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Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||'Cheers' as a synonym for 'Hello'|
|Question:||In reading Peter Trudgill's ''On Dialect'' I was surprised to come across an assertion that 'cheers' could be a substitute for 'hello.' As a native speaker of British English (West Sussex) I have never heard of 'cheers' as a greeting. It has only ever meant 'thanks' or a way to sign off an informal email (but even then only to replace 'thanks' as well as a toast. I have asked several people from different regions and ages and they were all equally surprised. Would anyone care to offer an explanation or evidence of Trudgill's statement?|
|Reply:||I don't know the Trudgill paper you mention. On the current use of the word, my experience matches yours. But the usage of "cheers" has changed a lot in my lifetime; the frequent present-day use to mean "thank you" doesn't go back before the 1980s, from what I remember (maybe late 1980s). Looking at older dictionaries under "cheer" I find more than one identify it specifically as a shout of "welcome", so it would not surprise me too much if there was a time when people said "cheers" for "hello" (I don't know whether Peter Trudgill was describing any particular period). That said, I don't actually remember such a usage (I was born in 1944). Geoffrey Sampson|
|Reply From:||Geoffrey Richard Sampson click here to access email|