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Old 03-25-2011, 06:03 PM
 
2,668 posts, read 4,163,763 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phrekyos View Post
These words are so overused in the south that they're basically meaningless. It just sounds very "fake" or insincere to me when people use them.
I agree. One of my older relatives from the south expressed disagreement that I was not instilling this in my children. Three of the now-adult children in her family ended up dropping out of high school because of drug use. But they still call her "ma'am" .
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Old 03-25-2011, 06:07 PM
Status: "I hate the holidays." (set 5 days ago)
 
Location: Arlington, Virginia
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I've always used sir or ma'am and I'm 22. If you don't like it tough. I grew up around military folks and respect for elders until they do something to lose it is something you learn after years around veterans.
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Old 03-25-2011, 06:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by michgc View Post
Another related question is what do you have your children call your friends? Is it Bob and Sue? Mr. Bob and Mrs. Sue? Mr. Smith and Mrs. Smith? That seems to be regional, too. My whole family are New Yorkers and all my parents' friends were "Carol and Tom; Rita and David, etc." When our family moved to Pennsylvania it was totally different - everyone was "Mr. and Mrs. Levy; Mr. and Mrs. Karp, etc." It wasn't until I became an adult that I was allowed to call them by their first name, and it was difficult to switch. I still call all of my parents' New York friends by their first names and our PA friends by their last names. We also didn't use top sheets (a New York thing?), which I'm sure would appal our Southern friends, but that's another story for a different day. ;-)
My parents and my parents' friends always always went by first names. And my school had a first-name basis too. It took me until college to realize that most of the world functions by titles in relation to children, lol. And I also had to get used to the idea of using a title for teachers and professors. It still feels weird to me. On one hand I wish I had grown up with it so that it wouldn't feel so unnatural for me to say "Professor XYZ" but on the other hand, I'm glad I grew up in a community where walls weren't put up with titles because it helped me feel more loved and supported by the adults in my life. (Not to say that titles mean adults in a child's life are less than loving and supporting, but I do think that's the effect it would have had on me personally.)

I'm still pretty young myself (21) but I imagine I will just ask kids to call me Nim cause that's what I did growing up and it would just feel very weird (not old but weird) to be called Ms. Chimpsky. Even Ms. Nim sounds weird to me. If a friend of mine really really wanted to instill the Ms./Mr. thing with their kids though, I'd let their kids call me that, but it would probably still catch me off-guard every time, and it would take me a while to even hear my name being called. I've never been called Ms. Chimpsky except in impersonal letters from the government and the like. Lol.

For people who do go by the Mr./Ms. thing or the sir/ma'am thing, or both, how many years is enough of an age gap to require a title or sir/ma'am, all other factors equal? In other words, I'm not talking about your boss or a customer, but at a party or in a social situation, or someone you see regularly. If the only thing that makes you socially "not equal" is age, how much of an age difference must there be?

Last edited by nimchimpsky; 03-25-2011 at 06:52 PM..
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Fairfax Mom View Post

Also - another pet peeve - kids who call their parents by their first names - LOL
LOL - Our now 2 1/2 year old used to do that when my husband came home from work. It lasted about 6 weeks. I thought he was going to pull his hair out! Instead it turned a little more gray.
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:14 PM
 
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Speaking of regional differences, I'm from the west coast (not born there, but raised there). My dad was in the military growing up and as children we ALWAYS greeted adults with Mr/Mrs and answered mom and dad with yes ma'm, no ma'm, yes sir, no sir. BUT, we seemed to be the ONLY children that did that. It was kind of embarrassing sometimes. Since moving here, I've found that many of our friends and neighbors prefer Miss/Mr ____ over Mr. and Mrs. Last Name. I always ask moms and dads of new friends what they prefer to be called and promptly advise my children of how to greet them. It's worked perfectly well for our children to do a little of both. I also agree with previous posters that tone and body language are HUGE. I work on that daily with children and the students in my classroom. I think the PP asked a great question and more importantly I commend them for even thinking this through!
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:18 PM
 
Location: the South
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Um seriously? Are you really debating this? LOL. Come on...your parents raised you to say that for a reason. I don't care if it 'makes somebody feel old.' It's called MANNERS. And all this ' Im___ years old, I still feel young so...' Yes, you may be young...but to 5 -10 year old, you're old. You're a lot older than them, therefore they should show respect and say yes sir & yes ma'm. Teenagers as well. I had a teacher in HS that would not respond to you unless you said Yes/No/Thank you ma'm. Unless you're talking to one of your friends, you should be using your manners.
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:23 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikkayx333 View Post
Um seriously? Are you really debating this? LOL. Come on...your parents raised you to say that for a reason. I don't care if it 'makes somebody feel old.' It's called MANNERS. And all this ' Im___ years old, I still feel young so...' Yes, you may be young...but to 5 -10 year old, you're old. You're a lot older than them, therefore they should show respect and say yes sir & yes ma'm. Teenagers as well. I had a teacher in HS that would not respond to you unless you said Yes/No/Thank you ma'm. Unless you're talking to one of your friends, you should be using your manners.
Isn't proper manners calling the adult what they wish to be called? That shows a lot more respect in my opinion than a blanket sir/ma'am to everyone, regardless of preference. I don't see how it's polite to insist on calling me something I don't like.
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikkayx333
Um seriously? Are you really debating this? LOL. Come on...your parents raised you to say that for a reason. I don't care if it 'makes somebody feel old.' It's called MANNERS. And all this ' Im___ years old, I still feel young so...' Yes, you may be young...but to 5 -10 year old, you're old. You're a lot older than them, therefore they should show respect and say yes sir & yes ma'm. Teenagers as well. I had a teacher in HS that would not respond to you unless you said Yes/No/Thank you ma'm. Unless you're talking to one of your friends, you should be using your manners.
Sir and ma'am don't even exist in some languages but they have other ways of showing respect. I was deaf for two years and had to pick up American Sign Language and there's no word for sir or ma'am in ASL but there are other ways of expressing formality and politeness. ASL interpreters often have to add name tags or sirs and ma'ams and other verbal tags like "Could you..." that aren't really used ASL. Instead ASL tends to use body language. Does that mean that all Deaf Americans have no concept of manners? No. It just means that sometimes the way people show manners and respect varies a bit. Sir and ma'am aren't the only way to be respectful.

I don't use sir/ma'am very much because I just don't sound respectful when I say them. I sound like a Yankee. But when I was in the South, I would take advantage of the fact the interpreter could sound respectful saying them so I would finger spell yes ma'am or yes sir if that's what I wanted to say and let it roll naturally off the interpreter's tongue. But see, in order to do that, I had to realize it doesn't mean submission or disrespect (which are pretty much the two ways they get used in the North) in the South. I had to adjust my understanding of what people call manners and respect in the South, which includes using sir/ma'am. Being able to adjust your language for your audience is a useful skill. Dropping the sir/ma'am thing in the North would be equally wise because many people would either assume it was said sarcastically or would assume it was a jab at their age.
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikkayx333 View Post
You're a lot older than them, therefore they should show respect and say yes sir & yes ma'm. Teenagers as well. I had a teacher in HS that would not respond to you unless you said Yes/No/Thank you ma'm. Unless you're talking to one of your friends, you should be using your manners.
Except that to many, perhaps most, people, sir and ma'am aren't considered essential manners. Using them may indicate nothing more than a habit ingrained in the person when they were a child. I don't object to someone saying them, but I don't expect them to, and I certainly don't judge a person's manners or character based upon whether they use the words sir or ma'am. I do use them sometimes when addressing older adults, but mainly it's when I don't know their names and it's more polite than saying "Hey you ..." .
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nimchimpsky View Post
Dropping the sir/ma'am thing in the North would be equally wise because many people would either assume it was said sarcastically or would assume it was a jab at their age.
Several posters have brought up similar points but don't seem to realize that this implies that being older is less desirable than being younger.

Miss Manners has written some good columns (also in her books) on the use of titles, so I would recommend to anyone who doesn't understand why this is a manners or etiquette issue should look those up on the web or in the library.

It certainly would not be wise to assume that strangers or even people with whom one has some working relationship prefer the familiarity of first names, to being addressed as "Mr." or "Ms." Jones. Respect and status are of as much importance as "friendliness" particularly in the workplace, to many people. I think most people who have a meeting with a CEO or with President Obama wouldn't even think of addressing him/her by the first name; it's the same principle with people of other status--better to assume some distance unless it is someone you know prefers that you call him/her by a first name. People can always invite others to "please, call me Tom/Mary."
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