Friday, November 16, 2018

“Hi” vs. “hello”

Milkman Dead is paying a rare visit to Pilate Dead, his aunt. His friend Guitar Bains is with him. Pilate is peeling an orange.

Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (1977).

Pilate then instructs the young men: “You say ‘Hi’ to pigs and sheep when you want ’em to move. When you tell a human being ‘Hi,’ he ought to get up and knock you down.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines hi as “an exclamation used to call attention.” Nothing about animals, but there is this citation from 1847: “‘Hi!’ cried the brigand, giving the mule a bang with the butt-end of his musket. ‘Hi!’”

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