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Are the closing greetings "see you later", "talk to you later", and the like sufficient to end a conversation (especially a phone conversation) or must they be succeeded by "bye" or another word of definite finality?

In other words, is it redundant to append "bye" to "speak to you later" or a similar wish?

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9 Answers 9

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think it definitely has a use in some cases. The use is to get the person on the other end of the line to actually stop talking so you can end the call. Usually one starts signalling a desire to end the conversation by abandoning substantive answers in favor of simple affirmatives, transitioning at last to repeated versions of good-bye. Here's how such a dialogue sounds from that side of the conversation:

Yeah, that's a great idea, I'll take a look ... yeah ... uh-huh ... I'll have a look ... uh-huh ... yeah ... yeah ... uh .... uh, OK ... OK ... OK, talk to you later ... bye .... bye-bye. [Hangs up]

I made up my own term to describe this kind of dragged-out phone-call-ending: conversational dieseling (from dieseling as used in automobile parlance).

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+1 for dieseling –  ukayer Feb 9 '11 at 4:25
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It's not dieseling, it's just the phone equivalent of küszöbgörcs "threshold-spasm": the phenomenon where your spouse's or parent's knees totally lock up as they get closer to the threshold, resulting in long conversations, mostly consisting of "ok, we really have to go now", conducted in the entryway. In particularly bad cases, the doorway-spasm will last longer than the preceding visit. –  Marthaª Jun 14 '11 at 22:09

In conversation, what is heartfelt is never redundant. But what is said out of habit and often repeated each time can be redundant. "See you later"/"talk to you later", if used to inform and supply some yet unknown intention, is not redundant. But "talk to you later" used to inform one's purposeful intention to call someone back that evening, is necessary information and therefore not redundant.

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What about 'bye'? Adding that in is what the OP is about. –  Mitch Aug 10 '13 at 16:45
    
Referring to my above response, the additional use of the word 'bye' is not required if used in an informal situation of a meeting between 2 friends who know each other and who relate casually to each other. During such an instance, it can already be assumed that there is no intended sophomoric attitude or disrespect with the lack of a concluding 'bye'. But in situations of a formal nature such as when the person spoken to is not well known, it could be deemed inappropriate and even crass to be spoken to in this manner. –  Julie Aug 11 '13 at 9:57

In the good bye see you later how about this for an answer'...... Good bye'meaning exactly that,,,, good bye......for. now. See you later..meaning exactly that... I will see you later.....meaning I will see you in a few hours,a few minutes,in a few days ,,, in a short period of time. And the ones having the conversation USUALLY know what is being said ,,,We understand every word:-)

l

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could you format this so it's readable? I don't have a clue what you're trying to say. –  Matt Эллен Aug 10 '13 at 14:55

Since 'bye' is a shortened version of 'good bye', which is derived from Middle English 'godbwye', meaning "God be with ye", it is not out of line to say "See you later, bye", litterally "See you later, God be with you."

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See you later is informally used when parting from somebody. Saying both see you later, and bye seems a little redundant; I would expect bye to be the reply to see you later.

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"See you later" and "bye" may be redundant in meaning; however, they have some meaning if you examine the different levels of discourse in a conversation.

Here are two discourse-level observations. First, the sentences in conversations tend to get shorter to signal its end. (For example, think of a couple having a conversation in which one party answers in monosyllables. He may be indicating that he wants the conversation to end.)

Second, there are no gestures or body language over the telephone. The parties are signaling their mutual desire to end the conversation without recourse to the gestures of shifting weight, pointing feet toward the door, closing a notebook, or getting up.

"OK, talk to you next week."

"OK, See you."

"See you."

"Bye."

Hope that helps. Bye.

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You can definitely say "see you later" or "talk to you later" as the final utterance before ending your conversation. You can add "bye" afterwards if you choose — it wouldn't sound strange, but it is not needed.

The other person may respond with "bye" (but could also say other things like "see you"), but it is not necessary for you to then say "bye" in return if you have already said "see you later" (although there is nothing wrong with it).

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I think WAF was asking about the same person saying both "see you later" and "bye". –  ShreevatsaR Feb 7 '11 at 16:39
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@Shreevatsa: Sorry if it wasn't clear. I was talking about that as well. –  Kosmonaut Feb 7 '11 at 18:18

It is redundant from an information standpoint as you communicated your desire to hang up. With that being said, however, phone conversations can have tricky social protocols that vary from place to place. Many people treat a mutual bye (or goodbye) as a necessary step to end a conversation politely. (Think of it as an informal, though widespread, voice procedure.)

Usually it manifests something like the following:

A: Ok, I'll talk to you later.

B: Alright, bye.

A: Bye

Mutual Hangup.

In some locales, its common on calls to friends/family to make up an excuse for why you need to end the conversation, even if its obvious to both parties that you've just run out of things to say. Presumably, this is due to wanting to be especially polite and indicate that you find the person so delightful that you'd love to just keep chatting away if it wasn't for that darn cat that needed to be let out or dishes that needed to be washed, etc.

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Heh, in computer networking terms this is referred to as a three-way handshake - inetdaemon.com/tutorials/internet/tcp/3-way_handshake.shtml –  Scott Mitchell Feb 9 '11 at 4:19

Yes it's redundant, and yes it's annoying, but my mother (sorry Mum) does it all the time.

I speculate it came about as a way of softening potential awkwardness when terminating a phone conversation.

So, rather than simply hang up, my mother (for instance) repeats (more than once) the word "bye" in a decreasing volume and tone, thus blurring the end of the exchange, until one or both hang up.

That, or its a nervous tic.

Oh, and also see this.

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+1 one for the answer. It's harmless but redundant IMHO, and is to do with awkwardness as you say. Would give you another +1 for XKCD if I could. –  CJM Feb 7 '11 at 16:45
    
So many people do this, pretty much everyone I know. My great aunt starts saying "Goodbye then", a good five minutes before the conversation ends, you get a few, then a bit more chat, then lots more, then a short closing address, then tons, eventually the conversation ends. –  Orbling Feb 9 '11 at 0:58
    
@CJM I'm with you! –  WAF Aug 9 '13 at 14:04

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