Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How's tricks?

Lately, when I say this (usually over IM) to folks, I'm met with confusion or bemusement. I was beginning to think that this is another one of my quaint regionalisms. But apparently it's just a bit rare and archaic:
From the "Hello, Howdy, Hi" section of Listening to America by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982): "Hello, Howdy, Hi, or words to that effect are used by most of us several times a day.Surprisingly enough, 'hello' didn't become a truly common greeting until the mid 1860s. It comes from 'holla!,' 'stop!' (French 'ho! + la, there), used to attract attention, hail a coach, ferry, etc. 'Hi' is just a variant of 'hey!'; it had been used as a shout to attract attention for over 500 years before we began using it as a greeting in the 1880s. 'What's up?' dates from the 1880s, too.'What do you know?' 'What do you say?' ('whata-ya know,' whata-ya say') and 'How's tricks?' date from the mid 1920s."

1 comment:

Lee said...

Alexander Graham Bell originally intended for people to say "Ahoy!" when they answered the phone.