So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye, are all words of departure but there are so many more

Ciao, ta ta, bye

At the place I once worked, one of my co-workers suddenly discovered the word ciao. For years he had ended calls with a usual departure such as goodbye or, the more informal, see you later. But then ciao hit the scene.

I didn't have anything against the word, but over-use of it in the presence of others is a bit like a dripping tap late at night - everything stands still while you wait for the next drip. I would be waiting for the end of his chats so he could say ciao and we could all go back to work.

Ciao seems to have spread beyond its native Italy in the '60s, with Lynne Randell popularising it in the song Ciao Baby (1967), and Italian movie star Sophia Loren coming to the fore. I know Ernest Hemingway used it in his 1929 book A Farewell to Arms.

Another co-worker was fond of the word hooray. I had nothing against it either, but I had used it as a child more than 50 years ago and I thought it had gone out with the figurative ark. To hear a relatively young person still using such an expression in a busy modern office was another example of the dripping tap syndrome.

My childhood use of hooray has had a long life in Australia. The Bulletin of June 4, 1898 said on the red page: "in many places the salutation good-day or good-night is simply hooray".

But hooray gave way to hooroo, and even that started to die out until television gardener Don Burke decided to use it to end his program.

So, how do modern Australians end their conversations? I don't have a definitive answer, but the question arose when a reader said one of her students in Newcastle wanted to know the meaning of toodlepip.

It's relatively common in Britain. Most dictionaries say it is either "an informal farewell remark" or "a posh person's way of saying goodbye". An American dictionary said it had fallen into disuse and was heard only when Americans were doing impressions of the Brits.

In my impression of Americans - have a nice day.

This story Ciao, ta ta, bye first appeared on Port Macquarie News.

Comments