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Have you ever thought about answering the telephone using a word other than "hello"?

Unlike English speaking people, Italians, in my opinion, have a very unusual way of answering the telephone by using the word "pronto." Pronto, meaning "ready," as in they are ready to speak or "quick" in English is an odd way to answer a telephone call.

Since moving to Italy, I have tried to figure out why the word "ready" is the Italian version of "hello" when answering the telephone, but I truly don't think that there is a logic behind it. Other than the fact that it is like asking the question, "are you ready to talk?" or "can you talk?"

Then, after the silence, the person on the other end of the telephone responds by either saying pronto back and starting to talk or they just begin talking.

For example:

A: "Pronto? Chi parla?" (Ready? Who's speaking?)

B: "Pronto, buongiorno sono..." (Ready, good morning I am)

The second person doesn't necessarily need to say pronto, but it isn't uncommon.

By now, I am used to hearing people answer the telephone by saying "pronto" but still, to this day, when I am not actually paying attention and hear someone answer the phone in this fashion, I find myself smiling as I hear the word "ready!!" being said in my head.

I have also found that when I answer the phone by saying "Ciao" (hello) or "Buongiorno" (good morning) it is almost like I take the other person off guard as they repeat "pronto" into the telephone.

Next time you find yourself in Italy, or near an Italian speaking person try and listen for the "pronto." I guarantee that it will bring a smile to your face knowing that they are answering the telephone by saying "ready!"