Hello there! It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, I know, but I’ve been pretty busy lately. And I thought it’d be better to take a break and not write anything sub-par or forced while tired. And you’ve got plenty of old articles to read anyway.
Anyway, this is one of those times when I started writing without much of an idea in my head, but as soon as I started, I thought about that opening phrase: Hello there!
Why is there a there… there?
It’s not something I’ve spent too much time thinking about, and not something many other people have thought/written about. Because, I’m pretty sure, there’s no great mystery to it.
It’s pretty clear, from thinking about it, and actually reading older works in which the greeting’s used, that the there used to have a pretty literal meaning. The expression was used to call to someone a little far away. Not very far away obviously, or they wouldn’t hear you. And not too near either, or you wouldn’t need to say there. It’s basically short for Hello, you, over there!
But what does it mean now? Well, for a while it was used as a more cheerful version of hello, but now it’s a little more ironic. Probably because it’s even more old-fashioned than just hello, which is itself pretty old-fashioned at this stage. It’s still quite cheerful though, and I think that’s all because of the number of syllables.
Hello on its own can be somewhat cheerful, if we raise our tone on the second syllable. Hello there though, gives us a third syllable to play with. So we can raise our tone from the first to the second syllable, and then again, even higher, even more positively, from the second to the third syllable.
Just be careful how you use it though, as if your tone is a bit too relaxed or too friendly, it might be taken the wrong way!