Tag Archives: greeting

Hamburg Greeting Exchange ‘Hummel Hummel’ ‘Mors Mors’

Context:

Informant RH grew up in Jesteburg, a village in the area surrounding Hamburg, Germany. He spent parts of his young adulthood living in or near the city of Hamburg.

Main piece:

RH: Es gibt so ein anderes das so ein 'call answer pattern' ist, das is "Hummel Hummel, Mors Mors." 

SH: Sag das noch mal?

RH: Hummel Hummel, also H-U-M-M-E-L, zwei mal, und die Antwort ist dann Mors Mors, M-O-R-S. 

SH: Ah, okay. Was bedeutet das?

RH: Also ich glaube da war früher in Hamburg jemand der, so irgendwie so'n Wasserträger oder so was, oder der so recht, so ein bisschen geistig behindert war, und ich glaub der hieß Hummel. Und den haben die Kinder immer geärgert und haben ihm dann hinterhergerufen 'Hummel Hummel,' und er hat zurück gerufen 'Mors Mors,' denn Mors is das Plattdeutsche Wort für Hintern, für Arsch.

SH: Also das war dann am Anfang benutzt als, so nur für den Typ, aber wie war das dann danach benutzt geworden?

RH: Ja so als, als, Grüßwort oder als, einfach wenn du jemanden triffst so 'Hummel Hummel,' 'Mors Mors.'

SH: Das ist interessant, dass hab ich noch nie eigentlich gehört in Hamburg. 

RH: Ja das, also ich weiß nicht ob's noch gemacht wird.

SH: Ist ein bisschen Altmodisch jetzt oder?

RH: Ist ein bisschen Altmodisch, ja. 

Translation:

RH: There's another one that's one of those 'call answer patterns,' which is "Hummel Hummel, Mors Mors."

SH: Say that again?

RH: Hummel Hummel, so H-U-M-M-E-L, two times, and then the answer is Mors Mors, M-O-R-S. 

SH: Ah, okay. What does that mean?

RH: So I think there used to be someone in Hamburg that was, so, some kind of like, a water carrier or something like that, or who was quite, like somewhat mentally disabled, and I think he was called Hummel. And the kids would always go and bother him and yelled after him 'Hummel Hummel,' and he would yell back 'Mors Mors,' because Mors is the Plattdeutsch word for behind, for ass. 

SH: So at the beginning that was used for, like just this guy, but how was it used after that?

RH: Yeah so as, as greeting phrase or like, simply when you meet someone like 'Hummel Hummel,' 'Mors Mors.'

SH: That's interesting, I've never actually heard that in Hamburg.

RH: Yeah it's, like I don't know if it's still done.

SH: Is it a little bit old fashioned now or?

RH: It's a little old fashioned, yes.

Analysis:

‘Hummel Hummel,’ ‘Mors Mors’ exists as a greeting form and as an identificatory symbol of those originating from or living in Hamburg. Before the advent of a running water plumbing system, the profession of water carrier was a pretty normal occupation and part of life in Hamburg The city of Hamburg even has an article on their website explaining the origins of the saying and pointing tourists in the direction of the multiple water carrier statues that still remain in the city. Hummel has taken on a sort of legendary status within the city of Hamburg, which led to the integration of his name (which may not even have been his true name) into popular speech.

One thing to point out here is the integration of a Plattdeutsch phrase that turned into the ‘Mors Mors’ portion of the greeting pattern. Plattdeutsch is a German dialect that is common to northern Germany, but has long been not taught in schools in favor of the standard ‘Hochdeutsch’ or High German. The dialect is associated with poorer, rural populations, and has a class connotation. The ‘Mors Mors’ is likely a shortening of a longer Plattdeutsch phrase, though I do not conclusively know what the full phrase is since I’ve found multiple versions and neither I nor RH speak Plattdeutsch.

The phrase recalls a part of Hamburg’s history, of the water carriers and of the Plattdeutsch dialect, that unites the people using it as a specifically northern German group. The dialect was the predominant language in northern Germany and was pushed out largely by the uniting of Germany and standardization of the German language under the Grimm Brothers’ dictionary which centered southern German ‘High German.’ The dialect survives mostly in rural communities (one set of my grandparents speaks Plattdeutsch, but did not pass it on to their children), but is largely not institutionally accepted. Preserving a part of the dialect in folk speech is a way for northern Germany to retain some of its linguistic identity in spite of attempted institutional erasure.

For more information on ‘Hummel Hummel,’ ‘Mors Mors,’ refer to the article “Wasserträger Statue,” by Hamburg.com (accessible at https://www.hamburg.com/sights/memorials/11747510/wassertraeger/).

Hamburg Greeting ‘Moin’ (or ‘Moin Moin’)

Context:

RH grew up in small villages around the city of Hamburg and spent parts of his young adulthood living in or commuting to the city for work. Now, he lives in the United States, but some of his colleagues are also either originally from Hamburg or still live there and communicate via video calls.

Main Piece:

RH: 'Moin Moin' sagt man auch also so'n Grüßspruch. 

SH: Weißt du wo 'Moin Moin' herkommt? 

RH: Nein. Ich weiß das nicht wo das herkommt.

SH: Ok.

RH: Das ist, also, ich hatte früher gedacht das das einfach 'ne Hamburger, also eine Plattdeutsche version von 'Morgen,' so von 'Guten Morgen' wäre, aber das ist es glaub ich nicht. Aber das müsste mann bestimmt auch rausfinden können. 

SH: Ja. Also 'Moin,' oder 'Moin Moin' ist, sehr Hamburg-isch?

RH: Ja ist es. Das sagen meine Kollegen morgens auch viel. Ich weiß nicht was die Amerikaner davon halten, aber. 

Translation:

RH: You also say 'Moin Moin' as a greeting phrase. 

SH: Do you know where 'Moin Moin' comes from?

RH: No. I don't know where it comes from.

SH: Ok.

RH: That is, so, I used to think that it was just a Hamburg, so a Plattdeutsch version of 'Morning' as in 'Good Morning,' but I don't think it is. But you should to be able to figure that out.

SH: Yeah. So 'Moin' or 'Moin Moin' is, very Hamburg-y?

RH: Yes it is. My colleagues say it often in the mornings. I don't know what the Americans make of it, though.

Analysis:

RH is from the area surrounding Hamburg, where the usage of ‘Moin’ as a greeting is very common. He mentions the theory that ‘Moin’ originates from a Plattdeutsch word for ‘morning,’ but says he does not believe that theory anymore. One reason for doubting that theory is that the usage of ‘Moin’ is not restricted to the morning, but can be used any time of day, and even as a goodbye.

RH does not speak Plattdeutsch, which is why he is not sure if ‘Moin’ could track back to the dialect. Plattdeutsch is a dialect of German that was the prevailing language in northern Germany until the formation of the German nation-state and the following standardization of the German language and education system that favored southern German ‘High German’ instead. Plattdeutsch has an association with rural and poorer people and carries a class connotation.

‘Moin’ is the first example of northern German slang that I would think of if asked. It’s overwhelmingly common and has spread far beyond just northern Germany. I have frequently heard it used when in Hamburg, and unlike many other examples of folk speech that have distant historical roots, it seems to be fairly popular with the youth. This is a contrast to ‘Hummel Hummel,’ ‘Mors Mors,’ another northern German greeting that is now generally seen as an old fashioned greeting. In contrast, ‘Moin,’ or ‘Moin Moin’ is a very casual way to greet someone, and is a multi-purpose greeting that does not need to be tailored to specific occasions. For more information on ‘Hummel Hummel,’ ‘Mors Mors’ and the Plattdeutsch dialect, see “Hamburg Greeting Exchange ‘Hummel Hummel’ ‘Mors Mors'” by Stella Horns on the USC Digital Folklore Archives.

“Sah Dude?” As a Greeting

Main Piece:

Informant: “Sah dude?” It is basically saying, what’s up, dude? Usually there are some kinda handshakes involved, usually like a hang lose, or a rock on sign. 

Interviewer: Who used this?

Informant: Usually teenage young adult men. A lot of the guys with trucks that I went to school with. I think that says enough, haha. 

Interviewer: Did you ever use it? 

Informant: No. I mean I did on occasion, but I would say it back sorta like in a mocking way. I was also kind of a tomboy so maybe that is why they always did it with me as well? The people who used it the most were on the Dive team at my high school, at least when I was there. But now I see a lot of people at school use it, a lot of the frat bros use it when they see each other at parties and I have started using it a little bit more because of it.

Background

My informant is a good friend and housemate of mine from USC and is a senior at the University of Southern California majoring in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention with a minor in Health Care Studies from San Dimas, CA. She says that a lot of her mannerisms and sayings come from growing up in San Dimas which she describes as being a very small town outside of Los Angeles that feels more midwest than the West coast. She attended summer camps throughout most of her life, starting as a camper and becoming a counselor in high school. 

Context

My informant took me back to her hometown the week of her birthday to visit her family and to get her tire fixed. She wanted to show me around the city before we went back to LA, and decided to stop at a local strawberry farm. The worker there was a good friend of hers from high school, and when they saw each other they greeted each other by saying “Suh Dude?” Remembering this instance, I brought it up with her when she was willing to interview with me and explained the greeting to me. 

Analysis

I find it interesting that this folk greeting seems to be very popular at USC and the greater Los Angeles area among young men. It is easy to say where they got the saying from, as it is a condensed way of saying “what is up, dude?” and is probably much more convenient for them to say. Usually, this greeting is accompanied with some sort of handshake between males, leading me to believe it is an indicator of masculinity that is being expressed in this greeting. Although my informant is a female, she has expressed that since she is a tomboy they usually greet her the same way. 

Mano Po and Beso

Pauline is an international student from the Philippines. She is studying Chemical Engineering in the United States, and she plans to return to the Philippines once she graduates and receives her B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Her hobbies are watching anime, eating delicious food, and taking naps.

Original Script

One of the customs in the Philippines is this thing called mano po, which is basically like when you see like one of your older relatives like an aunt or grandparent or anyone who is basically older than you, you have to grab their hand and then you like place it on their forehead and then you say, “Mano po.” And that’s like the way of greeting people, like greeting of the elders, but people don’t really do it anymore in the city. I only do it when I visit my relatives in the province. So instead, like in the city, we just do this thing called beso, where you basically just put your cheek on someone else’s like, “Mwah, beso, hi.”

Background Information about the Performance from the Informant

The informant’s parents taught her this greeting when she was young. During visits to her elders, she would have to perform mano po. However, this greeting became less prevalent in her life as she grew older. Now, she only has to perform mano po for her older relatives in rural areas; in cities, she does beso.

Context of the Performance

I interviewed the informant in a study room at Parkside IRC.

In the Philippines, mano po is a gesture performed as either a sign of respect to an elder or an acceptance of one’s blessings from the elder. In Filipino culture, the youth are expected to respect and value their elders for their wisdom and experience accumulated over the years. By offering one’s hand to an elder, one is demonstrating subservience to the elder and welcoming his or her blessings and knowledge. While mano po is still widely used in the Philippines, many Filipinos have replaced this gesture with beso. Not restricted to just older people, it has become a more common greeting between close friends and relatives in the Philippines.

My Thoughts about the Performance

Learning about the Filipino gestures, mano po and beso, reminded me of the various greetings I have practiced or observed from other cultures. Coming from a Cantonese background, I have been raised to respect my elders and obey whatever they say. Compared to the United States, which possesses a future-oriented culture, many East Asian countries seem to have a past-oriented culture, holding elders in high esteem. The beso reminded me of the cheek kissing gesture practiced by the French. Both nations perform this action in social functions to indicate friendship or respect.

Arabic Saying

Original Text:
كل عام و انتم بخير

Phonetic: Kull A’am wa inty/inta bekhair.

Transliteration: Kull A’am wa Inty/inta bekhair. (inty=you female, inta=you male)

Full Translation: May you be blessed every year.

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: “Usually said to by one person to another during birthdays, Holidays (especially Eid of Ramadan) or any occasion that marks the passing of a year.

Every Arab speaking person knows this saying. It’s a system of greetings and responses that are seemingly endless in the Arabic language. For instance if some says ‘Kull A’am Wa Inty Bekhair’, you MUST respond ‘Wa inty bekhair’, meaning ‘and you as well’.

The Arabic language is really big on greetings and goodbyes, you could have a full 20-minute conversation just saying goodbye to someone.”

Context of the Performance: Greeting someone in Arabic Society

Thoughts about the piece: This Arabic saying that Reem had presented to me was very interesting, because of how it contradicted with the English language. Firstly, I compared this saying to the traditionally said, “Happy New Year,” when, of course, the New Year comes around. However, in the Arabic language, the literal translation meaning: “may you be blessed every year,” is a huge difference from the English language. To start, the English saying is singular, meaning just this new year is wished well, while the Arabic one is plural, may you be blessed for the years to come. Furthermore, the term “Happy New Year” correlates to the other English term “Happy Holidays” it is a general saying that applies to all cultures, religions and/ or belief system. While, the Arabic saying “may you be blessed every year,” the word “blessed” has specific religious undertones in it. It is also interesting that the Arabic language is big on saying goodbye to someone, while in the United States, it is usually just, “bye” or “have a good day.”

However, I did find a particular similarity, which was that both the greetings are future orientation. While I have heard of some cultures saying, “I hope you had a good past year” (of course, not in English), it is interesting that both the Arabic society and the American one have a future orientated greeting, even though the American one supposedly is only good until the next new year comes around, while the Arabic one transcends to many years to come.