What is "a greeting"? It is a kind of a polite expression or a gesture done when greeting another person.
We all know that greetings are essential part in our everyday life no matter where we live, what we do, who we are or what culture we belong to. We cannot imagine a single day without greeting somebody.
There are lots of different kinds of greetings which are used in various situations depending on how well we know a particular person, on time of the day or circumstances of the meeting. The words said when greeting people can express respect or be just a normal polite expression. Very often, they show joy because of the meeting or even are a spoken joke.
Now, I would like to present some most important and common Polish expressions used to greet people.
Dzień dobry is a general official form of greeting people we do not know and older people. We use it no matter whether it is morning (in English: Good morning) or afternoon (in English: Good afternoon).
Dobry wieczór (in English: Good evening) is similar to Dzień dobry, but it is used in the evening.
Dobranoc (in English: Good night) is said when people leave each other in the evening or before going to bed.
Do widzenia! (in English: Goodbye) is used when someone leaves or is left.
Cześć! (in English: Hi!, Hello!, Bye!) is an informal expression we use both when we want to greet our friends, relatives, children and people we know well and when we want to say goodbye.
Witam! or Witaj! is quite similar to Cześć! but a little bit less emotional.
Czołem! is again close to Cześć! but it sounds more archaically and less familiar.
Jak się masz!, Jak się miewasz!, Co u Ciebie słychać! or Co słychać! (in English: How do you do?, How are you?) is a greeting which expresses interest in mood and health condition of the person we have met.
Polish language has also got a few more informal ways of greeting. Here are they:
Graba!, Grabula!, Witka!, Kopsnij witkę!, Strzała! or Strzałeczka! are mostly used by men. It encourages to offer one’s hand and is connected with the gesture of shaking hands (used by people who know each other very well).
Piątka!, Kopsnij piątkę! or Przybij piątkę! are very similar to Graba! etc. but it is connected with the gesture of ‘giving somebody five’.
Kopę lat! meaning: I haven’t seen you for ages! It emphasizes the fact that a lot of time has passed since the last meeting.
Sie masz! or Sie ma! is a shortened version of Jak się masz! (How do you do?) which has become characteristic among teenagers.
Szczęść Boże! (in English: God bless!) is a greeting sometimes used by Catholics. The answer is: Daj Boże!
Similar in meaning is: Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus! or just Pochwalony! (in English: Praised be Jesus Christ!). As a reply to this greeting we say: Na wieki wieków, amen!
We have also got some gestures which are sometimes used as a greeting:
- Shaking hands,
- Taking off one’s headgear for a moment,
- Raising one’s open hand up,
- Nodding one’s head,
- Giving somebody five,
- Kissing somebody’s hand (a man kisses a woman’s hand),
- Kissing one’s cheeks,
As you can notice, there are lots of ways to greet people we meet and this is the case not only in Polish, but also in other languages. It is quite important because every time we see a person we realize we should greet him/her as it would be unkind not to say anything.
Remember: A greeting is a notice and a sign of politeness and good behaviour.