Why do we say “Pronto” to answer the phone?

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Have you ever wondered where the habit of saying “Pronto=Ready?” comes from when we answer the phone?

It is an expression that we only use in Italy.

In English, we answer “hello?”, As in German, we say “hallo?”, In French “hallô?” And in Spanish “¿Diga?”.

The answer is not easy since there is no definite information, but various hypotheses have been formulated on the issue.

The most accredited is that this use goes back to the early days when the telephone became part of everyday life when the switchboards were still intermediaries in telephone communication.

In the past, since there are still no direct lines, to be able to call someone you first had to ask the switchboard to be put in communication with the interlocutor. And it is for this reason that the term “Pronto=Ready?” Is thought to have arisen: the receptionist asked the person being contacted if she/he was ready to receive the call.

The explanation is entirely plausible, but I fear that the reason why we Italians are the only ones who still respond so will always remain a mystery.