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ciao, slave!

Mashed Radish

After a blogging break, I figured there’d be no better way to say “hello” than to say “goodbye.”

Linguistically, the phenomenon is not uncommon, actually. Hawaiian has aloha and Hebrew has shalom, for instance. And Italian of course, has ciao, which has been widely taken up across different tongues as an informal and familiar greeting for “hi” and “bye.” This includes many parts of South America, as you may be well familiar. I heard it quite frequently last week in Chile as chau, often reduplicated as chau chau and sometimes spelled as chao.

From Slaves to Kings

You may also be familiar that the  Italian ciao goes back to a Venetian salutation of schiavo, part of an expression literally meaning “I am your slave” but functioning, as many note, as a good-will way of saying “at your service.” The word spread during extensive Italian immigration during the 19th and 20th centuries…

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