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Æthelthryth the Texan

North/south behaviors. Is this true?

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NJ born and raised.  Holding doors for people coming behind you, or people in front of you hitting it at the same time, or someone struggling with strollers/packages/carts/etc. is very normal.  I see it all the time.

 

Sir and Ma'am are not.  Definitely used more sarcastically around here unless the person is a police officer.  Most adults seem to have kids call them by first names or Miss/Mrs./Mr. first name.

 

Chit-chat - I don't see it as rude to not want to chit-chat with complete strangers out in public.  That would actually make me uncomfortable and I'd probably smile, give a one word answer and continue on my way.

 

Drivers on the other hand - :crying: . I had to drive DS to camp at our local university for three weeks.  In the middle of rush hour, on a major path into NYC.  The crap I saw, the near accidents, the sheer idiocy....ugh.

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I live in the South and I am VERY surprised when a male doesn't get a door for me (because I'm a woman) -- that's how common it is. I great up in the North and when I go back, I am definitely struck by how unfriendly people are -- not just the door-holding thing but the idea of making friendly chit-chat with someone you don't know is pretty foreign. The drivers are a lot more rude and aggressive too.

 

I have never really gotten used to the Sir/Ma'am thing. I feel uncomfortable when kids call me that -- almost like I must be intimidating or unapproachable (because in the North, it's for those in positions of authority/power, or if you are in customer service). It indicates (for me) a lack of intimacy and ease. 

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As a teen, when I worked in a small town grocery store in southern Ohio, I was told not to sir/ma'am because it came up so often in complaints, that usually started about something else, that a staff member had also been rude by saying it "wrong" (sarcastically, not appropriately, whatever) and they wanted to see said staff member properly dealt with. Apparently, it had happened often enough that we were just to avoid it. But then, at the community college in the city next to us, it was used a lot by reception and support staff. It was all weird and I was misgendered a lot! I still recall the first time someone said 'thank you, young man' to me for opening a door, very surreal at the time. I could see trying to keep up with what others are doing a bit of a minefield before we get into misgendering issues though. 

 

Thankfully for me, sir/ma'aming is not done in general in UK from what I've experienced. I am regularly called duck though which my kids sometimes quack in response to being called. The door opening/holding and such is pretty normal though - I regularly see people moving ahead to open the doors for others particularly if they're carrying something or have a pushchair or something and I've done so myself. 

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So Cal native:

 

Kids do not Sir/Maam anyone. My kids don't Miss XYZ anyone either, except possibly some of their charter school teachers, and even then, it's pretty rare at their laid back charter. It's all first names. If anyone corrected my kids, I would think they were uptight, old, and/or not from here.

 

People hold the doors for me much less when I am overweight vs. when I am normal weight in So Cal. It's like a night and day difference. My other overweight friends have noticed the same. It's pretty sad, actually.

 

My husband (a Canadian) is way chattier with random people than I am. I am certainly more introverted than he is, but I have also noticed that Canadians are just friendlier overall. I don't think people in So Cal are unfriendly per se, more just busy and/or preoccupied, and not always in the mood to chat it up with random strangers.

 

I remember when we moved into our apartment on the beach here, and my husband asked if we could go to the local cafe without our shoes on to grab some takeout. One of the locals responded that the cafe didn't care if you went without clothes on. Perhaps a bit of an overstatement (I've never tested it), but not by much. We live in a very laid back part of the country, and I love it. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by SeaConquest
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Ma'am is a Southern quirk. To me it puts people into 'ranks' / social labels in an uncomfortable way. Having said that I understand the intent and would react politely if someone used the term .

 

Could you expand on what you mean by "ranks" and social labels?

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My sister moved down south about a decade ago. She had to learn to teach her kids to say ma'am and sir down there because it would have been considered extremely rude if they did not use those terms when talking to adults. Up north that is a foreign concept to me unless you are specifically addressing your teacher or instructor.

 

Holding doors however should be univerasal

 

Growing up, teachers sent you to the principal for calling them ma'am. Very rude in the mid-Atlantic.

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I've seen door holding everywhere we've lived (south &Mid Atlantic) and almost everywhere we've traveled. Boston is the only place I remember getting a door slammed in my face when I didn't expect the person in front of me to let go.

 

I HATE being called ma'am. Growing up, that was only something that was polite when you were referring to the elderly (not just your elders but true elderly). It was rude to call adults ma'am or sir. You would say "Yes, Mrs, Jones" not "yes, ma'am" or "No, Mr. Smith" not "no, sir" or you might say "yes, please" or "no, thank you". I still remember a new student in elementary school getting sent to the principal's office because she wouldn't stop calling the teacher "ma'am", after being told a few times to stop. I DID NOT know it was the norm in the south UNTIL I moved to the south as a young adult. And I did not teach my children to do it, despite raising them in the south. They picked up on it some from friends and such but to my knowledge, never got in trouble for not using it. I taught and volunteered with kids quite a bit in the south and made sure my students knew to call me "Ms First Name" or "Mrs Last Name" (depending on the setting).

 

We've moved recently. Still technically but barely south. I don't hear ma'am or sir used much here. I know I haven't been called it, thank goodness.

Edited by QueenCat

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I dislike formality in casual life (in the workplace, formal address with academic title is appropriate)

But most importantly, to me this is something you say to OLD people (I don't feel old enough to be called Ma'am. It conjures up an image of a little old lady or elderly matron, not of a modern professional woman)

or if you want to express a power differential.

My DS uses Sir and Ma'am to address his senseis and higher ranking adult judokas, and police officers.

 

To me, this for of address is not something you use among equals.

To me it is merely a sign of respect that one pays to one's elders or anyone of a higher "rank" (like Professor, Pastor, Dr., etc).  I would call my considerably older boss, Mr. X. 

 

That's rather ageist to suggest that only old people have these manners. 

I also do not consider myself to be peers of those significantly older than me.  If someone has become an actual friend, I will call her by name, of course.  If she is my elder, she is not my peer and I will address her appropriately, with Ma'am, or Mrs. X. 

 

Manners never go out of style.  I'm glad my kids know this.  I just received a compliment yesterday from a professor as to how awesomely nice and mannerly my child is.

 

Call me old-fashioned. :)

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I grew up near Texas and I said "sir and ma'am" to all adults. It's almost a kindness word like "yes, please" or "no thank you". It wasn't meant to put people in a certain place or make oneself lower than the other. It's simply a kind/polite way to affirm what someone has said, and to show you were listening. I don't live there anymore, and in my current area it's not used at all. I only use those terms with family members who also use those phrases.

 

As far as rudeness, I have found North and NorthEast to be cold. NorthWest tends to be warmer and friendlier, but not syrupy like the South. JMO

 

ETA: I was taught to answer a direct question with sir or ma'am. I.E. "Would you like a chocolate chip cookie?" You would say yes followed by please, thank you, or ma'am, but never just yes or sure.

Edited by Outdoorsy Type
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That's interesting.  One of our dd's just graduated from OCS training at Quantico and all those military peoples were definitely still saying M'am and Sir.  Newbies as well as long-timers.  And they say it at the end of the full title.

 

Sometimes training like that is a lot more formal than a real working environment.

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You know, I know this is different all over but my husband i in the military and he is very rarely compelled to say sir or ma'am there. What he has to do, is use his superior's full title. "Yes BM1" No, Chief." etc..

 

 

That's interesting.  One of our dd's just graduated from OCS training at Quantico and all those military peoples were definitely still saying M'am and Sir.  Newbies as well as long-timers.  And they say it at the end of the full title.

 

This probably varies somewhat by service and even location. In my experience in the Air Force enlisted folks did use sir/ma'am frequently when addressing officers, officers also used it quite regularly when addressing officers more than a rank or so above them. NCO's were adamantly opposed to ever being called sir/ma'am ("I work for my living!")

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Thankfully for me, sir/ma'aming is not done in general in UK from what I've experienced. I am regularly called duck though which my kids sometimes quack in response to being called. The door opening/holding and such is pretty normal though - I regularly see people moving ahead to open the doors for others particularly if they're carrying something or have a pushchair or something and I've done so myself. 

 

In my home town, women are called 'My lover', as in 'All right, my lover?'  It doesn't have any connection to the other meaning of 'lover', as far as I know.  It's just a term of affection, but used to all.

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In my home town, women are called 'My lover', as in 'All right, my lover?'  It doesn't have any connection to the other meaning of 'lover', as far as I know.  It's just a term of affection, but used to all.

 

People in Newfoundland say that as well.

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People in Newfoundland say that as well.

 

Perfect.  This is from a Newfoundland migration page:

 

West of England fishermen from Bristol and Devonshire began making seasonal cod fishing adventures to the Newfoundland coasts, along with other Europeans, during the 16th century and continued into the early 19th century. 

My home town is Bristol.

http://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/society/migration.php

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You rarely hear ma'am where I live.  Sir is more common.  Honestly, when I have been called ma'am locally I highly doubt that the person ma'aming me was trying to show me respect. More likely they were angry.  In spite of all that, my dd has started yes ma'aming and no ma'aming me.  What the heck, where did that come from?  Not only does she do it at home, she does it out in public.  I wouldn't be surprised if some people thought she was being sassy.  She's not.  She just likes the sound of it.  

 

I just got back from Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.  I can't say I recall being called ma'am.  Maybe a few times but not enough that it stands out.  However, I do recall being called ma'am when I was in NC, SC, GA and FL, but that was also 20 years ago.  I couldn't honestly say that southern manners stood out to me anymore than northern manners.  Just different.  However, I have often felt like a non-entity when in Chicago, not the outlying areas but the city.  I chalk it up to all the people.

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I smile a bit every time my kids' dance teacher (from Ireland) uses "cheers babe" as a farewell or an in-passing greeting. It's just what he says to everyone, (at least all females) but it's out of the ordinary around here.

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Perfect.  This is from a Newfoundland migration page:

 

West of England fishermen from Bristol and Devonshire began making seasonal cod fishing adventures to the Newfoundland coasts, along with other Europeans, during the 16th century and continued into the early 19th century. 

My home town is Bristol.

http://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/society/migration.php

 

Ah, that's interesting and makes sense.  My Nana came from near Bristol, though I can't imagine her ever calling anyone "my lover."

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My kids "yes ma'am" me sometimes, usually with a salute thrown in. They're being a bit silly with it (and referencing my former military life) but not mocking.

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Ah, that's interesting and makes sense.  My Nana came from near Bristol, though I can't imagine her ever calling anyone "my lover."

 

Like so much to do with language in the UK, it's a class-based thing.

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I grew up in a northern state and have also lived on the west coast and the east coast. I now live in the south.

 

You know who I think are the friendliest people? The people who've moved around some. They know what it's like to be new and are more likely to extend genuine friendship. Places, in any region, where the majority of families have lived there for generations, tend to be less genuinely friendly and open. In the north, this can come across more directly with the aloofness. In the south it can come across with a friendly veneer but nothing more leading people to consider them as fake.

 

Also, people that move around are far less likely to be offended by the regional differences. It is astonishing to me that someone in the north would be offended by a southern child calling them ma'am. Or even being offended by someone raised in the south who simply continued practicing the manners in which they were raised.

 

I found the friendliest region where I lived was the Portland area. Lots of transplants, very genuine, laid-back. Good memories.

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I'm from CA and when we first moved to the South and I was hearing "Ma'am" all the time, I kept telling people, "where I'm from, you only call 90 year olds that." But now I'm used to it.

 

Holding doors and showing manners is fine in CA -- rushing through a door without helping others is seen as rather rude.

 

Alley

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I'm from CA and when we first moved to the South and I was hearing "Ma'am" all the time, I kept telling people, "where I'm from, you only call 90 year olds that." But now I'm used to it.

 

Holding doors and showing manners is fine in CA -- rushing through a door without helping others is seen as rather rude.

 

Alley

 

This brings up a question. I'm curious, are any of the folks not from the South having people from the South who move into your areas pressuring you to start using "ma'am/sir" or actively chastising you or your children for not doing so, calling you rude, etc, or are they just using it themselves? I've never lived anywhere else, so I have no experience with this. I've had quite a number of folks move here from other places and try to pressure people who live here into not using the terms, going far beyond just noting the difference to actively criticizing.

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I grew up in a northern state and have also lived on the west coast and the east coast. I now live in the south.

 

You know who I think are the friendliest people? The people who've moved around some. They know what it's like to be new and are more likely to extend genuine friendship. Places, in any region, where the majority of families have lived there for generations, tend to be less genuinely friendly and open. In the north, this can come across more directly with the aloofness. In the south it can come across with a friendly veneer but nothing more leading people to consider them as fake.

 

Also, people that move around are far less likely to be offended by the regional differences. It is astonishing to me that someone in the north would be offended by a southern child calling them ma'am. Or even being offended by someone raised in the south who simply continued practicing the manners in which they were raised.

 

I found the friendliest region where I lived was the Portland area. Lots of transplants, very genuine, laid-back. Good memories.

Word

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I grew up in a northern state and have also lived on the west coast and the east coast. I now live in the south.

 

You know who I think are the friendliest people? The people who've moved around some.

 

<snip>

 

Yes!  This is it exactly!

 

I live in a very static neighborhood.  Many people live in the house they grew up in, or bought their aunt's pr grandma's house when she died or otherwise have stayed in the neighborhood for years.  They have lots of ties here and have no need to be friendly because they still hang out with their childhood friends, their cousins who have also lived nearby forever, etc.   They have no interest in newcomers to the area.   We have made zero friends in our neighborhood after 9 years, despite efforts to invite people over and otherwise get involved.   Our direct neighbors (next door and across the street) are friendly; they are elderly widows who moved here over 50  years ago when the houses were new.  They at least have been nice to us.  But we also help them a lot.  :-)

 

 

 

Also, people that move around are far less likely to be offended by the regional differences. It is astonishing to me that someone in the north would be offended by a southern child calling them ma'am. Or even being offended by someone raised in the south who simply continued practicing the manners in which they were raised.

 

Yeah, I'm pretty stunned by this too.   Are people really so ignorant of different customs? 

Edited by marbel
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Could you expand on what you mean by "ranks" and social labels?

 

Couple people have mentioned it is the term used for higher-ranking figures like doctors and professors as well as for police officers. People with whom you are deliberately showing deference.  

 

I have used ma'am that way with elderly people or when time is urgent ("Ma'am, you dropped your wallet!" as someone is about to walk out they door).

 

I recently moved, and the movers called me ma'am several times. They also profusely thanked me, multiple times, for offering them a case of bottled water (which is obviously less than $5). And they asked permission to use my bathroom.  

 

Nothing wrong with any of that. But - it is codified contact where you could diagram rank  / social role.

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I don't think he's exaggerating.

 

I agree with the pp that said holding doors is universal. The ma'am/sir thing is more specific to areas.

 

I still get nervous to use people's first names sometimes!! Because it is so common to add "Miss/Ms" to a FIRST NAME. Mostly I think this is for children but I hear it in other cases as well.

 

Dh does one thing that drives me crazy. He will say "ma'am" or "sir" to our children sometimes. I say no no no... it is for someone older than you. A younger coworker used to ma'am everyone at work! I thought it was ridiculous since this meant saying it to her peers (teenagers/young adults). There's a lot of pressure on dh's side of the family to ma'am/sir an adult if you are a child.

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This brings up a question. I'm curious, are any of the folks not from the South having people from the South who move into your areas pressuring you to start using "ma'am/sir" or actively chastising you or your children for not doing so, calling you rude, etc, or are they just using it themselves? I've never lived anywhere else, so I have no experience with this. I've had quite a number of folks move here from other places and try to pressure people who live here into not using the terms, going far beyond just noting the difference to actively criticizing.

 

I lived in Cali and I live in the South now. When I lived in CA I never met a Southerner I guess lol. It never came up.

 

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Couple people have mentioned it is the term used for higher-ranking figures like doctors and professors as well as for police officers. People with whom you are deliberately showing deference.  

 

I have used ma'am that way with elderly people or when time is urgent ("Ma'am, you dropped your wallet!" as someone is about to walk out they door).

 

I recently moved, and the movers called me ma'am several times. They also profusely thanked me, multiple times, for offering them a case of bottled water (which is obviously less than $5). And they asked permission to use my bathroom.  

 

Nothing wrong with any of that. But - it is codified contact where you could diagram rank  / social role.

 

Thanks, I wondered if that was what you meant. If I understand you correctly, you see these terms as inherently used only by those of lower rank/power/social role to those of higher rank/power/social role?

 

So how would you diagram the fact that I and others are telling you we regularly say "ma'am" or "sir" to the teenager at the drive-through window, the waitress, the janitor, or a random fellow customer of my same age and apparent socioeconomic and educational class in a store?  By using the terms I am indeed showing deference to those people because they are deserving of respect as fellow human beings, not because of their social position or power over me, the same respect I show when I say them to the doctor, police officer, or professor. I am speaking here specifically of how the terms are used by Southerners in the South (at least in my area and experience as a native Southerner), since you referred to them specifically as Southern quirks, not how they may be used in other areas of the country or by those from such areas.

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Polite, friendly, holding doors - yes, that is universal in my experience.

Ma'am and Sir - no, that is definitely a Southern idiosyncrasy.

Yes,this.

Total northerner here and I hate being called ma'am. It makes me feel old.

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In my home town, women are called 'My lover', as in 'All right, my lover?'  It doesn't have any connection to the other meaning of 'lover', as far as I know.  It's just a term of affection, but used to all.

 

I almost spat out my drink when I saw that.  I reminded me of this SNL skit. 

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I have an idea on opening doors or holding them open.  There is always a line between where you will and won't hold open or open a door for someone.  Everywhere if someone is 30 feet away you do NOT hold the door open.   Everywhere (probably) you DO hold the door open if otherwise would slam it in their face.  

 

I think that in the South the line is a little more generous on door opening.  

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I lived in Cali and I live in the South now. When I lived in CA I never met a Southerner I guess lol. It never came up.

 

 

I can believe it. My cousins who lived in Los Angeles would come to visit when I was a child and teen, and they liked to call their friends back in California and have us talk on the phone. We were quite the oddity, I suppose, similar to the way that I really thought a Bronx accent was something made up for the movies until a girl from there moved into the area and was in class with me in high school. :) 

We had very little experience of folks from other regions in our town until the 1980s--most families who lived there had been there for generations.

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I don't think he's exaggerating.

 

I agree with the pp that said holding doors is universal. The ma'am/sir thing is more specific to areas.

 

I still get nervous to use people's first names sometimes!! Because it is so common to add "Miss/Ms" to a FIRST NAME. Mostly I think this is for children but I hear it in other cases as well.

 

Dh does one thing that drives me crazy. He will say "ma'am" or "sir" to our children sometimes. I say no no no... it is for someone older than you. A younger coworker used to ma'am everyone at work! I thought it was ridiculous since this meant saying it to her peers (teenagers/young adults). There's a lot of pressure on dh's side of the family to ma'am/sir an adult if you are a child.

 

It's okay, I am pretty sure the Southern language police won't take him away for that. ;) As a native Southerner, I say it to those older/younger/same age, doesn't matter.

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Since we've moved around so much I can tell you he's not exaggerating; in fact up North if your DH forgets to not say Ma'am or Sir, you'll usually get a military discount without asking for it, especially if you are in an area with a base.

 

I've noticed in the North I get doors held open for me as often as in the South IF I am wearing a dress or a skirt and have makeup done.

 

 

As far as racism, I think it's more overt in the South, but worse and more covert in the North.  I've been pulled over for having a black co-worker in the car with me in the North, but in the South helping a stranded coworker would be expected, regardless of race.

 

There are HUGE cultural differences otherwise though, that are harder to define. I usually feel rude and self-centered in the South, and too friendly in the North.  And while having some understanding of passive-aggressive conversations (and social skills in general) is required in the South, the same skills help a great deal anywhere. Not taking passive-aggressive comments personally is 90% of surviving the popular crowd in high school, or "mean girls" in the office at any age, or in any location.

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It's okay, I am pretty sure the Southern language police won't take him away for that. ;) As a native Southerner, I say it to those older/younger/same age, doesn't matter.

 

I'm going to second this. You start getting ma'am's from other women about the same time you start wearing a bra, and sometimes younger, depending on if it's your aunt, trying to gently remind your half-yankee self to use the term more.

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Nope, he wasn't exaggerating.  The Ma'am and Sir thing really get a strange reaction in NY.  As a native New Yorker who has been  transplanted to southern Virginia for 20 years now, it still sounds strange to my ear.

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Where I live (middle of Indiana)---people will generally hold the door open behind them (as in keep a hand on it til you grab it), but won't hold it open for you to walk through and then they walk through. Ma'am/Sir isn't really heard here aside from the occassional person shouting "ma'am/sir you dropped your wallet" or whatever.

 

As far as chatting w/ store employees/wait staff--some do, some don't. I really don't chat--I'll say hello and thanks, but I don't like getting into conversations with random people, plus it just slows things down.

:iagree:  As you get into Southern Indiana people get more helpful, holding the door while your entire family goes through, they're chattier but still not a lot of ma'am's/sir compared to the South.  

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Sir or Ma'am as an insult is probably related to the service sector, where "Ma'am" is kind of a euphemism for something cruder, as in "Ma'am, please stop -- you're making a scene."

 

Certain types of small-town politeness don't scale up very well. A friendly hello to every person you meet may be fine when you see maybe a dozen people all day, but not when you see 12,000. In large cities, politeness is more about ignoring one another to help others lessen the claustrophobia of there always being people in their personal space.

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I don't think he's exaggerating.

 

I agree with the pp that said holding doors is universal. The ma'am/sir thing is more specific to areas.

 

I still get nervous to use people's first names sometimes!! Because it is so common to add "Miss/Ms" to a FIRST NAME. Mostly I think this is for children but I hear it in other cases as well.

 

Dh does one thing that drives me crazy. He will say "ma'am" or "sir" to our children sometimes. I say no no no... it is for someone older than you. A younger coworker used to ma'am everyone at work! I thought it was ridiculous since this meant saying it to her peers (teenagers/young adults). There's a lot of pressure on dh's side of the family to ma'am/sir an adult if you are a child.

 

See in some areas it isn't just for people older than you. I use it with my kids, I use it with the 18 year old check out boy at the grocery store, etc. Nothing to do with age at all. It's just like the word "please", something you add to make your conversation be more polite. If the word please would be appropriate, than so is  Sir/Ma'am. 

 

I tell my kids "thank you, sir/ma'am" probably a dozen times a day. 

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I'm going to second this. You start getting ma'am's from other women about the same time you start wearing a bra, and sometimes younger, depending on if it's your aunt, trying to gently remind your half-yankee self to use the term more.

 

LOL! Yup! I admit that's kind of why I use it with my kids, to hope it wears on of them. In Florida we have enough northerners it isn't expected, but I still would prefer they use it at least some of the time, and definitely with strangers. 

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I do the door thing here in NYC but the chatting totally freaks me out. Esp when they're commenting on my groceries "that yogurt is SO good" like I need confidence in my dairy choices. I don't do small talk though...so when I do go to (say) Indiana I mostly hide in the car or appear rude.

 

I just commented on somebody's yogurt last week.  I never thought that people would think it was weird.  In my defense the lady was holding two different kinds looking like she couldn't make a decision.  I commented that we had tried both and liked xyz because it was less tangy.  It never would have occurred to me that people didn't like this.  I was trying to be nice AND get her to make a decision and get out of the way so I could get my yogurt.

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Yeah, I'm pretty stunned by this too.   Are people really so ignorant of different customs? 

 

Calling someone ma'am or sir where I grew up was considered rude unless you were talking to the elderly. It was considered sarcastic, even if you didn't say it with a sarcastic voice. It meant you were intentionally being disrespectful. And yes, I guess we were all just ignorant where I grew up if that's how you define ignorance. The new student I mentioned above, who got in trouble for calling the teacher ma'am, is someone I thought was truly being rude to the teacher. Or perhaps you think she was ignorant for not knowing not to do that? Not until I moved to the south did I realize differently. I actually had a pretty funny conversation with same student at a high school reunion about 20 years ago, when we'd been out a few years and I'd been in the south for a few years.

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Sir or Ma'am as an insult is probably related to the service sector, where "Ma'am" is kind of a euphemism for something cruder, as in "Ma'am, please stop -- you're making a scene."

 

Certain types of small-town politeness don't scale up very well. A friendly hello to every person you meet may be fine when you see maybe a dozen people all day, but not when you see 12,000. In large cities, politeness is more about ignoring one another to help others lessen the claustrophobia of there always being people in their personal space.

 

I think that's one way to use it as an insult, but there are some others.  One is that it can be a kind of reverse snobishness or classism. "I;m just a regular working guy and I'll pay lip service to your social rank but we all know what I really feel about your sort".

 

When I was in the army once I had a jon driving around some big-wigs, and there was an older veteran working a security position where we were - very much an in the ranks working class sort of fellow.  He was always super on the ball with all the outward evidences of respect for higher rank officers - salting, sirs, and all just perfectly done at all times.  But when it was just me - well, he hated, hated officers, had not an ounce of respect for them, would never have socialized with them or agreed to take a commission.  It was very much tied into a kind of class hatred, which here in Canada I've only really seen much in older military people from the ranks or older NCOs.

 

All the saluting and deference was actually meant to be an insult, not a mark of respect at all.

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Nope, he wasn't exaggerating.  The Ma'am and Sir thing really get a strange reaction in NY.  As a native New Yorker who has been  transplanted to southern Virginia for 20 years now, it still sounds strange to my ear.

 

Do you here it hear? I think you're close to me. I haven't been called ma'am since I moved here. Refreshing, for me, at least. I do see more formality, though, in some ways. Less chitchatting in the grocery store than in TN, AL, or GA.

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Calling someone ma'am or sir where I grew up was considered rude unless you were talking to the elderly. It was considered sarcastic, even if you didn't say it with a sarcastic voice. It meant you were intentionally being disrespectful. And yes, I guess we were all just ignorant where I grew up if that's how you define ignorance. The new student I mentioned above, who got in trouble for calling the teacher ma'am, is someone I thought was truly being rude to the teacher. Or perhaps you think she was ignorant for not knowing not to do that? Not until I moved to the south did I realize differently. I actually had a pretty funny conversation with same student at a high school reunion about 20 years ago, when we'd been out a few years and I'd been in the south for a few years.

 

I would expect that if a person was using offensive language, such as a new kid in school using the term "ma'am" inappropriately, the teacher would explain to the child that it was not an appropriate term - and why it shouldn't be used.  Of course if the child persisted willfully (not innocently out of habit), there should be consequences.  But I would think the teacher would understand that a kid coming from another part of the country might not know that.  I'd expect a little grace to be extended.  

 

But I wasn't responding to that specific case anyway.  I was responding to the general idea of people being offended by terms like "ma'am" when it seems easy enough for people to understand that not everyone in the entire US (or world) does things, or uses words, in the same way.  

 

For some reason now I'm thinking of To Kill a Mockingbird and poor Walter Cunningham pouring syrup on his ham dinner. 

 

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I just commented on somebody's yogurt last week.  I never thought that people would think it was weird.  In my defense the lady was holding two different kinds looking like she couldn't make a decision.  I commented that we had tried both and liked xyz because it was less tangy.  It never would have occurred to me that people didn't like this.  I was trying to be nice AND get her to make a decision and get out of the way so I could get my yogurt.

 

I would have appreciated it :)

 

I comment on things people are picking up at the grocery store all the time :)

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I would expect that if a person was using offensive language, such as a new kid in school using the term "ma'am" inappropriately, the teacher would explain to the child that it was not an appropriate term - and why it shouldn't be used.  Of course if the child persisted willfully (not innocently out of habit), there should be consequences.  But I would think the teacher would understand that a kid coming from another part of the country might not know that.  I'd expect a little grace to be extended.  

 

But I wasn't responding to that specific case anyway.  I was responding to the general idea of people being offended by terms like "ma'am" when it seems easy enough for people to understand that not everyone in the entire US (or world) does things, or uses words, in the same way.  

 

For some reason now I'm thinking of To Kill a Mockingbird and poor Walter Cunningham pouring syrup on his ham dinner. 

 

 

Every time she addressed the teacher, she would call her ma'am. And the teacher would tell her not to do so, it was rude. The teacher told the little girl several times to stop calling her ma'am before she sent the child to the principal's office, because she would not stop. I don't think the teacher knew at the time that the child thought she was being polite. But she gave her grace the first few times.

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