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Answering the questions: Why Do We Say Hello. What Is RSVP.

Updated on November 14, 2015


Do you answer the pone with 'Hello

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Phone Etiquette

Businesses answer the phone with their company and the first name of the person answering the phone.

Now people are using their answering machines to weed out unwanted phone calls.

You can have your answering machine answer the phone for you with interesting greetings.

Why Do We Say Hello?

But did you know the use of ‘Hello’ for answering the telephone is credited to Thomas Edison? We all know Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Did you also know that the first telephone operators in 1889 were known as the ‘Hello-girls’?

The word ‘hello’ has been in print since the 1860’s, which predates the telephone. It may derive from ‘Hullo’ used in print as early as 1838 by Charles Dickens, and in common usage in most English speaking countries.

Or it could come from the word ‘holla’. ‘Holla’ is a shout to attract attention, first recorded in 1588, and related to the 16th Century French ‘hola’, translates ‘ho there’.

Bell used the words the navy used, “Ahoy-how” – not ‘Hello’.

The myth is he did not say ‘hello’ instead he said ‘Ahoy-hoy’.

When Graham Bell’s assistant Watson was working on a liquid transmitter. Watson went to the receiving end of the line, in the Graham Bell’s room. When Watson picked up the receiving end, he could hear Bell’s voice. Watson ran towards Bell in another room, shouting he could hear him. This is where many people mistakenly think Alexander Graham Bell said ‘hello’.

Another myth says Bell’s wife, Mabel on the receiving side of the telephone he uttered was hello, this is also not correct.

At the same time, Thomas Edison also working on making the telephone – but Bell won the race. However, in 1877 Edison invented the carbon button transmitter, which proved to be the basic component of the telephonic communication. The impatient Edison too rushed to speak out, and instead of asking or saying ‘are you there’ shouted ‘hello’ into the receiver.

Isn’t it interesting to know that Thomas Edison was the one who popularized the word ‘hello’, not the inventor Alexander Graham Bell?

‘Hello’ is a means of introduction to an open line of communication. A form of greeting or meeting someone in person or answering the phone.

You could replace it with any other word such as ‘yes?’ or ‘what?’ or as many company’s do “stating their name, this is Jeanne, how may I help you?”.

This is a good way to let people know whom they called, which they are talking to and are willing to help them.

If you have caller ID you know before you pick up the phone who is calling you. But, ‘Hello’ is still a pleasant recognition.

It is the socially acceptable means of greeting another person, and you should know why people greet you … if you don’t... did you just fly in from Mars?

RSVP – What Does I Stand For?

The literal meaning in French “répondez, s’il vous plaît,”translates to “Please tell me if you plan to come”, or “Please respond”.

If you receive an invitation with RSVP on it, it is polite to respond. It is rude not to respond to their request. If you do not respond, that means whoever sent you that invitation will have to call you or get in touch to find out if you are going to attend.

Some invitations will have a card that you can put in the mail showing you will or will not attend and how many. If there is not a card but only the RSVP, you can either send a short note saying you will or will not attend or give them a call letting them know.

This request does not mean to respond only if you are going to attend, it also means reply if you aren’t going to attend.

The reason they sent this with the R.S.V.P. they need to know how much food to prepare, how much coffee, pop, wine to purchase. If there are party favors they need a count. Otherwise they have to guess.

Conte Baldassare Castiglione, an Italian diplomat, was considered a great man and a big influence in the Italian Renaissance and wrote the first book about proper behavior among the nobility in the 16th century, “The Book of the Courtier”, published in 1528 and an English edition published in 1561. More information and explanation on the Internet under Wikipedia.

Most of the practices of Western etiquette come from the French court of Kings’. Louis XIV in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, at Versailles, and Louis XIV palace, had the rules for court behavior written on “tickets”. The tickets were signs posted at Versailles or on the invitations issued to court events with the ‘rules of behavior’ printed on the back, but you will find different versions of the origin.

French was thought the language of refinement and high society through the 19th century in the United States.

The author of etiquette books, Judith Martin, or “Miss Manners”, a syndicated newspaper columnist thought that “R.S.V.P.” came about as a polite way of reminding people something that they should already know: She said, “If you receive an invitation, you should reply”.

The new Emily Post’s Etiquette tries to offer standard tradition. “Anyone receiving an invitation with an R.S.V.P. on it is obliged to reply – whether they are attending or not attending your function. Emily Post further advises anyone must reply promptly, and should reply within a day or two of receiving the invitation.

It should be noted that in today’s climate – most people have no idea what RSVP means, so ignore it completely. You can see on the Internet the many requests of what does RSVP stand for?

Our society seems to be losing what etiquette we had and when we receive a request like RSVP, many people have no idea what to do. When anyone received an invitation with something they don’t understand – ask!

If you see R.S.V.P on an invitation send a reply.


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    • Jeanne Hoback profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeanne Hoback 

      3 years ago from Rapid City, SD

      Your comment is very interesting, I never thought of it like that!

    • profile image


      3 years ago from Colorado

      Hello Jeanne-

      It seems that you asked and answered your own questions. Maybe they should have been offered as statements instead. "What RSVP actually means. A prelude to a discussion on etiquette."


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