You Say Goodbye, And I Say Hello

In this blog, I don’t make nearly as many comments about the Spanish language as I should. Sure, I pointed out in the Construction Sblog that in Spanish, some vehicle-related terms take on warped English names (“backhoe” becomes “bah-hop”; “pickup” becomes “la picka”; and “Can you give me a ride?” becomes “Me hace un rye?”). Anyhow, I think that my years studying German and living in Germany made me focus on that Teutonic language’s idiosyncrasies, of which there are certainly too many to comfortably count.
However, there is at least one great thing I’ve noticed about the Spanish language, at least in its Costa Rican flavor: the use of the word “adiós.” Here, it’s almost like a Tico “aloha,” and it’s used for saying both hello and goodbye. Actually, in San Ramón and the surrounding areas, it almost seems to be used more as a greeting than a farewell. To take leave, most people often just say “Hasta luego” or something similar.
After I moved to San Ramón, it took a bit of getting used to when I’d pass people on the street and they’d greet me with an “adiós.” The word itself, coupled with a downward intonation, was actually kind of cool. For me, it seemed to express, “Hello, I’m acknowledging your existence, but I don’t really want to get into a conversation with you…so just keep it moving there, buddy.” Really, any language could benefit from more multi-purpose words like that.
In Berlín, the adiós-as-greeting is definitely alive and well, but here it’s evolved a bit further. If you’re outside working in your yard or walking along the road and a car passes you, the driver is likely to honk his horn (yes, his horn). To this, most people reply with a sort of shouted “adiós!” but it’s so short and cut that it sounds more like “Dyaaa!” However, it’s still great because it’s formal and laid-back at the same time.
Once again, though, the only problem is when things get lost in translation. As you may know, I work in Heredia for an American company, so the majority of interactions you’ll hear in the halls tend to incorporate at least some variety of English or at least Spanglish. However, I’ve noticed that on multiple occasions, some random Costa Ricans who I’ve passed in the halls have greeted me by saying, “Goodbye!”
So, my dear readers, with that linguistic tidbit, I bid you “Hello!”

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