Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 15:03:13 -0400
From: Beverly Flanigan
Subject: Re: hello, hello, and 99 bottles

And of course the Old English "waes hael" (be well > wassail, heal,
healthy) preceded the later "hail," as in "hail fellow, well met."

A sidenote (or sideways shift): In southern Ohio the tense /e/ of 'sale'
is laxed to /E/ (as in 'hail > hello' too) or even lowered to /ae/, as in
'available.' Similar laxing occurs with /i/, as in 'feel' > [fIl] and
'field > [fIld]. How widespread is this? I have it as far north as Dayton
(on US 70), but I don't think it's in Columbus.

BTW, we did "if one of those bottles ..." in Minnesota in the '50s, but
I've heard the other version since too.

At 04:36 PM 5/4/98 +0200, you wrote:
>The use of "ahoy" for "hello" on the telephone underlines the fact that
>"halloa" (etc.) was first used for hailing, or "hallooing".
>The earliest attestation of hello (et al) as greeting /interjection that
>the OED gives for British English is 1840:
>"Halloa there! Hugh," roared John.
> (Barnaby Rudge)
>An 1857 attestation is:
>"Hullo, who's there."
>(Tom Brown's Schooldays. I, XI)
>But in fact as a verb, the OED can go further back, to 1781:
>They were all halloaing at this oddity.
>(Madame D'Arblay: Diary, May)
>I was wondering what colloquial greetings if any, predated "hello"? in
>the United States. For British English I found early-mid 19th century
>_What cheer!_ in Dickens - something I used as a child, pronounced "what
>CHER". As in the old London song "Knocked me in the Old Kent Road",
>which starts:
>"What cher!" all the neighbours cried. "Who're you gonna meet Bill?
>Have you bought the street, Bill?"
>Another older form that's still occasionally heard is _What-o!"_
>(probably "what-ho!")
>David Sutcliffe