Honorifics

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Stu
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Honorifics

Post by Stu »

When I first moved to Sweden, I was struck by how absolutely everybody called me by my first name. My physician, dentist, masseur, bank clerks, officials - everybody. They don't ask first, either, they just assume. That doesn't happen in the UK and it was a bit of a culture shock. To be honest, I prefer a more formal address when dealing with people I don't know personally.

Any thoughts?

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beachlion
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Re: Honorifics

Post by beachlion »

Where I worked for almost 25 year, a shipyard, everybody used first names, from the big boss down to the rat in the warehouse. I had to get used to it because I came from a company that was quite formal. But i got used to it and it teached me an important lesson. Your value will be judged by your results for your company, not by your titles.

When you operate on a first name base in a less formal structure, it is easier to communicate and solve problems with the person who might be capable of doing so. Or in other words: use the shortest line of communication.
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Gordon
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Re: Honorifics

Post by Gordon »

Stu wrote:When I first moved to Sweden, I was struck by how absolutely everybody called me by my first name. My physician, dentist, masseur, bank clerks, officials - everybody. They don't ask first, either, they just assume. That doesn't happen in the UK and it was a bit of a culture shock. To be honest, I prefer a more formal address when dealing with people I don't know personally.

Any thoughts?
Where did you live before that?
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Caultron
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Re: Honorifics

Post by Caultron »

Stu wrote:When I first moved to Sweden, I was struck by how absolutely everybody called me by my first name. My physician, dentist, masseur, bank clerks, officials - everybody. They don't ask first, either, they just assume. That doesn't happen in the UK and it was a bit of a culture shock. To be honest, I prefer a more formal address when dealing with people I don't know personally.

Any thoughts?
In the US almost everyone just uses first names for person-to-person communication. It's just considered friendly.

I think the only exception is people like waiters and hotel clerks, whose job it is to suck up.
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Kirbstone
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Re: Honorifics

Post by Kirbstone »

As they say, in the US of A, Just because you call your boss by his first name doesn't mean that you're on 'first name' terms with him !

Yom
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Stu
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Re: Honorifics

Post by Stu »

I lived in the UK before Sweden and there people dealing with you on a professional level would generally use your title and surname. Even one occasion when I was in hospital, the nurses asked me what I wanted to be called, which I found odd, but I automatically suggested my surname. It's perhaps not as friendly as using a first name, but I appreciate the politeness and professional distance. Certainly, my doctor, dentist, accountant, lawyer, bank manager and so on would never normally use my first name - unless perhaps they had known me for many years and we were on first name terms. I can't recall ever been called "Mr" in Sweden by anyone, or even the Swedish equivalent "herr". Work is a different situation and I expect everyone to call me by my first name and they almost invariably do. I am a university teacher and very occasionally, I will be called or referred to as "Professor" by my students, usually if they are either American or Chinese students. That's flattering me because I am not a full professor, but they seem to call all the teachers that regardless of grade. I have a PhD so "Dr" would be accurate, but I don't remember anyone using that title in Sweden and it's not even on my nameplate outside my office as it would be in a UK university. Similarly, my wife has never been called "Mrs" or even "Ms" since we have lived here. When mail arrives from Sweden, it shows the full name of the intended recipient with no title at all, while the UK mail I receive almost always has Dr, Mr or Mrs in front of the name.

It strikes me as quite odd that two neighbouring European countries have such different social conventions in this way.

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Kirbstone
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Re: Honorifics

Post by Kirbstone »

Try Ireland, Stu.

Having lived and worked abroad for 31 consecutive years, (23 in England, 8 in Germany) I returned back here to live and work at age 53. I was quickly informed by a lot of friends and acquaintances that my manner was perceived here as far too formal and gradually over the years I have mellowed and now as a still-working 'grand old man' I address almost everybody by first names.

I'm now too old, but were I to return to either of those aforementioned countries to work it would be back to the former formality without a doubt. It's what is expected.

Tom
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Re: Honorifics

Post by pelmut »

Stu wrote:When I first moved to Sweden, I was struck by how absolutely everybody called me by my first name. My physician, dentist, masseur, bank clerks, officials - everybody. They don't ask first, either, they just assume. That doesn't happen in the UK and it was a bit of a culture shock. To be honest, I prefer a more formal address when dealing with people I don't know personally.

Any thoughts?
I don't like these titles because they categorise people - sometimes incorrectly. What difference does it make if a woman is Miss or Mrs. (or even Ms., which is correctly pronounced "Mistress") ...indeed, does it even matter for most daily activities, if the person is a woman or a man or intersex or transgender. Titles and other gendered words make life unnecessarily difficult if you are unsure of the person's gender; I have got quite used to the look of confusion and embarassment on shop assistants' faces when they call me "Sir' or "Madam" and then suddenly have second thoughts.
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Stu
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Re: Honorifics

Post by Stu »

Pelmut - sorry, I disagree. So far as I am concerned, honorifics should relate to biological sex and there are two sexes - male and female. We are a sexually dimorphic species: the vast majority of intersex people define themselves as male or female and their definition accords with their physiology. The proportion of people who have a physiology which is completely ambiguous and who don't feel able to align with one or other is so absolutely minuscule that we shouldn't reformulate our societal conventions to accommodate them.

I have no problem whatsoever with trans people. If someone changes sex and wishes to be referred to as the opposite sex then, so long as they signal this with their appearance, clothing choices, hairstyle, footwear, cosmetics, name and so on, then I will regard and treat them accordingly, and refer to them with a title that applies to the sex they purport to be. But - like I said - we are a sexually dimporphic species and we relate to each other according to how we perceive their sex. I am content with that arrangement and I do not want to see it undermined.

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beachlion
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Re: Honorifics

Post by beachlion »

In the English language, the second person is "you" but in other languages I know a little of, there is a "normal" and a "polite" form of addressing a person. Like in German it is Du and Sie, in French tu and vous end in Dutch je and u. So in a way the English speaking people have it easier.
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crfriend
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Re: Honorifics

Post by crfriend »

pelmut wrote:What difference does it make if a woman is Miss or Mrs. (or even Ms., which is correctly pronounced "Mistress")
Careful with that last one, Sir. As far as I'm aware "Ms" (supposedly pronounced as "mizz") is an entirely new concoction springing from the loins of radical "feminism". "Mistress", however, formally refers to an underage girl just as "Master" refers to an underage boy (at least in old-school US usage).

On the formality of honorific, I find myself confused when I am called "Mr. Friend" -- that's my father! (Even worse was when a few folks at a place I used to work at long, long ago took to calling me "Dr. Friend" which confused me to no end because (1) that's my grandfather and (2) I have no letters following my name.)

Personally, I regard the honorific as a charming relic of the past, albeit one that I occasionally use. If hard put, I simply omit names altogether and either use "sir" or "ma'am" and feel it out from there. I have yet to be in the presence of anyone who seemingly needs to be called otherwise.
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denimini
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Re: Honorifics

Post by denimini »

"Mate" covers most situations here. I personally don't use it but am often addressed with it, usually by strangers.
I had an appointment with the flying dentist the other day, he is a new recruit, a young fellow with a strong Irish accent, greeting me in a frienfly way with "Hi Tony" . (I haven't been called Tony since I was a kid).
There is a tradition of respect in my town where one addresses people older than oneself by prefixing their first name with Aunty or Uncle, sometimes shortened to Aunt or Unc without their name.
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Kirbstone
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Re: Honorifics

Post by Kirbstone »

Denimini,

Beware dentists with Irish accents! They might address you by first name, but behind their eyes is the well-kept Irish dentists' secret code regarding treatment....'Once more with Feeling' :wink:

Btw. No-one addresses Anyone using the word 'Mate' here.

Tom
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r.m.anderson
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Re: Honorifics

Post by r.m.anderson »

Just be careful very careful if someone or the authorities start using your FULL NAME !
Thomas John Jones you are summoned to appear before -----
Adam Jacob Smith if you don't get your hide in the house for dinner -----
You definitely are in for something and mostly likely it is not going to be pleasant !

First names what about nick-names ?
"Kilt-On" -or- as the case may be "Skirt-On" !
WHY ?
Isn't wearing a kilt enough?
Well a skirt will do in a pinch!
Make mine short and don't you dare think of pinching there !

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Re: Honorifics

Post by pelmut »

crfriend wrote:... As far as I'm aware "Ms" (supposedly pronounced as "mizz") is an entirely new concoction springing from the loins of radical "feminism". "Mistress", however, formally refers to an underage girl just as "Master" refers to an underage boy (at least in old-school US usage).
Ms is an abbreviaton for "Mistress", so to be correct we should pronounce that word, not try to pronounce the abbreviation. To be consistent with the feminists approach we would have to pronounce Mr. as "Murr" and Mrs. as "Merz".
There is no such thing as a normal person, only someone you don't know very well yet.

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