Each Wednesday, we’ll try to post a word or phrase in one of our new languages (Slovak and Romani) that will give you a glimpse into the place we’re going.
SLOVAK: Ahoj! [AH-hoy] *
MEANING: Ahoj is an expression that can be used for both “hello” and “goodbye” (similar in use to the Hawaiian expression “Aloha”). Ahoj is used only in informal conversations**.
Since this word can mean both “hello” and “goodbye,” there’s not an exact English equivalent (thinking of a certain Beatles’ song?). But the students learning English, in some of the schools we visited, thought that “hello” must also mean both things in English. We were expecting them to say “Hello!” to us in English when we entered the room… but we were surprised when they also said “Hello!” as we were leaving!
* In Slovak, emphasis always falls on the first syllable.
**Slovak has very prescribed rules about formal and informal conversations, that depend on what kind of speaking-terms you are on with someone. With a close friend, you would use informal terms. With a stranger or with someone in a position of authority, you would use formal terms.