Archive for the ‘Address terms’ Category

“What you done, sunshine, is criminal damage”

August 21, 2016

The 1975 quotation (in Green’s Dictionary of Slang) is from a (British working-class) policeman, who “levelled a finger at” a man and made this accusation. My interest here is in the address term sunshine, which has become familiar to me though British (occasionally Canadian) police procedural tv shows, where the cops (or private detectives) often use this form of address, aggressively, to male suspects. From the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (ed. Tom Dalzell & Terry Victor, 2015), p. 2192:

used as a form of address, often patronizing with an underlying note of disapproval or threat UK, 1972

A (very natural) extension of literal sunshine to ‘cheerfulness, happiness’ has been around for some time, as has the extension to someone who exhibits or elicits cheerfulness or happiness, in both referential and vocative uses. Then, the address term sunshine (like any other) can be used sarcastically, aggressively, or truculently, but the conventionalization of such uses specifically in British (and not American) English, for use to men by men, especially by official authorities, is yet a further development, one that I hadn’t experienced until I got into modern police procedurals, in books and on tv.

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Morning name: The Right Honourable The Lord Rees-Mogg

August 16, 2016

… as Baron Rees-Mogg of Hinton Blewitt was to be properly addressed (from 1988 until his death in 2012). Before that, he was just William Rees-Mogg, of The Times:

  (#1)

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guv

July 21, 2016

I’m a fan of the ITV police procedural series Midsomer Murders and also a sometime scholar of address terms, so my ears perked up in S16 E1 of the show, in which DS Charlie Nelson (N), played by Gwilym Lee, joins DI John Barnaby (B), played by Neil Dudgeon, for their first case together and B tells N to investigate recording devices at the scene of the murder. Then:

N: I’m on to that, guv.

B: I’m sure this is the start of a successful working relationship, DS Nelson, but it’ll go a lot more smoothly if you don’t call me “guv”.

N: Sir.

B objects to N’s guv ‘sir’ (used for a boss). B sees it as inappropriately informal: too matey. B is middle class, while N is depicted as of working class origins — guv is notably working class  — and also quite informal in his dress and approach to social relations. So N probably sees guv as respectful within his bounds of class and formality (though he understands how to use sir), but for B it’s doubly out of bounds; it’s hard to imagine B ever using guv to anyone, except playfully.

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Bad bro days

April 28, 2016

The story of the address term bro in relatively recent years begins with its use by black men to black men, roughly (but not exactly) like the widely used American buddy — a term of male affiliation. It then spread into the wider culture, serving as a mark of male solidarity. This is what I called in a 4/12/16 posting “good”, positive, bro. But male solidarity tends to come with a dark side: rejection of anything perceived as feminine, played out as sturdy misogyny and homo-hatred in general; and the elevation of boys’ clubs (formed for whatever reasons) to boys-only clubs, aggressively hostile to women and to men perceived as inferior. When these guys use bro to address (or refer to) one another, then we’ve got what I called “bad”, negative, bro.

Regular use of bad bro between men in groups, for instance by fraternity boys and so-called brogrammers, has led to a steady pejoration of the term for people outside those male groups; bro is now a tainted term for many people, calling up unpleasant images of aggressive masculinity.

A brief review of these matters on this blog, then two recent entries in the conversation. And a cartoon too!

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Lower bangs higher

January 28, 2016

(Some genuine language stuff in here, but in the context of serious man-man sex described in very plain language, so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

On the 25th, this ad (from a gay porn aggregation service using the name Genuine Lust), under the heading “Crossed Swords”, referring both to weapons and to penises:

(#1)

This is serious role reversal, on (at least) three fronts: class, status, and race/ethnicity. Meanwhile, the text (in the dialogue above, and in some ad copy) is both bizarre and rife with errors (of various kinds) in English. The ad copy:

Beautiful themed movies with only the best actors shot with the best cameras the humanity ever known. Watch these sirs.

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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.

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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.

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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 symbols; a Rhymes With Orange on case-marking of pronouns with than; and a Zippy reviving Doggie Diner.

(#1)

(#2)

(#3)

(#4)

One by one …

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Tumble Inn, Stan

August 14, 2014

Today’s Zippy:

(#1)

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

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