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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Mate check
Am I alone in thinking that there's a good deal more public mating going on than was wont to be the case? Yesterday, for example, I was in the supermarket, and I saw a customer walk up to an assistant (both were men in their twenties) and say "Excuse me, mate," to which the reply was "Yes mate, can I help you?" Nothing very remarkable about that, but it seems to me that twenty years ago that exchange would likely have omitted the 'mate's. I may not be a good witness, mind, because being addressed as 'mate' was something that put my teeth on edge before I transitioned: perhaps I'm oversensitive to it.

Anyway, it's got me to thinking more about the ways that shoppers and shop assistants address each other. It's the kind of thing I'd like to be able to draw on a regional map, but it would need extra dimensions to show the age and sex of each speaker. 'Mate', for example, I think of it as basically a London (or south-eastern) form of address - though increasingly widespread - used almost exclusively between men. 'Love,' can be used by women to anyone, but by men only to women - as can its regional variants ("My lover" - south-west, "Pet" - north-east, etc.). In Bristol, older male shopkeepers are likely to address male customers (of any age) as 'young man'.

Madam/ma'am is an odd one, too. It seems to me that in the States (where I imagine its use to be greatest in the south and mid-West, the coasts being characterized more by a "Hi, what can I get you?" culture) this word is always pronounced without the middle 'd'. In this country, the 'd'-less version is only used (and then with a much longer 'a') when addressing the queen, or a superior officer in the police or armed forces. For ordinary shop use, it's always 'Madam'.

While I'm on the subject, has it been generally remarked that when men hug each other they seem to feel obliged to slap each other on the back simultaneously, as if engaged in a mutual burping? I first noticed this when watching Friends, where the male characters slapped each other's backs until their hands were raw, such was their terror of being thought gay, but I've seen it a good deal in recent years. Of course, when I was younger men did not hug each other at all. Those were happier times.

Anyway - if you have additional or corrective information from your own observation, do tell.

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just observations really - I remember a New Yorker cartoon from a couple of years ago where two men are doing the mutual hug/backslap thing and one has a thought-bubble saying "I really miss the manly handshake?' (or words to that effect)

Which makes me think of the increasing prevalence of the continental-style-kiss in greeting. Now, I have male friends I'm happy to exchange such closeness with but I am getting rather tired of chance-met-at-conventions men leaning in as a matter of course, and a couple of business acquaintances doing the same when frankly my main concern wouldn't be catching a cold off them but feeling their knife in my back...

In day to day life, I am also getting tired of being lumped together with my husband by shop/restaurant staff as 'guys' - as in 'there you go guys' when food is served, 'thanks guys' when we leave. That's not a gender-neutral word as far as I am concerned and also presumes a false level of intimacy.

And yes, they can get off my lawn...

Could the "guys" be an Americanism? In the Northeast, "you guys" is simply the plural form of "you," equivalent to the Southern "y'all," but I think this spills over so that "guys" becomes a gender-neutral way of addressing a group even when you leave out the "you," as with your "thanks guys" example. When I was growing up in the NYC area, one of my closest friends had a Bostonian mother; the key way you could tell she wasn't from the local area was just how insistently she used, "guys," all the time, to address everyone - my family made fun of her for it. But I think that it was more the extent to which she did it that we found odd than that she did it at all.

(no subject) - ashkitty, 2013-09-17 11:25 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - eglantine_br, 2013-09-17 12:27 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ashkitty, 2013-09-17 11:23 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - jemck, 2013-09-17 11:41 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ashkitty, 2013-09-17 09:52 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-17 11:57 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kalypso_v, 2013-09-17 12:37 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-17 12:38 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ethelmay, 2013-09-17 10:35 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-17 10:37 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ethelmay, 2013-09-17 11:19 pm (UTC)(Expand)
I'm wondering about the influence of Aussie TV series and teachers and bartenders in the UK, for that usage of 'mate' sounds somewhat Ocker to me. Our use started in the UK, so if it's gone back there it would be a fair return.

I find that very plausible.

Notts equivalent of love/pet = duck

I agree that there is a lot more mating going on. A lot more informality altogether... I hate it when salespeople instantly start using my first name. But I also dislike being called Mrs Lamentables.

My surname is unpronouncable by most of the general populace, apparently, so I end up being on a first name basis with a lot of people very quickly. At least I'm American so don't mind? ;)

The Queen is a short a Ma'am to rhyme with spam, not ma'am to rhyme with harm. I think that the armed forces are long a ma'ams, though, but I could be mistaken.

It's pal up here, which I really like. Being called pal in the supermarket when I moved back from Brussels made me feel properly home again.

In my mind, being called 'pal' is always preparatory to being asked to step outside for a fight!

In the Derby/Nottingham area women call you "ducks" or "me duck". In the North East you can be "pet", "petal", "flower", "hinny" and many other delightful terms.

I remember hearing 'hen' from Glaswegians too, but I'm not sure if it's a term you can use with strangers.

My brother-in-law calls everybody "mate" including his wife and mother-in-law.

Is that his 'natural' way of talking, or is it an affectation? (Not that this is an easy distinction to make when it's the habit of years.)

(no subject) - poliphilo, 2013-09-17 04:08 pm (UTC)(Expand)
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(no subject) - sheldrake, 2013-09-17 08:19 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-17 08:27 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ethelmay, 2013-09-17 11:21 pm (UTC)(Expand)
I've been called 'flower' in Newcastle. (And its Welsh equivalent, blodyn, in Anglesey. Northerners like flowers?)

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I'd appreciate that!

The border between 'especially' and 'almost exclusively' is a fuzzy one. Still, I can't remember the last time I heard a woman addressed as 'mate', and only very rarely have I heard a woman address anyone of either sex that way (in real life - on Eastenders it would sound more natural). Perhaps this is a regional thing - although of course I do lead a very sheltered life...

I wonder if you need to add class to your multidimensional map. I've noticed shop assistants call customer A "mate," then call customer B (same age, but wearing a suit) "sir." I've also noticed that when we get deliveries at work, the drivers call our junior (male, variety of ages) staff "mate", but if one of the managers happens to accept the delivery, no "mate" is offered.

Yes, you're quite right. (And of course there's nothing more excruciating than watching a middle-class man adopting the term when talking to a tradesman, so as to appear - literally - matey.) Now we've gone beyond three dimensions the true situation will be conceivable only by those with degrees in advanced topology, but 'twas ever thus.

Edited at 2013-09-17 03:47 pm (UTC)

Comedian Lew Schneider says on Dr Katz: Professional Therapist, "Men hug, but they pat too. It's like, 'I'm hugging you, but I'm hitting you.'"

And then there's "dude." Used all around, with variable feelings.

I'm glad it's not just me who finds it strange!

In the Netherlands recently I heard one supermarket worker (male) casually address another (female) as lekker ding 'tasty thing'. Hardly imaginable in an Anglo country, I should think (or is it?).

Not unless one is looking for a sexual harassment suit, no!

I've noticed a distressing trend in my workplace for men to address other men as 'fella/feller'. As in 'How you doin', fella, you all right? Ok then, fella, I'll speak to you later.'

In a branch of Wilkinsons not that long ago, I was a bit annoyed when the assistant addressed the man he served before me as 'sir', but I got called 'love'. It seemed inconsistent.

'Feller' should definitely be restricted to lumberjacks - or North Americans, at any rate.

Referring to ladyofastolat's point upthread I suppose the question becomes, was the man ahead of you wearing a suit - or at any rate dressed more smartly than you?

(no subject) - sheldrake, 2013-09-17 08:46 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ethelmay, 2013-09-17 10:41 pm (UTC)(Expand)
In the US, In the 1970s people got called 'Mac.' (as in: "Hey, you want to pull that big rig over Mac?")

I think it had something to do with the popularity of trucker movies.

In my experience, "guys" or "you guys" as a form of address is gender neutral. "That guy" is masculine.

"Hey, lady" is decidedly old-fashioned.

I've been called all sorts of thing in shops--"flower," "ducks," "love," and once in the Norwich market a few decades ago, "Lady Doi"! That was inspired by a legendary hat, which I lost once on an East Coast train, and found again on Scarborough station, being admired by railwaymen: "We've all 'ad it on, love, and it don't suit none of us."


"We've all 'ad it on, love, and it don't suit none of us."

That's great!

oh man, the first time a shopkeeper said, "and what can I do for you, my love?" (don't remember where that was) I was so startled I gaped at him for a couple of seconds.

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