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February 03, 2012


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Jemmy Hope

Where I live it's still OK for to call a person of the opposite sex 'love', though younger people don't use the word. They call everyone 'mate' - parents to children, husbands to wives. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that schoolkids address their teachers with the honorific.


A similar scenario exists in parts of the American South, where one can still hear women and men called "Hon, honey, love, sweetie" and so forth by the opposite sex. The terms seem to be used there by both sexes, and also seem more acceptable in rural areas.

Dealing with that clash of cultures becomes difficult when one is managing a business located in both Northern and Southern regions, because here in the North, those terms are taboo in the business world, at least in large corporations.

I do agree that such terms take on a very different negative character when used by a manager to a subordinate.

Marc Leavit

The terms of address commonly used in the US include: "Hon," "dear," and "sweetie." among others. The problem with their use is often situational. When a young person calls an older person (male or female)"hon'," it is often taken as condescending; when an older person calls a younger person "hon," it is often seen as patronizing. "Sir" and ma'am are the safe default choices.

Virtual Linguist

Thanks for those comments. There seem to be a lot of similarities between UK and US.

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