Archive for the ‘Address terms’ Category

Prefix + FN

November 14, 2015

In yesterday’s posting on “Address terms in service encounters”, I looked at an unfortunate confluence of two patterns of vocatives: one in address terms used to me by some Hispanic servers at the restaurant Reposado in Palo Alto (in particular, the address term Mr. Arnold), and one in address terms used by slaves to their masters in plantation days (in particular the address form Mr. FN, as in Mr. Simon used by slaves to address their master Simon Legree) and (historically, a continuation of the slave practice to post-slavery contexts, but still involving blacks addressing whites) by employees in some parts of the South to their employers (again, the address form Mr. FN, as in Mr. Keene used by a stableman to address his employer Keene Daingerfield in Lexington KY a couple generations ago). The two address forms are formally identical, and both are used by speakers providing a service to the addressee, but the sociocultural contexts are very different, and the (inadvertent) echo of slave usage in a Mexican restaurant is unpleasant.

Now it turns out that Prefix (Mr./Miss) + FN turns up in a number of circumstances where providing services is not at issue, including some in which the form is not at root a vocative, but functions instead as a kind of professional name, which can be used referentially or vocatively. In these contexts, race is not in the mix, and there are no unfortunate echoes of slavery. Get ready for teachers of young children, psychics, and male hairdressers.


Address terms in service encounters

November 13, 2015

A Bizarro from long ago (May 25th), with a groan-worthy pun on senior and señor (roughly ‘Mr.’ in referential use):

Now some words about referential vs. vocative uses of names (Arnold Zwicky, Arnold, Zwicky, Mr. Arnold, Mr. Zwicky, Prof. Zwicky) and prefixes (like Mister or Professor on their own), both in English and Spanish, all this as a preface to some discussion of address terms in service encounters, where servers have a complex task in balancing the desire to show respect to the customer and the desire to express closeness and friendliness.


The unflappable waitress

July 23, 2015

Today’s Bizarro:

Hun / hon.

The informal clipped form hon (for honey) as a term of address is stereotypically used, along with other pet names like the full honey, sweetie, dear(ie), and doll, by waitresses to their customers, in addition to the use of these as terms of endearment to genuine intimates. Many customers find the usage disrespectful and insulting, expressing intimacy in a situation where they see that deference to authority is called for.

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Don Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

Monday quartet

November 10, 2014

Four varied cartoons in this morning’s crop: a Zits on address terms; a Scenes From a Multiverse on ; a Rhymes With Orange on case-marking of pronouns with than; and a Zippy reviving Doggie Diner.





One by one …


Tumble Inn, Stan

August 14, 2014

Today’s Zippy:


There’s the diner, and there’s the address term Stan.



April 14, 2013

Discussion of a brief note I posted here a couple of days ago, on boss as an address term, brings up two points; the need to clarify what kind of address term is at issue in this case; and the difficulty of gauging the sociolinguistic status of some usage, when all you have to go on is your own experience.


Ducati and Ares

April 12, 2013

(Following up on an account of the gay porn flick Close Up on AZBlogX, a posting about the first scene of the film, involving Trenton Ducati and Jessy Ares — in part about the use of language in this encounter and in part about the the assignment of roles — what I’ve called b vs. t — in this encounter. This is a close call: usually my postings analyzing the action in porn flicks go on AZBlogX, but in this case I thought there might be enough language-related stuff to put it on this blog. You should understand that there’s a lot of plainly described gay sex in this posting, though no photos — they’re already on AZBlogX — so you might want to pass.)


Brief notice: boss 4/12/13

April 12, 2013

For some time now, I’ve noticed a pattern of address term usage in local restaurants and cafes (three of them): I am addressed by servers and other employees there as boss. The speakers are all Hispanic men, younger than me (I’ve never gotten boss from anyone else; I don’t have employees of my own); and of course it’s crucial that I’m male; and it might be relevant that I’m a regular customer in all three places; and it might be relevant that the atmosphere of all three places is informal. (Some of these men sometimes address me as Arnold, but other times as boss.)

I assume that this is a resolution of a puzzle in social relations: sir would be the standard address term in service contexts, but seems far too formal and distancing given the social situation in these three places; and Arnold might seem too intimate on some occasions; so what to use instead?

What I don’t know is where boss (said with a friendly, even jocular tone) comes from. And why just Hispanic men? (Non-Hispanic and female servers seem always to opt for first names in such places; if they don’t know them already, they find them out and then memorize them.)

(Address terms are a long-standing interest of mine. Discussion of pal and sport here, boy here, and medical address terms here.)

Data points: address terms 11/17/10

November 17, 2010

Two address terms that caught my ear recently because they struck me as no longer widely in use:

(1) pal: in an episode of the 50s tv serial Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (Youtube for this episode here, Tom Corbett website here), one of the crew members to another, on the radio: “Ok, pal, she’s all yours” (referring to the next rocket firing).

(2) sport: in one episode of the gay porn film Arcade on Route 9 (Joe Gage for Titan Media) an older trucker (Ken Mack) hooks up with a young farmboy (Cole Ryan) and introduces him to the ways of gay sex, addressing him as “sport” throughout the encounter, as in a reference to “your big stiff dirty-boy boner; I’m here for you, sport”. (The farmboy mostly addresses the trucker as “sir”, leading to this weird bit of sex talk: “Suck my fuckin’ hard boner, sir”.)



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