February 22, 2007

Cultural differences: Greetings

The Honduran greeting kiss is closer than the celebrity 'air kiss.'
It's more like the Camilla and Charles kiss. ;-D

Hugs and kisses abound in Honduras culture. Women usually greet each other with a little hug and a kissing gesture on the cheek, even when meeting for the first time.

Men who are relatives or close friends may greet women that way, too. Among each other, men will usually shake hands, sometimes accompanied by a hug and a pat on the back if they are friends or family. The same gestures are exchanged again when parting.

Coming from a very non-demonstrative family, this was a little uncomfortable at first but I've grown to like it. Children meeting you for the first time will often say hello and then give you a big hug which is really sweet.

Greetings almost always begin with 'buenos días' (good day) or 'buenas tardes' (good afternoon) or simply 'buenas.' Buenos días is used until exactly noon at which time you switch to buenas tardes. Supposedly, buenas noches (good evening) begins at dark, but I've had others tell me that it signifies good night, as in goodbye, just as it does in English. When in doubt, just say 'buenas' − it's an all occasion word.

A bit confusing to me was the Honduran accent which drops the 's' so that what my ear hears is bueno' día' and buena' noche'. It made sense to me, since you are only wishing someone one good day, but when I asked about it, it seems that they think they are saying the 's'. If I say buena' noche', it's guaranteed to get weird looks, even though to my ears it sounds exactly like what they are saying.

Mucho gusto is akin to 'nice to meet you' or 'nice to see you again' − that comes in handy when you can't remember if you met the person before.

¡Buen provecho! (Enjoy your meal!) is commonly said when passing by someone who is eating in a restaurant, even to strangers.

Hola (Hi) is an appropriate casual greeting among friends.
'Buenas' is commonly used here when arriving or to get someone's attention.

Adiós (goodbye) or ¿que tal? (Hello. How are you?) are also used to acknowledge an acquaintance in a situation where you can't or don't have time to stop to chat, for example if the person is on the other side of the street or you don't know them that well. It's sort of a hello and goodbye all in one.

Don or doña (master or mistress of the house) are terms of respect used with the first name. Don or doña are often used with those of a higher rank in business or social status where 'Señor Garcia or Señora Garcia' would be too formal. Older people are almost always referred to as don Juan or doña Juana no matter what their social standing. Employees greeting or referring to their boss will often say 'don Juan.'

Nos vemos (we'll see you) is the customary casual way of saying goodbye.

So .... ¡Mucho gusto! ¡Hasta la proxima vez!

(Nice to see you! Until the next time!)

Newer posts Older posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...