When Hello Means Goodbye

And goodbye means hello. Only in Hungary.

In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve picked up some Hungarian. The easy stuff: hello, goodbye, thank you, some of the numbers, cheers and some really random words.

The strangest thing that I noticed almost right away is how people casually great and say goodbye to you. To the English ear, it sounded flipped.

Are you ready for a short Hungarian lesson?

To say hello:

The Hungarian term is sziasztok or szia, pronounced “see-ya”.

To say goodbye:

The full form is viszontlátásra or viszlát, pronounced “vis-laat”, but many people will say allo as a way of saying goodbye. When I’m leaving a shop, people will normally say a string of things to me: “viszlát, szia, allo” as a way of saying goodbye.

I was so confused at first, but now its pretty normal. Having to explain this to the new teachers has been interesting. We just tell them that in Hungary hello means goodbye and goodbye means hello. Easy enough right?