What Comes After "Hello"?

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A map of the United States.

Do you say, "Where are you from?" or "Where do you live?" or "What's your church?" Deborah Fallows, correspondent for The Atlantic, talks about the regional differences in the greetings we give, and what they say about us.


We asked listeners: What conversational clues do you use to find out useful information about people you’ve just met? What do WNYC listeners ask a new acquaintance right after they say hello?

A Sampling of Those Second Questions 

Staten Island
Suggested by John
“Where’d your parents come from?”

Suggested by Leanne
“Are you from New York originally?”

Suggested by John
“What do you use, Mac or PC?”
John is a software programmer, and says that’s a trick question – you’re supposed to respond Linux!

San Diego
Suggested by Alba
“What do you do?”
This refers to your hobbies, not your profession.

And our own Anna Sale, who is from West Virginia, said the question for any outsider encountered in her home state was always a perplexed “why are you here?”