Something I've noticed about those Americans I get the pleasure of talking to OTP

(OTP On The Phone)

It’s this… If someone says ‘bye’ to you, some of you seem to start your returned by with an ‘m’. It almost sounds like you’re saying ‘mbye’. It’s uncanny how many different Americans I speak to do this. Any explanation?

I’ve been told that ending a casual phone conversation with ‘bye’ is fairly less common in America than it is in England… so maybe these Americans are doing the American version of “er…bye”. In other words “er…[that was unexpected… what to do? Say bye myself I suppose… bit formal… but this is a brit I’m talking to… maybe it’s their custom] bye”

Actually, I’d guess it’s because we actually say “goodbye” but kind of mumfle the first part and palatalize the “d” in “good”, so it sounds like “gmbye”.

Or, as Professor Higgins put it,

“There are even places where English completely disappears.
Why, in America, they haven’t used it for years!”

I dunno, you might have a point. As my English SO did take me to task at one point for not saying formal goodbyes at the end of phone conversation. Something I was not aware I was doing. Had you asked me I would have said yes, a phone call ends with a goodbye. But it seems I had been hanging up on him when it seemed to me the conversation was over…without the formal ending.

Like I said, I was not aware I was doing it (that is, cutting off before we had both come to a mutual conclusion) but apparently I was. So…could be anectodal evidence (maybe I’m just rude, even for an American) or maybe you’re on to something.

Or maybe Americans have just watched too maybe movies, where for some reason no one EVER says goodbye.

If it helps… I often end phone conversations with a ‘bye’ and then wonder, afterwards if the train of conversation had naturally finished before I put the reciever down. Did I just end a conversation midway through?

You’re speaking to a certain subset of people who say “mbye”? Rather disconcertingly, one American I have to speak to on the phone on occasion always says “ciao”.

Maybe it’s a mumbled abbreviation for “Bye-bye”?

I have noticed that when I say, “damn,” it often comes out as “ndamn.”

Okay, I’m glad I live alone because I’m been experimenting with how this would sound in various ways for the last couple minutes. And I think I might do this. Now that I’m doing it on purpose, of course it sounds weird, but as I repeatedly make strange noises, I’ve realized that if you start to make a sound before you purse your lips to make the “b” sound, it will come out as an “m” sound. Hence, “mbye”. I’ll have to pay attention to this, but I think that sounds fairly normal as a casual sign off.

I think Kyla hit it on the nose. I’ve known people who’ve consistently said ‘mbye’ but I’m pretty sure its not because they were contracting from ‘goodbye.’ I’ve even heard this strange sound come out of my mouth before (always followed by the thought," Wtf? Did I just say mbye?") I think the vocalization beats the mouth by a fraction of a second.

My s.o. has the irritating habit of saying “roon” for ruin then denying it emphatically. Also a very strange way of saying “both.” Sometimes it comes out with this crazy way-high-in-the-back-of-the-throat o sound that almost has an r in it.

My friends and I do the mbye thing, although I haven’t a clue why. My son noticed it a few years ago and asked, and I had no answer for him either. We spent the next few weeks listening to friends and family end phone conversations and checking for the mystery mmm sound and nearly all the women do it, but not the men.

If you think that “mbye” is funny, you should pay more attention to how a lot of Yanks answer the phone:

“nnyhello” or “yyhello” (The initial sound is different among different speakers, but it is always drawn out, slightly, and the accent (with a rising pitch), occurs on the “el” syllable.)

I have no explanation for either pratice, but I am aware that a lot of folks do both. (I may do the “mbye” bit; I don’t listen to myself. I don’t say “nnyhello,” but that is mostly because I got in the habit of starting out with “good morning/afternoon/evening” at a job I once had and have just continued the practice at home. In a work environment where I expect most calls to be directed to me, often from strangers who have been referred to me, I answer by simply saying my name.) My Mom used both “mbye” and “yyhello,” but I don’t recall any of my sibs doing so.

I don’t say ‘bye’ at the end of a phone conversation; usually I say “I’ll see you later.”

But now that I think about it, it probably comes out as “Mi’ll see you later.”


I’m a “Yank” living in Ireland and I think I do the mbye thing too. You should hear how Irish people end phone conversations, it’s hysterical. They say: “bye,bye,byebyebye,bye,bye”. It’s really weird, they all do it.