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In the famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie states that “the sweetest and most important sound in any language” is a person’s own name. While that might be true, I’d venture to state that the most important sound is ‘hello’ in the person’s own language.

Without ‘hello’ you don’t have a chance to get to the other words. As anyone who travels and has learned how to say ‘hello’ in different languages knows, nothing can make a person brighten and open up as much as the effort to speak at least ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in the local language. It shows that we’re trying, that we care, and that we are conscientious travelers.

That’s why we put together a list to help you learn how to say ‘hello’ in 100 of the world’s most spoken languages:

hitchhiking in China
Thumbs up in China!
  1. Mandarin: nǐ hǎo

    Where it’s spoken: China, Taiwan, Singapore

  2. Spanish: hola

    Where it’s spoken: Hispanic America, Spain, United States, Equatorial Guinea, Western Sahara, Pacific islands

3. English: hello

Where it’s spoken: Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, South Africa, Singapore, Philippines

4. Hindi: namaste

Where it’s spoken: India, Fiji, Nepal

5. Arabic: marhabaan

Where it’s spoken: North Africa, Western Asia (Middle East), East Africa

6. Portuguese: olá, oi, alô

Where it’s spoken: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Timor-Leste

7. Bengali: hyālō

Where it’s spoken: Bangladesh, West Bengal (India), Tripura (India), Assam (India)

8. Russian: privet

Where it’s spoken: Russia, former Republics of the Soviet Union, Mongolia

9. Japanese: kon’nichiwa

Where it’s spoken: Japan

Dinner with a local in Tokyo, Japan

10. Punjabi: sata srī akāla

Where it’s spoken: Punjab region (India, Pakistan)

11. German: hallo, guten tag

Where it’s spoken: Austria, Belgium (Eupen-Malmedy), Germany, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, South Tirol (in Italy)

berlin things to do summer street art walking tour
Street art galore in Berlin

12. Javanese: nggoleki

Where it’s spoken: Java (Indonesia)

13. Wu (Shanghainese): nóng hō

Where it’s spoken: Zhejiang, Shanghai, southern Jiangsu (eastern China)

14. Malay/Indonesian: selamat siang

Where it’s spoken: Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore

15. Korean: annyeong haseyo

Where it’s spoken: North Korea, South Korea

16. Telugu: halō, vandanalu

Where it’s spoken: Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry (India)

17. Vietnamese: xin chào

Where it’s spoken: Vietnam

hmong woman in sapa vietnam
A lovely Hmong woman and her child in Sapa, Vietnam

18. French: bonjour

Where it’s spoken: Belgium (Wallonia, Brussels), Canada (particularly Quebec, New Brunswick and Eastern parts of Ontario), France, Switzerland, Francophone Africa, French Caribbean, French Polynesia, various islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

19. Marathi: hĕlō, namaskār

Where it’s spoken: Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat (India)

20. Tamil: vaṇakkam

Tamil Nadu, Karnataka (India), Puducherry (India), Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius

21. Urdu: assalam u alaikum

Where it’s spoken: India, Pakistan

22. Persian/Farsi: salām

Where it’s spoken: Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan

23. Turkish: merhaba

Where it’s spoken: Turkey, Cyprus, Bulgaria

24. Cantonese: nǐ hǎo

Where it’s spoken: Guangdong (Canton), southern Guangxi (southern China), Hong Kong, Macau

25. Italian: ciao

Where it’s spoken: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino

26. Thai: sà-wàt-dii

Where it’s spoken: Thailand

thailand packing list
The Silver Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand

27. Gujarati: namaste

Where it’s spoken: Gujarat (India)

28. Basque: kaixo

Where it’s spoken: Northern Spain

29. Minnan hua: lı́ hó

Where it’s spoken: Fujian, eastern part of Guandong (southeastern China), Hainan (southern China), Taiwan, Malaysia

30. Polish: cześć’

Where it’s spoken: Poland, USA, Germany, United Kingdom, Belarus, western Ukraine, Lithuania

31. Pashto: salam

Where it’s spoken: Afghanistan, Pakistan

32. Kannada: namaskāra

Where it’s spoken: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra (India)

33. Malayalam: halēā

Where it’s spoken: Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mahé (India)

34. Sundanese: sampurasun

Where it’s spoken: Java (Indonesia)

35. Chamorro: hafa adai

Where it’s spoken: this is a Austronesian language spoken mainly on the island of Guam, and also in the Marianas Islands.

36. Hausa: sannu

Where it’s spoken: Nigeria

37. Burmese: min-ga-la-ba

Where it’s spoken: Myanmar

The last off the beaten path destination in Southeast Asia

38. Oriya: namaskar

Where it’s spoken: Odisha (India)

39. Armenian: barev

Where it’s spoken: Armenia Georgi and Russia

40. Ukrainian: dobryj den

Where it’s spoken: Ukraine

41. Bhojpuri: prannam

Where it’s spoken: Bihar (India)

42. Tagalog: kamusta

Where it’s spoken: Manila and Northern Philippines

43. Yoruba: e nle o

Where it’s spoken: Nigeria, Benin and Togo

44. Maithili: prannam

Where it’s spoken: Bihar (India)

45. Sindhi: assalam o alaikum

Where it’s spoken: Sindh (Pakistan and neighboring areas in India)

46. Swahili: habari

Where it’s spoken: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda

gorilla trekking uganda
Saying hi to my new friends in Uganda

47. Uzbek: salom

Where it’s spoken: Uzbekistan

48. Amharic: selam

Where it’s spoken: Ethiopia

49. Fula: mihofnima

Where it’s spoken: West and Central Africa, from Senegal to Sudan

50. Igbo: kedu

Where it’s spoken: Nigeria

51. Oromo: akkam

Where it’s spoken: Ethiopia and Kenya

52. Romanian: bună

Where it’s spoken: Romania, Moldova

53. Azerbaijani: salam

Where it’s spoken: Azerbaijan and Northern Iran

54. Manipuri/Meitei: khurumjari

Where it’s spoken: North East India, Bangladesh, Burma

55. Chichewa: vanakkam

Where it’s spoken: Chichewa is a Bantu language spoken in parts of Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique

56. Cebuano: kumusta

Where it’s spoken: Central and Southern Philippines

honda bay
Making new friends in the Philippines!

57. Dutch: hallo

Where it’s spoken: Belgium (Flanders, Brussels), Netherlands and Suriname

58. Kurdish: slaw

Where it’s spoken: “Kurdistan”, northern Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria

59. Serbo-Croatian: zdravo

Where it’s spoken: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro

60. Malagasy: salama

Where it’s spoken: Madagascar

61. Nepali: namaste

Where it’s spoken: Nepal and neighbouring areas, Sikkim, (India)

paragliding nepal
paragliding Nepal

62. Saraiki: tudha kaya haal hai saine? (literally, “How are you?”)

Where it’s spoken: Sindh (Pakistan)

63. Santali: henda ho

Where it’s spoken: India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan

64. Khmer: choum reap sor

Where it’s spoken: Cambodia

65. Sinhalese: ayubowan

Where it’s spoken: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka East Coast
Beautiful, beautiful Sri Lanka

66. Bambara: i ni ce

Where it’s spoken: Bambara is a Mali Mande language with about 3 million speakers in Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ghana

67. Assamese: namaskhar

Assam (India)

68. Madurese: selamat + pagi/siang/sore/malam (for “good morning/day/afternoon/evening”)

Where it’s spoken: Madura, and Java (Indonesia)

69. Somali: salaam alaykum

Where it’s spoken: Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Yemen

70. Magahi: pernaam (for older person)/subh pyaar (for younger person)

Where it’s spoken: Bihar (India)

71. Dogri: ke aal aee

Where it’s spoken: Kashmir Jamu (india)

72. Marwari: khammaghani

Where it’s spoken: Rajastan (India and Pakistan)

73. Hungarian: szia

Where it’s spoken: Hungary and areas in neighbouring countries

74. Chewa: moni

Where it’s spoken: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Vilanculos mozambique
A fisherman in Vilanculos, Mozambique

75. Greek: wo ho te sεn? (literally, “How are you?”)

Where it’s spoken: Greece, Cyprus

76. Akan/Twi: kumno

Where it’s spoken: Ghana, Ivory Coast

77. Khasi: Nga ieid ia phi

Where it’s spoken: Meghalaya state in India by the Khasi people.

78. Kazakh: dumela rra (when addressing men)/dumela mama (when addressing women)

Where it’s spoken: Kazakhstan

79. Tswana: dumela rra (when addressing men)/dumela mama (when addressing women)

Where it’s spoken: Botswana and Zimbabwe

elephant sands botswana

80. Hebrew: Shalom

Where it’s spoken: Israel

81. Zulu: Ngiyakuthanda

Where it’s spoken: South Africa

82. Czech: ahoj

Where it’s spoken: Czech Republic

83. Kinyarwanda: muraho

Where it’s spoken: Rwanda

84. Kokani: deu boro dis dium

Where it’s spoken: Goa (india)

85. Konkani: deu boro dis dium

Goa (India)

86. Haitian Creole: bonjou (before noon)/bonswa (after noon)

Where it’s spoken: Haiti

87. Afrikaans: goeie + dag/môre/middag/naand (means, “good day/mornign/afternoon/evening)

Where it’s spoken: South Africa

south africa road trip
Taken on a road trip in South Africa

88. Min Dong: nü hou

Where it’s spoken: Fujian (Southeastern China)

89. Ilokano: naimbag nga aldaw (literally, “good day”)

Where it’s spoken: Northern Luzon in the Philippines

90. Quechua: allianchu

Where it’s spoken: Peru and Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Argentina

salinas de maras
Salinas de Maras, Peru

91. Kirundi: bite

Where it’s spoken: Burundi and Uganda

92. Swedish: hej

Where it’s spoken: Sweden and Finland

93. Hmong: Kuv hlub koj

Where it’s spoken: Laos and neighbouring areas

94. Shona: mhoro

Where it’s spoken: Zimbabwe

95. Hiligaynon: hello

Where it’s spoken: Western Visayas in the Philippines

96. Uyghur: yaxshimusiz

Where it’s spoken: Xinjiang (Western China)

97. Balochi: chone tao? (literally, “How are you?”)

Where it’s spoken: Balochistan (province in Pakistan and Iran)

98. Belarusian: dobry dzień

Where it’s spoken: Belarus

99. Mossi: Kei te aroha au ki a koe

Where it’s spoken: Burkina Faso

99. Xhosa: ne y windiga

Where it’s spoken: Burkina Faso

100. Xhosa: mholweni

Where it’s spoken: South Africa, Zimbabwe

Regardless of where you’re traveling to, knowing at least hello can open so many doors. Hopefully this list got you closer to learning some new languages today.

You had me at hello... Learn how to say "hello" in 100 of the world's most spoken languages. It's the perfect ice breaker when you are traveling in foreign countries!
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