey", "Hi", and "How're you doing?".

Anonymous in New Jersey said...

Huh! In my experience living and working in New Jersey (North and South and always coastal, but never central or western), "good morning" is and has long been the greeting of choice amongst colleagues, acquaintances and strangers passing each other. "Hello" was (and mostly is) reserved for the telephone and for when people plan to stop and talk for a bit. In fact, I'm pretty sure that my Pre-K teacher gently corrected any of us* who were so uncouth as to say, "Hello, Miss B—" rather than "Good morning, Miss B—".** My grandmother definitely taught her students that the former was preferred over the latter. I wonder if that is a New Jersey thing or simply an I-was-raised-that-way-and-have-often-been-surrounded-by-others-who-were-raised-that-way thing.***

Our difference experiences are also marked in that I've never felt that the phrase "good morning" held any particular connotation in and of itself, though I've certainly been dealt the (only slightly arch, in my experience) "good morning" when I've been late to rise.


*Somewhere around early adolescence, most of my age-group began greeting each other in grunts and "heys" and nods, but eventually grew up and returned to the "good mornings" of early school days.
**I'm pretty sure her name was actually Mrs. W&emdash;, but I might be confusing her with my Kindergarten teacher.
***I don't actually like "good morning" as a greeting, as I don't want to hear after the oatmeal was scorched, I've forgotten my umbrella, and I've just realised that import file is sitting on my desk at home instead of my desk in the office. I tend to mumble a barely audible "morning" in those cases. I wish "hello" wouldn't mark me as rude; unfortunately, even many decades after Pre-K, I'm told it does.

bass said...

I'm quite surprised, because I (university student who's lived in Ohio her whole life) am wholly with the BrE on this one! "Good morning" is my greeting of choice before noon, and I would find saying "Hello" to someone you're just passing to be quite odd (although I've been taking Chinese as my first class of the day for the past two years, so perhaps the daily 早上好's have been messing with me?). I'd probably be more likely to greet someone with "Hey" or "Hi," but it's college, so I chalk that up to the informal setting. Saying "hello" to someone in passing seems somehow rather stilted and formal, but I'm not quite sure what that means.

Saltwater said...

Keeping count on this morning's dog walk it was 100% for "Good Morning", from people I know well through to strangers. When I met up with people for a second time when walking round we all said "Good morning again!", I think 7 am is just too early to use anything else and I only switch to "Good Afternoon at some point after lunch (when depends on how well I'm keeping track of time). "Hello" seems somewhat formal to me and is something I use for business greetings but not in my personal life and "How do you do" is for formal first meetings only. Growing up in East Anglia if we didn't reference the time of day the other greeting was "Alright boi", or just "Alright", still used with family but I don't hear it from anyone else since I've moved to other areas in the UK. "Good day" in an English accent brings to mind old British black and white films and sounds very old fashioned to me.

flatlander said...

Yesterday I decided to keep track, and as per Lynne's comment I was careful to not greet first and thus influence the other party's response. That led to the awkward realization that I am apparently the designated First Greeter in many of my everyday interactions, because when I remained silent so did the others. While I worked through that existential crisis, I did note a handful of "(Good) morning"s and one "Oh hi" as a colleague rounded the corner and nearly crashed into me. The only true "Hello" came from a schoolchild hanging out a bus window. That was less a greeting and more a "Look at me! I'm hanging out a bus window!" - AmE, mid-Atlantic region, smallish college town

lynneguist said...

Oh, gee, flatlander. That's making me feel like I should have got(ten) ethical clearance for this experiment. It might be doing damage! :/

wisob said...

BrE here. "Good morning" is more formal than "Morning" is more formal than "Hello".
It interesting that some people think Hello is more formal than (Good) Morning.

Rachel Ganz said...

Not at all relevant to Lynne's query, but may I present J R R Tolkien?

"Good morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.
"What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"
"All of them at once," said Bilbo.

Zhoen said...

I've been listening at work this past week. Mind, this is an OR that starts cases at 0800, and we clock in an hour before, which may be relevant. (US, Utah.)

We all say Good Morning to each other. Or 'mornin'. First greeting of the day, and we all use Morning. May be that we are all tired and implying we are all tired and need coffee, but it doesn't seem so. People who come in later in the day may get a Hi, or hello, but I wasn't checking for that. Maybe because of that I use Good Morning on other days, and it seems normal.

lynneguist said...

This does not surprise me about Utah at all. But in many ways Utah is its own usage arena!

smr said...

I've continued to keep track of this at work and it continues to be the case that about 75% of the people who greet me use some form of "Good Morning" (the second most common greeting is 'Hi"). I did notice today that one coworker passed me early in the day and said "Morning". Then about an hour later we passed each other again and I said "Morning" to her and immediately felt a little weird about it since we'd already done our morning greeting and therefore it felt like the wrong word to use. So I think at least for me, "Morning" is reserved for the first greeting of the day.

It is definitely not the case, either for me or for at minimum the majority of my coworkers and students, that "(Good) Morning" is reserved for people who just got out of bed, though, since it seems to be the preferred greeting by a wide margin all the way up until lunchtime.

[Side note, related to the video in this post. I am a habitual whistler and often when I'm out in the hallways between classes I whistle. (Yes, I realize this probably makes me despised by a number of people for whom whistling is like nails on a chalkboard. To be honest, I don't even know I'm doing it all the time.) All of the "Good morning" greetings that I participate in at the beginning of the day tends to put that song in my head, which makes it maybe my most frequently whistled song. ]

flatlander said...

Part two of the experiment: waking my offspring on a school morning by playing the video above. They loved it.

Chris Cooper said...

@ Lynne:

> If I hear it in my head, it's in a sort of brusque RP accent. Good day, old chaps!

Lynne, you will never hear that anywhere else than in your head. No native BrE-speaker ever addresses a group of males as "old chaps". It can't be pluralized in the second person like that.

Even saying "Good day, old chap!" sounds weird. "Old chap" has a sort of soothing or emollient or sympathetic tone to it that doesn't fit with the chirpiness of the greeting. "You're looking a bit rough this morning, old chap!" sounds more plausible.

At least, I imagine it being said in the sort of gentlemen's club where someone might be addressed as "old chap". I don't actually move in such circles.

Jen W said...

Just listened to the Allusionist episode--that was great! My dad is from Long Island (where I grew up) but my mom was born in London. She married him and came here at age 21, but never shook her accent or her manners. So your posts are great! I identify with both sides. I'm decidedly American, yet say "please" far more than most. Beginning to recognize why my work emails are sometimes seen as passive-aggressive!
So I'm more likely to pipe up with "Good morning!" when I greet people at work. Then again, quite a few people here aren't US natives. So maybe that's why I tend to hear it back. ;-)

Albert Welch said...

Massachusetts USA here.

Good Morning, Good Afternoon and Good Evenings are all greeting to be used in passing or on meeting prior to an assembly of some sorts, at more or less the appropriate time of day, with the boundaries between afternoon and morning/evening a bit fuzzy, but generally around noon and around sunset.Any of the 3 can be said with some or all of "good" elided. Any of them can be interchanged with Hello or any of its variants(Hi, Hey, 'lo, yo etc) or How are/do you (do), What's up, and their variants.

Good day and Good Night are either dismissals or farewells and can be interchanged with goodbye.

Within the home itself the day begins with good morning and ends with good night, and the closest thing to a greeting in between is usually an "I'm home" or an "excuse me I need to get by"(and less polite variants) and the farewell usually a bye or a bye bye. Hello seems out of context in a familiar/intimate setting.

As to the many senses of hello(hallo, hullo, ahoy) It can range from greeting:"Hello, nice to meet you" to surprise/curiosity "hello, what have we here?" to warning/announcement/alarm: "hello? anybody there?" to an imperative: "hello? pay attention!" to condescension/ridicule: Plaid with spots? Hello!"

In every case I can think of it either serves to emphasize a statement, or through tone imply one.

Regardless of when it is uttered the most annoying thing to a night owl is a morning person cheerfully sing songing goooood mooorning.

Anonymous said...

It is funny to think about this common greeting as I work a shift at my place of work commonly known as the "grave shift". In the morning, as the day moon rises, I typically see all the normal sleepers as they are preparing for the day ahead of them. Unfortunately, "Good Morning" is the last thing they want to hear due to its assumed sarcastic undertone; however to me, it really is a good morning as I am about to go home and inevitably fall asleep! Most assume it is said in a facetious manner, however in the morning this tone escapes me as delirium is catching up due to lack of sleep. Anyways, that's my two cents, so to those howling at the morning individuals cheerfully "sing songing" I say, be more positive! :)

Dick Hartzell said...

Reading Anonymous's comment about working the graveyard shift got me thinking about a memorably topical joke the American journalist William Shirer relates in his book Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941. I found the book online so I could quote the joke verbatim and not have to rely on my faulty memory. It's from an entry dated November 9, 1940:

The chief of the Air-Raid Protection in Berlin re-
cently advised the people to go to bed early and try to
snatch two or three hours of sleep before the bombings
start. Some take the advice, most do not. The Berliners
say that those who take the advice arrive in the cellar
after an alarm and greet their neighbours with a "Good
morning." This means they have been to sleep. Others
arrive and say: "Good evening!" This means they
haven't yet been to sleep. A few arrive and say: "Heil
Hitler!" This means they have always been asleep.

I read Berlin Diary perhaps 35 years ago and this joke stayed with me -- I guess because it had never occurred to me that ordinary Germans at this early date were willing to indulge in black humor about der Führer.

ZB said...

This post was a fascinating analysis of morning greetings. I must agree that the use of "good morning" does seem to be used mainly when the person being addressed is suffering from a rather bad case of bed-head. At least, thats how I perceive it as a midwesterner...

Julie said...

"Good Day," to me, cannot be separated from the voice of Paul Harvey, who ended has shows with a very distinctive signoff. I don't think I've ever heard it from anyone else.

I think I (Northern California native) commonly say "good morning" when it actually is morning, and "hello" or "howdy" (like Doug above, with a very flattened diphthong) the rest of the day. I modify the stress to show informality. (GO--OD morning is much less formal than good MORNing.) I don't think I would ever say "good afternoon" or "good evening." "Good night" means I'm either going home or going to bed, or both.

Dick Hartzell said...

I don't think I would ever say "good afternoon" or "good evening."

This claim suddenly made me think of something baseball commentators have been known to say in response to a 3-pitch strikeout. Without going into the minutiae of baseball terminology, a 3-pitch strikeout occurs quickly and often unexpectedly. So the commentator may recap the 3 stages of the event by saying "Good morning, good afternoon, and good night! That didn't take long."

Anonymous said...

If I may make some random points:

In Oz, they often substitue "g'day" for "Good morning" or "good afternoon", though both of these are very common.

In posh restaurants in England it is always morning until you've had luncheon.

In Tuscany it is customary in the later afternoon and evening to greet those whom you pass with the word "sera" (i.e "evening"). Of course Tuscany is known in Britain as Chiantishire due to the high number of English people you will find there. So it is possible that the Italians picked up on the British greeting. I don't know.

Anonymous said...

As a German I'm saying 'Morning' all the time, less often good morning. Using good morning reminds me of school and my teacher entering the class.
I use less often Guten Tag - Good day or guten Abend (I'd say 'nabend) - good evening (evening). During the day I'd prefer to say Hallo.

Jeff Adams said...

I am an American. In my experience, nearly all Americans in every part of America greet people in the morning with "Good morning." If somebody greets you first with "Hello," it would be OK to reciprocate with that. If they greet you with well-wishes along the lines of "Good morning," it seems a mite ill-mannered to reciprocate with a terse, cursory, perfunctory "Hello."

Jeff Adams said...

I am an American. Nearly all Americans greet people in the morning with "Good morning." In all of America. It seems borderline rude to do otherwise.