PDA

View Full Version : UK Dopers: What is the correct response to "Alright?"


sandra_nz
04-09-2008, 08:57 AM
I've recently started a new job and the people here have a tendency to greet me in the hallway with "Alright?".

I'm not sure how I'm supposed to respond. I tend to say "Good thanks, and you?" which sounds naff. Am I just supposed to say "Alright?" in return?

Ximenean
04-09-2008, 09:10 AM
Am I just supposed to say "Alright?" in return?
Yes. Often pronounced "aw-right?". You are not expected to say whether or not you are actually alright.

yojimbo
04-09-2008, 09:43 AM
In Ireland the commonest response would be "Alright?" or "How's it going?"

The most you'd go with actually answering the question would be something like "No too bad" or the like. As Usarm says it's not a real request, it's an expression which can be replaced with "Hello"

sandra_nz
04-09-2008, 09:47 AM
But when I say "aw-right?" I sound really stupid....

Sound naff, or sound stupid...it's a tough decision!

Zeldar
04-09-2008, 09:57 AM
Please forgive this non-UK intrusion, but I've had the experience of being counter-greeted, after saying nothing more than the other person's name, with "Purty good, you?" It tends to preclude any further exchange. Might work for you.

Celyn
04-09-2008, 09:57 AM
I still haven't got the hang of that "all right" thing and I've lived here all of my life. Any random "greeting" reply should work, such as "Hello, how are you?" "Fine here, how are you?", "Hello, how's things" (yes I *know that's a singular verb with a plural noun, but try not to worry). :)

I suppose I'm used to sounding both stupid and naff. :D And if you are from New Zealand, and therefore have a sort of "foreigner's licence to be a bit different", then why not use it? :)

Giles
04-09-2008, 09:59 AM
Like any version of "How are you?", it does not require a real response. "Fine, thanks" or "Can't complain!" are about as far as you need go. A five-minute description of how your dog died, your wife just left you, your chemotherapy is going badly, and your budgerigar is calling you nasty names will not go down well.

In addition, in the UK, you are not required to respond in the same dialect as your interlocutor, if that's not your native dialect. You can respond with your own dialect's version of "Fine" or "How are you?", and people will be perfectly happy with that

Mangetout
04-09-2008, 09:59 AM
The key thing is that you're not actually being asked if you're alright at all (so 'fine thanks' might be out of place).

Any general greeting should be fine - if you're not comfortable responding with 'alright', you could just say 'hi', 'hiya', 'how ya doin?', or some such.

jjimm
04-09-2008, 10:02 AM
In Ireland the commonest response would be "Alright?" or "How's it going?"

The most you'd go with actually answering the question would be something like "No too bad" or the like. As Usarm says it's not a real request, it's an expression which can be replaced with "Hello"When I first moved to Ireland, I used to respond to "How's it going?" with a summary of how it was actually going: "well I'm a bit skint at the moment and I've had a cold". This was met with shocked embarrassement on the part of the requestor. In the end I learned that the correct answer is either "not too bad" or "never better".

However in England, to "awright", the correct response here is to respond in kind, accompanied by a curt, but friendly nod. It's a "hello" for people who either don't know each other, or know each other only vaguely, or are in a hurry.

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
04-09-2008, 10:03 AM
Two British acquaintances passing in a corridor:

Person A: "Alright?"
Person B: "Yeah, I'm alright."
Person A: "Alright."
Person B: "Alright, see you!"
Person A: "Alright."

Celyn
04-09-2008, 11:06 AM
When I first moved to Ireland, I used to respond to "How's it going?" with a summary of how it was actually going: "well I'm a bit skint at the moment and I've had a cold". This was met with shocked embarrassement on the part of the requestor. .......


Oh you must be exaggerating for amusement's sake. :D Surely you were not accustomed to explaining how things were *actually* going in response to "how do you do", or "hello, how are you?". Trouble is, I sometimes forget whether Jjimm is English or U.S. in origin, (sorry) so it's just possible that the other ones I mentioned left you confused too.

Hey, aren't we supposed to say "mustn't grumble", anyway? :D (Note, but in fact one must grumble, usually about the 'bus, the train, or OF COURSE, the weather.) That means you can really mess with people's head on the random day you choose to give a cheery "Great, thanks, lovely weather today, eh?" :)

Sandra-NZ, honestly, any vague "Hello there" or "hi there" will do.



I *sometimes* think, hoping not to tempt fate here, that if I were to have to lose any one thing, speech would be the least bad option. I would avoid much awkwardness by merely grinning and waving a little printed card or written note, saying "not able to speak, good morning, afternoon, evening, delete as applicable, and I trust you are well".

Ach hell, on second thoughts, that might only add to the confusion with a lot of people in my locality, many being from overseas for one reason or another - that is, the people here to do postgraduate study might be fine with that, but a refugee with extremely limited English might be a bit freaked by being expected to read English for no reason. I reckon for the traditional awkward in the lift (elevator) scenario or doing the "after you through the door" dance, I had best just stick to the vague nod and "hello".

sandra_nz
04-09-2008, 11:11 AM
Cool, I think going forward I shall respond with 'Heya' which is my standard corridor greeting. Thanks all for responses!

Zeldar
04-09-2008, 11:13 AM
I forget where and when I heard the recommended way for being ultra-cool and noncommittal in such situations, especially if you don't want to be perceived as wanting any further discussion(s), but I was advised to give a barely perceptible nod of the head and utter almost under the breath, "Yo."

If you wear a hat or cap, touching the brim with a finger saves breath.

Celyn
04-09-2008, 11:17 AM
On reflection, Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party probably has it spot on.

(Mere idiom of course: actual spots are not required and might tend you suggest that your health was less than all right) :D

chowder
04-09-2008, 11:29 AM
Okely Dokely neighbour

Defensive Indifference
04-09-2008, 11:42 AM
The first time I heard someone greet me this way, I furrowed my brow and responded, "Yeah, why?" I figured someone had told this person that I wasn't alright and he was checking up to make sure I had calmed down/cheered up/stopped vomiting. I never did get the hang of responding to "Alright?".

glee
04-09-2008, 12:20 PM
I've lived here 54 years and have heard the following greetings, usually as people go past me:

- hello
- hi
- how are you?
- good day
- morning
- lovely weather, isn't it?
- all right?
- wotcha mate
- yo dude
- how's it hanging?
- are you the owner of this car, Sir?*

In all cases a smile and hi (or fine, thanks) go down well.
The important thing is the polite acknowledgement.
A nod helps as well.

*actually that one may be different...

AskNott
04-09-2008, 12:29 PM
Does anybody really ask, "How's yer mum?" as the Geico gecko does?

Butterscotch
04-09-2008, 12:30 PM
You can reply with an " 'right" or "aw-right" as others have said. Just try and avoid the temptation of saying,"No, I'm half left." :)

tdn
04-09-2008, 12:43 PM
I'm confused. I thought the standard proper British greeting was "Yo yo yo, wassup, homes?"

cowgirl
04-09-2008, 12:47 PM
The "Are you alright?" as a greeting threw me off when I first went to England, because in Canada when someone says that to you, it's because they have a reason to believe you are not alright (e.g "Oh my, you've fallen down a manhole! Are you alright?" or "I just found out about your car accident, are you alright?") So in the beginning when I heard it I would get worried and check myself for blood.

But then I got the hang of it, it's a much quicker conversation than you get with the other ones. Witness:

You: Are you alright?
Me: Alright!

vs

You: Hey, how's it going?
Me: Great, thanks, and you?
You: Fine, thanks

It's a much quicker conversation. In fact, I got so hooked on it that I still say it regularly (and people respond with predictable confusion). In fact I said it to a guy only yesterday (even tho I haven't been in the UK in years). He said "How's it going?" and I said "Alright" because I didn't have time to say more. And then I got worried because I realized that I was supposed to ask him how HE was, and I didn't. In general the "how's it going?" model is slightly more onerous.

Maybe I spend too much time worrying about these things.

tdn
04-09-2008, 01:01 PM
A guy I used to work with would always ask "How's it hangin'?" I would answer with a hand gesture indicating a point about ten inches below my crotch.

Martha Medea
04-09-2008, 01:05 PM
The correct response is "lovely jubbly". :D

manx
04-09-2008, 01:09 PM
I've recently started a new job and the people here have a tendency to greet me in the hallway with "Alright?".

I'm not sure how I'm supposed to respond. I tend to say "Good thanks, and you?" which sounds naff. Am I just supposed to say "Alright?" in return?

Respond in fine Kiwi form! 'Aww yea, nah, not bad' is how I used to respond. Six months over here and I still can't say 'alright' as a geeting without feeling like a bit of a poser. I say 'fit' and 'pikey' now, so I guess 'alright' will follow.

eleanorigby
04-09-2008, 01:22 PM
I've been known to pass by pts in the hall and ask them, "you ok?" and just keep walking by as they are clearly up and walking so they must be ok, which I think may be the Midwest equivalent to UK'd "all right?" I have heard "all right then?" more often--maybe they're just leaving off the "then"? Although, come to think of it, the "all right, then?" seems to come after something has happened--the waitress got you a clean spoon or someone helped you pick up a dropped newpaper.....


Seems to me that all right serves the same purpose of greeting as "how are you?". In neither case does the person truly want to know how you are.

When is it appropriate to say "cheery bye"? I know it's a farewell, but I can't figure out when it's used.

TroubleAgain
04-09-2008, 02:52 PM
Can I borrow this thread for another UK question? I went to a conference and one of the vendors in the exposition is from the UK. They gave me this lovely little desk-sign with different amusing phrases bound together with wire. You know, like "Hung Over, Please Speak Quietly" and "Available To Go To The Pub" and "What Did Your Last Servant Die Of?"

Well, one of them says "On Your Bike." WTF? What does that mean? :confused:

Ximenean
04-09-2008, 02:53 PM
When is it appropriate to say "cheery bye"?
When your feeling slightly twee and wish to be punched in the face?

It's not very common at all and sounds like a variation on "cheerio", which is getting old-fashioned now.

[ETA] "On your bike" means "please leave immediately", "hop it" etc. That is "(get) on your bike (and piss off somewhere else)."

Ximenean
04-09-2008, 02:59 PM
YOU'RE!!

:smack:

JR Brown
04-09-2008, 03:06 PM
Okely Dokely neighbour
Ahem. Okely Dokely neighborino. Amateur


It's not very common at all and sounds like a variation on "cheerio", which is getting old-fashioned now.
Really? Only just now? :D

JRB
Unless you aren't quoting Ned Flanders?

MJinks
04-09-2008, 03:12 PM
I'll usually just nod my head in reply. You're just acknowledging each others presence out of politeness, you don't really care how they are.

It feels awkward to walk past someone, while making eye contact, and not saying/doing anything.

Elendil's Heir
04-09-2008, 03:16 PM
Ahem. Okely Dokely neighborino. Amateur....


Dammit, I was just going to say that!

TroubleAgain
04-09-2008, 03:38 PM
[ETA] "On your bike" means "please leave immediately", "hop it" etc. That is "(get) on your bike (and piss off somewhere else)."

Ah. Thanks. Well that one's wasted here, because no one would have any idea what I meant if I had that sign up.

So today I have the one that says "No Geeks Permitted" with a (hand-drawn) big red X across "No." I mean, jeez, I work in IT. If geeks weren't permitted, I'd be very lonely in my office. :p (Hell, I'd probably not be permitted in my own office!)

Elendil's Heir
04-09-2008, 04:13 PM
...So today I have the one that says "No Geeks Permitted" with a (hand-drawn) big red X across "No." ....

That seems like a double negative to me, meaning that geeks are permitted. Was that what you meant?

si_blakely
04-09-2008, 04:15 PM
You can reply with an " 'right" or "aw-right" as others have said. Just try and avoid the temptation of saying,"No, I'm half left." :)You spoil all my fun - I do this all the time. But then, I'm a kiwi, so it's allowed.

Si

chowder
04-10-2008, 01:36 AM
A guy I used to work with would always ask "How's it hangin'?" I would answer with a hand gesture indicating a point about ten inches below my crotch.
The correct response is "Long and danglin'

si_blakely
04-10-2008, 02:16 AM
A guy I used to work with would always ask "How's it hangin'?" I would answer with a hand gesture indicating a point about ten inches below my crotch.The correct response is "Long and danglin'"Duct-taped to my thigh to protect my trousers" ;)

Si

manx
04-10-2008, 02:19 AM
You spoil all my fun - I do this all the time. But then, I'm a kiwi, so it's allowed.



How many UK-based Kiwis are there on the Dope? Do we outnumber those we left behind?

GuanoLad
04-10-2008, 02:25 AM
The correct response is: "It's spelled 'All Right' and not 'alright', which is not a word."

Pushkin
04-10-2008, 03:42 AM
If someone says it to me as we're walking past each other in the street, with no time to stop and chat, I reply with an "All right".

If we're able to stop and chat, I reply with "Not bad, how're things?" which leaves the other person the option of opening up the conversation or passing.

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
04-10-2008, 03:47 AM
The correct response is: "It's spelled 'All Right' and not 'alright', which is not a word."

IME, when a Brit says "alright", they don't pronounce the "al" as "all", rather, it's the same sound as "al" in "always", a much shorter sound.

"All right" and "alright" are two different pronunciations, even if some pedants refuse to accept that "alright" is a word, despite it resolving some ambiguity, falling in line with a general pattern in English, and being a perfectly natural spelling for a large number of people (c.f. this thread).

Cluricaun
04-10-2008, 06:52 AM
I've recently started a new job and the people here have a tendency to greet me in the hallway with "Alright?".

I'm not sure how I'm supposed to respond. I tend to say "Good thanks, and you?" which sounds naff. Am I just supposed to say "Alright?" in return?

Next time someone asks, say in your best Joe Cocker voice "I'm not feeling to good myself....."

Sal Ammoniac
04-10-2008, 08:14 AM
This sounds like the perfect occasion to respond with "howdy." And then doff your ten-gallon hat.

Staggerlee
04-10-2008, 10:01 AM
YOU'RE!!

:smack:No need for the self-harming emoticon - on 'your' bike seems correct...

chowder
04-10-2008, 10:04 AM
[QUOTE=Usram]When your feeling slightly twee

I think he meant this

Really Not All That Bright
04-10-2008, 10:11 AM
Correct response is Ave.

Just kidding.

Butterscotch
04-11-2008, 12:15 PM
The correct response is "Long and danglin'

I was led to believe the correct response is "Twelve o'clock"...

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.