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Old 01-21-2013, 10:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IceKold1080P View Post
It's called "Southern Hospitality!" People just respect people and mam/sir is just a general addressing.
It isn't always respect. Some times it's pretend like all southern hospitality.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:16 PM
 
Location: on the edge of Sanity
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I am really surprised by some of the posts here from people who are from the Northeast.

I was born and raised in Massachusetts by 2 White, Jewish parents from Boston and taught to say "Yes, Ma'am and Sir." It's called being polite and treating people with respect, something that isn't necessarily regional. If I knew the person's name then it was "Yes, Mr. Jones" or "Yes, Mrs. Brown."
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justNancy View Post
I am really surprised by some of the posts here from people who are from the Northeast.

I was born and raised in Massachusetts by 2 White, Jewish parents from Boston and taught to say "Yes, Ma'am and Sir." It's called being polite and treating people with respect, something that isn't necessarily regional. If I knew the person's name then it was "Yes, Mr. Jones" or "Yes, Mrs. Brown."
I'm not familiar with New England but I don't think you can say "ma'am" makes someone more polite. The Mr. and Ms. thing is something New Yorkers might say in formal situations but saying "ma'am" would get you looked at funny or cursed out if you said it to the wrong people. (Sir seems to be OK, but you might get looked at funny unless you were in a really formal situation). So, how is it more polite in that context to say "ma'am"?

The same thing with "Hey." Southerners like to say "Hey" as a greeting. In Chicago, that's the beginning of a fight.

I don't understand how its "southern hospitality" to be so self-righteous about a using a silly phrase.

Last edited by coped; 01-22-2013 at 07:38 AM..
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:38 AM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
10,519 posts, read 20,558,242 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coped View Post
I wouldn't start using it if you don't know the rules to it because you might wind up offending someone. It's perfectly polite not to use it. The use of silly monikers like this doesn't show a better or more polite upbringing, just a different one in a different region.
I really do not agree with this at all. Using "Sir" and "Ma'am" DO speak to the politeness of one's upbringing, and it's hard to imagine anyone in this area in this time being offended by it, though some seem to interpret it as being called "old" (although I have never seen how THAT is an insult). NC is still a Southern state and in the South, using these terms is more polite than not.

coped, I take it you have not lived in NC for very long? The question was about how NC/the South does things, not the US in general (which varies, of course).
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:43 AM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhatUpFLA View Post
Actually, you're not supposed to address female customers, patrons, etc. with the title "ma'am." You're supposed to address females with the title "miss," regardless of their age and/or marital status. Actually, technically speaking, the most proper and politically correct title is "Ms." (pronounced "mizz"); but most people pronounce the prefix "Ms." the same way they pronounce "miss" out of either laziness or not knowing that those two titles are pronounced differently. I learned that when I was growing up and attending Roman Catholic grammar school where you undoubtedly receive some of the highest caliber education on both the English language and respect. Unlike my parents, however, my teachers weren't nuns. If anyone a few decades older than me is originally from the Northeast and attended Roman Catholic grammar school, they received their education from nuns who were much harsher critics than the instructors I had.

I worked three different customer jobs throughout high school and undergrad. "Ms." or "Miss" was how I always addressed female customers, patrons, etc.; again regardless of their age and/or marital status. Assuming a female's age is a very bold, potentially dangerous thing to do. Most women, especially older women, are absolutely flattered when you refer to them as "Miss" or "Ms." They like it so much because the title "Miss" is usually attributed to or associated with being young. That's my $0.02.
Disagree, and I worked in customer service for many years. "Miss" comes across to me as patronizing unless it is a significantly younger person than the one saying it (like a teenager or child). "Miz" is something I have never heard used without a last name. Yes, if you address customers by "Ms. Jones", that is polite and respectful (certainly more respectful than calling them by their first names, which far too many places do, trying to appear "buddies"!)

I can't fathom having called an older lady "Miss" or "Miz" when I used to wait tables or work in/manage a store--it was always "Ma'am" or, if we knew their name, "Ms/Mrs X". And all of this was in NC.

EDIT: I see from another post that you are from Rhode Island. This thread is about Southern ways of addressing; I can't speak for how they do it up there, but that is for the RI forum
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:34 AM
 
2,603 posts, read 4,486,781 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francois View Post
I really do not agree with this at all. Using "Sir" and "Ma'am" DO speak to the politeness of one's upbringing, and it's hard to imagine anyone in this area in this time being offended by it, though some seem to interpret it as being called "old" (although I have never seen how THAT is an insult). NC is still a Southern state and in the South, using these terms is more polite than not.

coped, I take it you have not lived in NC for very long? The question was about how NC/the South does things, not the US in general (which varies, of course).
Would you say the same about someone who doesn't say gub'ner or "mate" etc? Again, it's a regional thing.

I've lived in nc all my life. While when I was a kid in the 80s some schoolteachers preferred that, I don't remember it being a deal breaker except with some really uppity people. As an adult, I would never call a woman under 60 ma'am unless I was dealing with someone giving me a hard time. Like if a customer service rep is not doing her job, I might say ma'am sternly to get my point across and underscore the fact that I'm in charge. Otherwise it just sounds silly. And yes, it is common practice for service folks to not call women ma'am.
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Old 01-22-2013, 01:31 PM
 
Location: on the edge of Sanity
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coped View Post
I'm not familiar with New England but I don't think you can say "ma'am" makes someone more polite. The Mr. and Ms. thing is something New Yorkers might say in formal situations but saying "ma'am" would get you looked at funny or cursed out if you said it to the wrong people. (Sir seems to be OK, but you might get looked at funny unless you were in a really formal situation). So, how is it more polite in that context to say "ma'am"?

The same thing with "Hey." Southerners like to say "Hey" as a greeting. In Chicago, that's the beginning of a fight.

I don't understand how its "southern hospitality" to be so self-righteous about a using a silly phrase.
Self-righteous is the same as being polite? I guess you never served in the U.S. Military. Is that also just for Southerners?
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:22 PM
 
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Originally Posted by justNancy View Post
Self-righteous is the same as being polite? I guess you never served in the U.S. Military. Is that also just for Southerners?
No. I'm not saying that people who use "ma'am" are self righteous. But people who act like using "ma'am" makes them better or more polite than someone else are self righteous.

For the most part, it is an anachronism. But it is still common among older generations in the South, particularly in rural areas. However, that is dying out. In urban and suburban areas in the South, it is rare to hear it.

In the military, using those terms is about keeping a strict hierarchy and deference to "superiors" in place. Doesn't really translate well into modern civilian life.
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:56 PM
 
159 posts, read 213,001 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coped View Post
No. I'm not saying that people who use "ma'am" are self righteous. But people who act like using "ma'am" makes them better or more polite than someone else are self righteous.
Acting like it makes you better would be self righteous. Thinking it makes you more polite is not.

When you're faced with a choice - more formal speech or less formal speech, choosing the more formal speech is indeed a way of being polite.

Sure, you can say sir/ma'am in a mocking way and screw up the whole intent, but that's not the point here.
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Old 01-22-2013, 04:20 PM
 
2,603 posts, read 4,486,781 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parkman View Post
Acting like it makes you better would be self righteous. Thinking it makes you more polite is not.

When you're faced with a choice - more formal speech or less formal speech, choosing the more formal speech is indeed a way of being polite.

Sure, you can say sir/ma'am in a mocking way and screw up the whole intent, but that's not the point here.
Hmm. That's interesting. People interpret things in a different way. And I still think this has regional, class, and generational differences.

Overly formal language can come off as polite and a sign of respect, but it can also be kind of an artificial barrier to communication. If you're trying to be friendly to someone, "ma'am" and "sir" can come off as stand-offish.

The worst is when someone in their 20s calls co-workers or bosses "ma'am" and "sir." It seems stilted and servile. You do sometimes have to coach young guys from the South or right out of the military not to do that. Very unprofessional.
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