Often used in my family growing up and now with my friends and extended family, this phrase always puts a smile on my face. I know, crazy, but it’s the little things…
Today I looked it up because as kids we said it playing Cowboys and Indians and before anyone tries to correct my PC, I know you may not like to hear it but we were not brought up racist or rude. We grew up with the concept because our father grew up in the west with great respect for Native Americans.
Here are a couple of interesting articles about the phrase from http://www.npr.org. I prefer the second one, how cool is that one? I love words and phrases and their origins.
“The first time “long time, no see” appeared in print was in the 1900 Western “Thirty-One Years on the Plains and in the Mountains, Or, the Last Voice from the Plains An Authentic Record of a Life Time of Hunting, Trapping, Scouting and Indian Fighting in the Far West, by William F. Drannan. That last part of the novel’s very long title is relevant here, as it gives a good indication of the kind of story Drannan wanted to tell.”
“The second widely accepted etymological explanation is that the phrase is a loan translation* from the Mandarin Chinese phrase “hǎojǐu bújiàn”, which means exactly “long time, no see.””