In Uzbekistan, like in many other countries, a tradition of greetings plays an important role in the Uzbek culture. When you meet somebody in Uzbekistan, you should greet each other even if you may not necessarily know the person. People usually say “Assalomu alaykum” when starting a conversation, which means “may peace be upon you” in Arabic. The other person usually responds with “Valaykum assalom,” which is translated from Arabic as “may peace be upon you too.” This way of greeting is appropriate to use at any time of the day. Also, it is always right to use “Assalomu alaykum” for both greeting and response if you are unsure of the person’s age you are greeting.
The following is an example of greeting between an older and a younger person:
Assalomu alaykum -> Hello! (Younger to older)
Valaykum assalom -> Hello! (Older to younger)
In Uzbek culture, it is also expected to ask about someone’s well-being, family and work when greeting someone. Here are different ways to ask how someone is doing.
How are you? (Lit: are you well?)
How is your health?
Are you healthy?
Is your family well?
Bolalar yaxshi yurishibdimi?
Are the children doing well?
Good, thank you.
Yomon emas, yaxshi. Rahmat!
Not bad, thank you!
Thank you, and you?
Thanks. Doing well.
Rahmat! O’zingiz yaxshimisiz?
Thank you! How are you?
Men generally shake hands with other men even without being introduced to each other. It is also customary to put one’s left hand over their heart when shaking hands as a sign of respect. Men and women shake hands only when being introduced to each other.
Other ways of greetings:
Women generally kiss each other on the cheeks when greeting and/or touch each other on the shoulders. Young people usually just say “Salom!” “Qandaysiz/Qalaysiz?” “Yaxshimisiz?” when greeting each other. Close friends and relatives usually kiss on each cheek and give a light hug when greeting each other.
Xayrlashuv – Farewells:
In Uzbek culture, people generally send their well wishes when saying goodbye. Here are some examples of saying goodbye in Uzbek.
Bye-bye (lit: be healthy)
Keep in touch
Practice your knowledge:
I. Write greetings for the following situations:
- You meet your elderly neighbor, greet her:
- Your professor asks you if you are well, how do you respond:
- You see a friend; greet him:
- As you are leaving the classroom after the Uzbek class, say goodbye to the other students and the instructor:
II. Look at the picture. How would you greet these people? Think of different scenarios and write proper greetings.
- Azimova (2010), Uzbek The Elementary Textbook. Georgetown University Press.