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Æthelthryth the Texan

North/south behaviors. Is this true?

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I think Master for boys was never really as established as a usage as some other titles, and seems to have pretty much died out before even the 50s.

 

Earlier it was sometimes used for men, in some positions.

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People swear at their kids??? 

 

Yes, sometimes people swear at their kids in public here.  It's not very often but I've seen it a few times.  I've also seen kids swear at their parents, but again, not very often. 

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In Southern California, I find swearing to be pretty normal. I know that I have to make an effort not to swear because it's so much a part of everyday speech. I've worked all over the country, and swearing was common in the Army, and in both law and investment banking.

 

And, yes, I have sworn at my kids in frustration before.

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Random question- how do people near you behave in the grocery store aisles? I don't mean do they chat but how do they actually behave. When I lived in the Midwest I was shocked that people stopped their carts and would stand looking at their options in the middle of the aisle and didn't move out of the way when others came down the aisle. It seemed so rude to me but everyone seemed to take it as normal. Here most people will quickly move their carts and themselves if they left them in the middle so others can pass.

 

I've lived in the same general area within Texas for many years, and I've noticed major variations in this.   It is like there is micro-societies.  

 

I lived in an area that was mostly people that were originally Yankees.   It was shocking and stressful at the Grocery store.  People would leave their cart in the middle of the aisle, and then be annoyed at you when you needed to get past them.  There was many "Excuse you" spoken, and ugly looks for existing.   I started shopping at a Mexican grocery store that was a little out of my way, but the customers were nice.  Sometimes people people still left a cart in the middle, but they felt bad if it interfered with someone.  When I lived in an upper middle class area, people in the grocery store mostly pretended that others didn't exist, but they tried to not bother people also.   Now I live in a rural small town and people are so incredibly nice.   Of course, that is probably due to the small town-ness.  That lady you just upset might be your kids teacher next year.  

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Reading this thread has pretty much cemented my view that 'ma'am' is a Southern quirk.  Not a bad one.  Just a distinctively regional one.

 

In Southern California, I find swearing to be pretty normal. I know that I have to make an effort not to swear because it's so much a part of everyday speech. I've worked all over the country, and swearing was common in the Army, and in both law and investment banking.

And, yes, I have sworn at my kids in frustration before.

 

My six year old said the other day "Where the hell is the dog?" 

I corrected him, but, didn't punish.  Said something like: sometimes grownups use that language, just like sometimes grownups drink wine.   Not OK for kids in this house.

 

I don't know anyone who swears at their kids.

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I've lived in the Midwest, the Northeast, the west, and now, the South. I am a friendly, kind person who opens doors, compliments strangers, especially in a service setting, chats with strangers sometimes, and offers a kind word when I see a struggling parent of crazy kids (I'm usually that struggling mother, so this is important to me). I invite people over for dinner or game night. I do favors for neighbors without expecting anything in return.

 

I hate Ma'am. To my Midwestern ears, it's an insult. I don't take offense because I know it's regional politeness, but I don't like it. I can't decide whether to teach my kids to use it or not because we'll likely move again...will they then be stuck with a phrase that makes them seem rude to much of the country? Like the OP's husband? But I know the people here think my kids are rude because they don't say it.

 

I actually dread going to the grocery store here because every single person I pass will say hello to me and ask how I am. I have three children talking my ear off, so I already can't concentrate. Now I have to acknowledge strangers. It's overwhelming.

 

I agree with upthread posters that the friendliest people I meet are usually people who have moved a lot. In the areas I've lived where everyone is from that town/city, it's nearly impossible to make true friends. I lived in western NY for 7 years and left with exactly 2 friends despite working hard to connect with people. No one needed new friends because they had family/lifelong friends. I lived in a very transient city in the west for less than 4 years and left with a pile of friends who would do anything for each other. But no one was from there, so everyone was always looking for new friends. My own hometown is very insular. Again, everyone is from there, so new people can't connect.

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I've lived in the Midwest, the Northeast, the west, and now, the South. I am a friendly, kind person who opens doors, compliments strangers, especially in a service setting, chats with strangers sometimes, and offers a kind word when I see a struggling parent of crazy kids (I'm usually that struggling mother, so this is important to me). I invite people over for dinner or game night. I do favors for neighbors without expecting anything in return.

...

I agree with upthread posters that the friendliest people I meet are usually people who have moved a lot. In the areas I've lived where everyone is from that town/city, it's nearly impossible to make true friends. I lived in western NY for 7 years and left with exactly 2 friends despite working hard to connect with people. No one needed new friends because they had family/lifelong friends. I lived in a very transient city in the west for less than 4 years and left with a pile of friends who would do anything for each other. But no one was from there, so everyone was always looking for new friends. My own hometown is very insular. Again, everyone is from there, so new people can't connect.[/

Agree!!!!!

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A girl from the south moved to our area in the Midatlantic region when I was in junior high. She initially got in trouble for saying, "Yes, sir," to a teacher. It was taken as sarcasm. So no, people in other regions don't habitually address others as ma'am or sir. 

 

We did hold doors and people still do in that area. 

 

I live in the South now. When I first moved here, I was thought rude for not saying "Ma'am" and "Sir." I eventually caught on to the local customs. 

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I don't know anyone who swears at their kids.

 

Unless they mean, "Damn it. Who yanked open the cupboard door and broke it, yet again?"  Or, "Where the hell is my brand new pen that I put right here on my desk and told no one to touch?"

 

If that's what is meant by swearing at your kids, I'm guilty.  It usually happens towards the end of a stressful day.  

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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.

 

That's funny!  Has rather a different connotation here and would certainly cause some raised eyebrows. 

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Unless they mean, "Damn it. Who yanked open the cupboard door and broke it, yet again?"  Or, "Where the hell is my brand new pen that I put right here on my desk and told no one to touch?"

 

If that's what is meant by swearing at your kids, I'm guilty.  It usually happens towards the end of a stressful day.  

 

I never curse in conversation or say anything worse than this, but I must admit I have let, "What in the hell were you THINKING?" come forth from my lips. 

 

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Reading this thread has pretty much cemented my view that 'ma'am' is a Southern quirk.  Not a bad one.  Just a distinctively regional one.

 

 

My six year old said the other day "Where the hell is the dog?" 

I corrected him, but, didn't punish.  Said something like: sometimes grownups use that language, just like sometimes grownups drink wine.   Not OK for kids in this house.

 

I don't know anyone who swears at their kids.

Laughing at the thought of a 6 year old saying that. 

 

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One thing that is striking me as I read through this thread is how many of the posters who are not southern/do not say "sir" or "ma'am" as habit are admitting that when they are in the south, they purposefully try to withhold themselves and their children from saying it.  Knowing you will be offending someone, you do it anyway.  

Not where my sister lives in Alabama. It is very much an age thing. Kids don't call other kids sir or ma'am but they would get correctly instantly if they didn't call an adult those titles. Even my sister who is almost 40 would be considered rude if she didn't use those titles to someone the next generation up.

I find it ridiculous not because there is anything wrong with those titles but because of the judgment against those who don't say it. I'm just a rude Yankee down there.

Why is it "ridiculous" for the culture you are visiting to be surprised you don't address the older generation respectfully?  As respectful is understood in that region?

Is it "ridiculous" for other regions of the U.S. to be offended when addressed thus? If I, as a southener who addresses people with titles, KNEW I was offending someone, I would quit.

 

 When I attempt Spanish, I am careful to use "usted" rather than "tu" with strangers.  Why? Because I know it is a respectful thing to do. 

A few posters have mentioned it is okay in martial arts class--why there? 

 

There are other examples--from all over the world.  So why are some of you so adamant that you are right and need not change to fit in with the custom of the area?  

 

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Well, whippoorwill, I will say that if I see somebody around who clearly doesn't understand local custom - for example, a tourist who walks on the left of the sidewalk instead of the right and then stops dead rather than moving out of pedestrian traffic - I don't judge them as being stupid and rude. I walk around them or tell them as politely as I can manage that they need to let others by. (It's just like driving! Stay in your lane and DO NOT COME TO A DEAD HALT.)

 

If you're not from the South, but you're living there, people ought to be able to tell when you open your mouth. Then they ought to cut you a little slack for not being perfect with local customs.

 

Speaking of local customs, people on this forum generally don't post on threads if the last post was over a month ago. It's not a hard and fast rule, but it can get a little confusing if you find yourself replying to yourself because you don't remember what you said before! Or sometimes everybody just got settled down over an exciting discussion and now they're all tired of getting riled up again.

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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.

That makes me sad...I am remembering the multi-cultural sensitivity training I went through as a public-school teacher.  I was told Hispanic children are not to look up at the teacher/parent when being reprimanded, as it would appear defiant.  However, many Caucasian teachers expect students to look at them to show proper attention.  The Hispanic children would look down (out of deference) but were interpreted as defiant, because the teachers would say, "Look at me when I am talking to you."  We don't break the habits of years because someone else tells us to.  

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One thing that is striking me as I read through this thread is how many of the posters who are not southern/do not say "sir" or "ma'am" as habit are admitting that when they are in the south, they purposefully try to withhold themselves and their children from saying it. Knowing you will be offending someone, you do it anyway.

Why is it "ridiculous" for the culture you are visiting to be surprised you don't address the older generation respectfully? As respectful is understood in that region?

Is it "ridiculous" for other regions of the U.S. to be offended when addressed thus? If I, as a southener who addresses people with titles, KNEW I was offending someone, I would quit.

 

When I attempt Spanish, I am careful to use "usted" rather than "tu" with strangers. Why? Because I know it is a respectful thing to do.

A few posters have mentioned it is okay in martial arts class--why there?

 

There are other examples--from all over the world. So why are some of you so adamant that you are right and need not change to fit in with the custom of the area?

I have lived in the south for 17 years. I don't say it and I have not taught my children to say it. It's not really common in our area but is common where dh grew up and where his family still lives. His family expects it. The main reason I have not taught them to say it even though his family expects it is twofold. One, the idea that it shows respect rings hollow to me. Second, it seems rather debasing to the person who utters it.

 

I've never found that people are offended by someone not saying it. I think most people would find that a little extreme.

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Ack! I just noticed this is an old thread. OP can ignore me. Sorry.

 

I was talking to someone recently who had a temporary relocation of 9 months from here (Houston, TX-ish) to a state way up north. He called me ma'am and we were joking around that he was making me feel old and he started telling me that people up north reacted to him addressing most people as ma'am or sir, or opening doors for people at stores almost as if he were from another planet. He said he got asked where he was from a LOT when he did these things, or if he was in the military. I found that hard to believe as to be honest, that seems to be the way more people I know around here act than do not. Is mean that's just how it is *most* of the time. Not 100% of people do, but I would say most. You hold the door open at a store/public place for people coming in or out around you, you address people you aren't close with- or at a minimum, people clearly older than yourself- as sir or ma'am in most day to day encounters, you chat with waitstaff or store employees, and you just generally be polite. Is this seriously a regional thing? I am not a well traveled person so I might be missing the obvious, but I felt like this guy HAD to be exaggerating. Is he pulling my leg or was maybe in an odd little pocket town or do people really have different norms on this stuff as you get north of the hot humid states?

 

I've spent half my life in the south, half in the north, and a 4-year stint in the military. I do the friendly chatter, holding doors, ma'am /sir thing daily. It's just my habit. Not once have I been asked where I'm from or treated like an alien over it. People who live in diverse populations are adapted to a wide range of behaviors and can have different types of interactions throughout the day without labeling 'different from me' as 'rude.'

 

I'm guessing your friend was experiencing a little culture shock which amplified the experience for him. When you spend your time in a very homogeneous population it can be jarring to discover how few universal truths there really are. Also, if your friend has an accent, that will catch plenty of "where are you from"s. My accent is almost gone. My siblings retained theirs. I can be WITH them and people will ask where they are from and not me.

Edited by KungFuPanda
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That makes me sad...I am remembering the multi-cultural sensitivity training I went through as a public-school teacher.  I was told Hispanic children are not to look up at the teacher/parent when being reprimanded, as it would appear defiant.  However, many Caucasian teachers expect students to look at them to show proper attention.  The Hispanic children would look down (out of deference) but were interpreted as defiant, because the teachers would say, "Look at me when I am talking to you."  We don't break the habits of years because someone else tells us to.  

 

Keep in mind that this was in the 1970s, people were less transient then. The teacher simply didn't know this was the custom where this child came from.

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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.

 

 

I don't think many adults use Sir/Ma'am it for all members of the older generation, and mostly it is used in response to questions (yes Sir/no Ma'am). For example, we don't as often use it at work with older coworkers. It would be uncommon to hear a 45 year old woman consistently answer her 65 year old housekeeper with 'ma'am.' I guess there can be a rank based distinction here, which is troublesome.

 

However, kids use Sir/Ma'am for all adults. They don't get away with using it for the doctor but not the maid. I have gotten used to it, but I used to find myself startled when I asked a child a question and he/she replied 'yes' or 'no' without the 'Ma'am.' I am used to it now and understand it's about culture and not character.

 

But those of you elsewhere, you do use these words when you don't know someone and have to address them, right? As in, "Excuse me Ma'am, you dropped your keys." Or "Sir, you can not park here, they will ticket you."

Edited by Danestress

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But those of you elsewhere, you do use these words when you don't know someone and have to address them, right? As in, "Excuse me Ma'am, you dropped your keys." Or "Sir, you can not park here, they will ticket you."

 

In the UK, we would normally just say, 'Excuse me, you dropped your keys' or 'I'm sorry, you can't park there or you'll get a ticket'.  We just don't use sir and ma'am.

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