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  1. What are more formal ways to say "How are you" with a hint of positive expectation, in the sense that you want the other person to confirm that his/her life is just fine. Does "Are you well?" work?

  2. During new year season people greet "Happy New Year" etc. What would you say if you want to wish the other person's celebration of the new year be enjoyable and nice, instead of wishing good things for the entire year that is coming?

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These would be best split off into two separate questions. –  Shaun Feb 3 '11 at 3:40
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1 Answer 1

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  1. Usually, you imply the hint of positive expectation with your voice inflection. Asking "How are you?" in such a way that your voice sounds happy implies such a meaning. If you want a more direct statement, you could say "I trust things are going well for you?"
  2. "Happy New Year" is used interchangeably to:
    • Wish good things for the person in the coming year
    • Wish for an enjoyable celebration for the changing of the year.
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Thanks a lot! For 1, could you please give another example that is more formal? Imagine you are in 15-th century and talking to a king or something. –  timur Feb 3 '11 at 3:54
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@timur: The traditional neutral greeting is "how do you do". It is pronounced as a statement, not as a question with a tone that goes up towards the end. No other reply is expected but "how do you do" back. –  Cerberus Feb 3 '11 at 4:08
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@Cerberus: I imagine that @timur is not asking what the traditional neutral greeting is, but asking what greeting does convey the sense of "I trust that everything is well". (To which the answer would be "Yes, thank you", not "Fine, thank you.") Many cultures have such a greeting; presumably English has had a standard phrase for the idea at some point as well. –  ShreevatsaR Feb 3 '11 at 5:49
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