Discussion:
Adressing people ma'am and sir
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Lazar Beshkenadze
2017-11-22 03:37:47 UTC
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Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!

I would appreciate if you explained to me what are expectations of using these forms of address.

I would like to hear from different English speaking countries but especially am concerned about the island 'cause I'm visiting Manchester soon.

Thanks in advance!
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2017-11-22 06:41:13 UTC
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Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!
I would appreciate if you explained to me what are expectations of
using these forms of address.
I would like to hear from different English speaking countries but
especially am concerned about the island 'cause I'm visiting Manchester
soon.
Thanks in advance!
I don't suppose you'll be meeting the Queen in Manchester, but if you
do you should call her Your Majesty at first meeting, Ma'am afterwards.
Otherwise you won't ever need to say Ma'am in England. You won't need
Sir either unless you're planning to enlist in the armed forces or work
as a shop assistant or otherwise need to address people who clearly
outrank you. I don't think I've ever said Ma'am seriously in all my
life, or Sir since I left school. Occasionally people address me as
Sir, and when they do the usual reaction is to say "please don't call
me sir".

As a more general guide, observe what the people around you are doing.
--
athel
Lazar Beshkenadze
2017-11-22 07:09:36 UTC
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Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Occasionally people address me as
Sir, and when they do the usual reaction is to say "please don't call
me sir".
I was going to do that but if you say don't
Peter Moylan
2017-11-22 11:21:05 UTC
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Yet another example of how easily we -- well, I -- can misread something
seen in an unfamiliar script. There's a cleaning product called Napisan
that's used for soaking stained nappies (diapers), and that's how I read
the last word in the above line.

Once I read a book where one of the characters was an American
journalist who had been based in Moscow for a long time, and was then
transferred to Paris. In Paris he kept seeing signs saying BNP (banque
national de Paris), and misreading it as "beer".
--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2017-11-22 11:27:53 UTC
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Post by Peter Moylan
среда, 22 ноября 2017 г., 9:41:20 UTC+3 пользователь Athel
Yet another example of how easily we -- well, I -- can misread
something seen in an unfamiliar script. There's a cleaning product
called Napisan that's used for soaking stained nappies (diapers), and
that's how I read the last word in the above line.
Once I read a book where one of the characters was an American
journalist who had been based in Moscow for a long time, and was then
transferred to Paris. In Paris he kept seeing signs saying BNP (banque
national de Paris), and misreading it as "beer".
Quoi? I thought beer was пиво, which doesn't look much like BNP.
--
athel
Peter Moylan
2017-11-22 11:41:07 UTC
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Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Peter Moylan
среда, 22 ноября 2017 г., 9:41:20 UTC+3 пользователь Athel
Yet another example of how easily we -- well, I -- can misread
something seen in an unfamiliar script. There's a cleaning product
called Napisan that's used for soaking stained nappies (diapers), and
that's how I read the last word in the above line.
Once I read a book where one of the characters was an American
journalist who had been based in Moscow for a long time, and was then
transferred to Paris. In Paris he kept seeing signs saying BNP (banque
national de Paris), and misreading it as "beer".
Quoi? I thought beer was пиво, which doesn't look much like BNP.
It's not a question of translating the words, but just sounding out the
letters, in a situation where you know two alphabets that are similar
but not identical.

In the same situation, I would probably read it as "vir", which would
send me off on the side-track of wondering why someone was writing Latin
in Cyrillic script.
--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Peter Young
2017-11-22 07:51:37 UTC
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Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!
I would appreciate if you explained to me what are expectations of
using these forms of address.
I would like to hear from different English speaking countries but
especially am concerned about the island 'cause I'm visiting Manchester
soon.
Thanks in advance!
I don't suppose you'll be meeting the Queen in Manchester, but if you
do you should call her Your Majesty at first meeting, Ma'am afterwards.
Otherwise you won't ever need to say Ma'am in England. You won't need
Sir either unless you're planning to enlist in the armed forces or work
as a shop assistant or otherwise need to address people who clearly
outrank you. I don't think I've ever said Ma'am seriously in all my
life, or Sir since I left school. Occasionally people address me as
Sir, and when they do the usual reaction is to say "please don't call
me sir".
I'm glad there's someone else who doesn't like being addressed as
"Sir". I say the same as you, adding, "It makes me feel really old".

Peter.
--
Peter Young, (BrE, RP), Consultant Anaesthetist, 1975-2004.
(US equivalent: Certified Anesthesiologist) (AUE Pt)
Cheltenham and Gloucester, UK. Now happily retired.
http://pnyoung.orpheusweb.co.uk
Janet
2017-11-22 12:36:23 UTC
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Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!
I would appreciate if you explained to me what are expectations of
using these forms of address.
At the first meeting with adults whose name you know, it's
polite to greet or address them with title/surname, as Mr Smith or Ms
Jones. They may later invite you to use first names, but don't do it
until they offer.

If you address a stranger in a shop, station etc, it's enough
to precede your enquiry with an impersonal greeting such as "Good
morning, I'd like a ticket to X " or " Hello, could you direct me to the
bakery". Or a simple "Thankyou" for your change, ticket, coffee etc.
You don't need to use sir, ma-am, madam.

Americans might say "sir" or "ma-am" but that is not usual or expected
in Britain.



Janet.
Richard Heathfield
2017-11-22 08:04:04 UTC
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[Subject line assumed read in body: "Re: Adressing people ma'am and sir"]
Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!
I would appreciate if you explained to me what are expectations of using these forms of address.
"Ma'am" and "sir" will do nicely.
Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
I would like to hear from different English speaking countries but
especially am concerned about the island 'cause I'm visiting Manchester
soon.
In Britain, the term "the island" is most commonly used for the refuge
half-way across a busy road in which pedestrians may stand whilst
waiting for a gap in the traffic. If you use it to mean the UK without
making it clear what you mean, you will not be understood by most
Mancunians.
--
Richard Heathfield
Email: rjh at cpax dot org dot uk
"Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29 July 1999
Sig line 4 vacant - apply within
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2017-11-22 08:17:21 UTC
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Post by Richard Heathfield
[Subject line assumed read in body: "Re: Adressing people ma'am and sir"]
Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!
I would appreciate if you explained to me what are expectations of
using these forms of address.
"Ma'am" and "sir" will do nicely.
Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
I would like to hear from different English speaking countries but
especially am concerned about the island 'cause I'm visiting Manchester
soon.
In Britain, the term "the island" is most commonly used for the refuge
half-way across a busy road in which pedestrians may stand whilst
waiting for a gap in the traffic. If you use it to mean the UK without
making it clear what you mean, you will not be understood by most
Mancunians.
I wondered about "the island" but decided to let it pass. Anyway, you're right.

While we're at it, he shouldn't abbreviate "because" to "'cause". If he
wants to be colloquial he can abbreviate it to "cos", but that wouldn't
be appropriate here.
--
athel
Lazar Beshkenadze
2017-11-22 08:30:40 UTC
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Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Richard Heathfield
"Ma'am" and "sir" will do nicely.
[snip]
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
While we're at it, he shouldn't abbreviate "because" to "'cause".
What's wrong with that? Is it British or it pertains to the US too?

And what do you say about Mr. Heathfield's acceptance of the forms of address in question? Excuse me, but this is what worries me most. :)
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2017-11-22 08:50:10 UTC
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среда, 22 ноября 2017 г., 11:17:25 UTC+3 пользователь Athel
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Richard Heathfield
"Ma'am" and "sir" will do nicely.
[snip]
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
While we're at it, he shouldn't abbreviate "because" to "'cause".
What's wrong with that? Is it British or it pertains to the US too?
It's not so much wrong as pointless: seven characters reduced to six,
one of them one that requires (on many keyboards, albeit not mine) the
shift key. In reported dialogue the usual spelling is "cos", though, to
be fair, "'cause" does crop up occasionally.
And what do you say about Mr. Heathfield's acceptance of the forms of
address in question? Excuse me, but this is what worries me most. :)
--
athel
Richard Heathfield
2017-11-22 09:20:01 UTC
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Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Richard Heathfield
"Ma'am" and "sir" will do nicely.
[snip]
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
While we're at it, he shouldn't abbreviate "because" to "'cause".
What's wrong with that?
Nothing's wrong with it, exactly - but "'cos" is more common in the UK.
Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
Is it British or it pertains to the US too?
I can't comment on that.
Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
And what do you say about Mr. Heathfield's acceptance
of the forms of address in question? Excuse me, but
this is what worries me most. :)
There's no need to worry, at least not in the UK. If you call a man
"sir", you won't offend him, even if he'd rather be called something
else. He will simply correct you (as someone here has already pointed
out that he would do).

Same goes for "ma'am": some women might object to "miss" and others to
"madam", but I've never known any who object to "ma'am". Again, even if
she would rather be called something else, she won't be offended. She
will simply correct you.

And that's why I said "sir" and "ma'am" would do very well as default
forms of address in the UK. They are acceptable even to people who would
prefer to be addressed in some other way.

I only know of one other form of address that is quite as catholic as
the above two, and that is "boss". This has the advantage of gender
neutrality, but is far less formal (which might not be appropriate in
your circumstances).
--
Richard Heathfield
Email: rjh at cpax dot org dot uk
"Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29 July 1999
Sig line 4 vacant - apply within
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2017-11-22 09:49:28 UTC
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Post by Richard Heathfield
среда, 22 ноября 2017 г., 11:17:25 UTC+3 пользователь Athel
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Richard Heathfield
"Ma'am" and "sir" will do nicely.
[snip]
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
While we're at it, he shouldn't abbreviate "because" to "'cause".
What's wrong with that?
Nothing's wrong with it, exactly - but "'cos" is more common in the UK.
Is it British or it pertains to the US too?
I can't comment on that.
And what do you say about Mr. Heathfield's acceptance
of the forms of address in question? Excuse me, but
this is what worries me most. :)
There's no need to worry, at least not in the UK. If you call a man
"sir", you won't offend him, even if he'd rather be called something
else. He will simply correct you (as someone here has already pointed
out that he would do).
Same goes for "ma'am": some women might object to "miss" and others to
"madam", but I've never known any who object to "ma'am". Again, even if
she would rather be called something else, she won't be offended. She
will simply correct you.
And that's why I said "sir" and "ma'am" would do very well as default
forms of address in the UK. They are acceptable even to people who
would prefer to be addressed in some other way.
OK, they're acceptable, but in ordinary use they're at least 100 times
less common than the equivalent words in French, where you'd address
any woman from the wife of the President to the cashier in a
supermarket as Madame (or Mademoiselle, if she looks young enough), and
similarly for Monsieur.
Post by Richard Heathfield
I only know of one other form of address that is quite as catholic as
the above two, and that is "boss". This has the advantage of gender
neutrality, but is far less formal (which might not be appropriate in
your circumstances).
--
athel
Lazar Beshkenadze
2017-11-22 08:33:23 UTC
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Post by Richard Heathfield
In Britain, the term "the island" is most commonly used for the refuge
half-way across a busy road in which pedestrians may stand whilst
waiting for a gap in the traffic.
But I'm not in Britain yet. :)
Post by Richard Heathfield
If you use it to mean the UK without
making it clear what you mean, you will not be understood by most
Mancunians.
Understood. Thank you.
Janet
2017-11-22 12:43:34 UTC
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Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
Post by Richard Heathfield
In Britain, the term "the island" is most commonly used for the refuge
half-way across a busy road in which pedestrians may stand whilst
waiting for a gap in the traffic.
But I'm not in Britain yet. :)
When you get here, remember not to refer to Britain or the UK as
England.

Janet
Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
Post by Richard Heathfield
If you use it to mean the UK without
making it clear what you mean, you will not be understood by most
Mancunians.
Understood. Thank you.
GordonD
2017-11-22 10:25:16 UTC
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Post by Richard Heathfield
[Subject line assumed read in body: "Re: Adressing people ma'am and sir"]
Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!
I would appreciate if you explained to me what are expectations of
using these forms of address.
"Ma'am" and "sir" will do nicely.
Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
I would like to hear from different English speaking countries but
especially am concerned about the island 'cause I'm visiting Manchester
soon.
In Britain, the term "the island" is most commonly used for the refuge
half-way across a busy road in which pedestrians may stand whilst
waiting for a gap in the traffic. If you use it to mean the UK without
making it clear what you mean, you will not be understood by most
Mancunians.
And of course the UK isn't an island.
--
Gordon Davie
Edinburgh, Scotland
Lazar Beshkenadze
2017-11-22 11:09:36 UTC
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Post by GordonD
And of course the UK isn't an island.
Ok, gentlemen! Thanks to all of you.

I'm leaving now. But perhaps will be back - I
Peter Moylan
2017-11-22 11:26:46 UTC
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Post by GordonD
Post by Richard Heathfield
In Britain, the term "the island" is most commonly used for the refuge
half-way across a busy road in which pedestrians may stand whilst
waiting for a gap in the traffic. If you use it to mean the UK without
making it clear what you mean, you will not be understood by most
Mancunians.
And of course the UK isn't an island.
No, Man is an island.
--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Richard Heathfield
2017-11-22 11:44:43 UTC
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Post by GordonD
Post by Richard Heathfield
[Subject line assumed read in body: "Re: Adressing people ma'am and sir"]
Post by Lazar Beshkenadze
I would like to hear from different English speaking countries but
especially am concerned about the island 'cause I'm visiting Manchester
soon.
In Britain, the term "the island" is most commonly used for the refuge
half-way across a busy road in which pedestrians may stand whilst
waiting for a gap in the traffic. If you use it to mean the UK without
making it clear what you mean, you will not be understood by most
Mancunians.
And of course the UK isn't an island.
That too.
--
Richard Heathfield
Email: rjh at cpax dot org dot uk
"Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29 July 1999
Sig line 4 vacant - apply within
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