Author Topic: What to call people  (Read 4237 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

darkprincess

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 397
What to call people
« on: August 20, 2013, 01:32:02 PM »
This is partly due to the Grandparent thread in the family and children section and partly because a friend of mine had religious visitors at her door, and now I am wondering...

Many people have said that we should refer to people how they want to be called, but is this a hard and fast rule. What if someone is uncomfortable using the person's chosen name/title.

If your father's new wife, who is toxic, wants to be called "grandmother" by the grandchildren and wants you to call her "mom" is it rude not to comply?

My friend is the priestess of her coven, that is her religious title and she was an apprentice for two years before that, so some people say she earned the title. If it matters her career/job is related to her faith. She teachers a faith based yoga/meditation kind of thing. When Latter Day Saint Missionaries come to her door and introduce themselves using their titles "Elder" Last name, she introduces herself as "Priestess" Last Name. She does the same for Catholic priests "Father" and nuns "Sister." In fact she does this for anything concerning religion. If they all decided to be casual and instead refer to each other by their first names or even generic Mr and Mrs last name she will agree. Last week two missionaries were adamant that they were not going to call her "Priestess" but also would not agree to first names or Mr last name, yet they insisted that they still be referred to as "Elder." Do we have to use religious names or titles with people if we do not believe in the faith, what if the person disagrees with the faith, what if they find the faith offensive?

I bumped into my daughter's pediatrician at the gas station. We discussed the price of gas. I called her by her first name and she called me by my first name. If she insisted on being called doctor at the gas station am I rude not to.

A few years ago, My Aunt-in-law went on vacation for a week and as part of the paid vacation package she was "adopted" by a local tribe. I checked they aren't a recognized tribe and she is not suddenly native American, she did not legally change her name. Her tribal name is "smells like skunk." This is not the real name they gave her but it is just as bad. I have to think that she has been conned, but she is very sincere and wants to be Native American. She has decided that we need to now call her by that name. Her children now call her "Mother skunk," My brother calls her "Aunt skunk," and she corrects them to use her full name. I have attempted to not call her anything. When she is not around, everyone refers to her by her legal first name. Are we rude to not use her chosen name "smells like skunk."

Many elected officials should be referred to using honorifics, "Honorable," "Congressman," "Senator." If you have not been invited to refer to them in a more casual way are you rude to not call them by their title. If they go to the dentist should they both be referred to by their titles or just the dentist. What if the dentist comes to the capital to lobby can he introduce himself as Dr Last name but not to refer to the Senators as Senator Last Name. Many people do not use the title when they disagree with the political stance of the elected official.

I know someone who has their PhD in math. If he asked us all to refer to him as Dr Last name even when we are going out to dinner are we rude not to.

When I have been in this situation people insisting on the use of formal titles or different kinds of names I have usually insisted that they refer to me as Mrs Princess, I actually use my last name but maybe I should start insisting that everyone actually call me Mrs Princess. Is this retaliatory and rude.

It just seems odd that someone can decide what they want to to be called and we are rude for not using it even when we are uncomfortable with the title.

SamiHami

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3374
  • No! Iz mai catnip! You no can haz! YOU NO CAN HAZ!
Re: What to call people
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2013, 01:50:30 PM »
So we are looking at two different situations here; the use of titles and the use of names (or nicknames).

With titles, I think it's pretty easy. Dr., Senator, Miss/Mr./Mrs., it's hard to go wrong there. In your example of the pediatrician, I think since your relationship with her is strictly (I'm assuming here, I know) based on her capacity as a physician, I would have called her Dr., but I don't think it was a huge faux pas that you didn't, as she didn't address you as Mrs. Princess. I know my doctor socially, so when I see her professionally she is "Dr." but otherwise she is "Julie." But that's a different scenario.

With politicians, calling them by their title is showing respect for the office, if not the person. I would have to have true disdain for one to refer to them as Ms/Mr (as in Mr. Obama versus President Obama).

Your priestess friend was absolutely correct, I think. They wish to be called by their chosen title within their religion, but don't want to extend the same courtesy? Absolutely not. And their refusal to compromise with first or Mr Last Name would be a conversation ender. Their obvious complete lack of respect for the beliefs of others is appalling. I am not Catholic, but I still call the priests I know "father" because I respect them, even though I don't share their beliefs.

Your aunt sounds a little kooky, but if she wants to be called "smells like a skunk," there's no harm in it. If not doing so is going to upset her then why not just make her happy. It harms no one and pleases her, so where's the harm.

Finally, as for formality...yes, if someone is going to insist they be called "Mr. Jones" then I would prefer to be called Mrs. Hami. There is nothing wrong with either position; it again boils down to being called what one wants to be called. There's nothing retaliatory or rude about being called Mrs. if that is your choice, for whatever reason.

The only time I can recal being unwilling to call someone what they wanted was when I was a newlywed. My ILs would have liked for me to call them Mom & Dad, and I just cannot do this. I have parents. But they were cool about it and we just went with first names. Funny, though, toward the end of his life I found myself referring to FIL as Dad sometimes. But that was after 20 years of knowing him. So I guess if it is a title that hasn't been earned, I wouldn't call someone by it, but otherwise I think it's okay.

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

WillyNilly

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7490
  • Mmmmm, food
    • The World as I Taste It
Re: What to call people
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2013, 01:56:31 PM »
Well you have a lot of different types of titles going on!

I think for professional titles, when the person is conducting business related to their profession, their title should be used as default. So a Dr should be addressed as "Dr" at the office or in a hospital (even if on a break), but can be called by first name at the gas station. Same with "Father", "Sister", "Priestess" and "Elder" when they are specifically performing religious duties (although this can be murky as a person of the cloth might say they are always present as a person of the cloth and there is no separation for them between life and profession), this can also be murkied if the audience/person speaking does not want to be a party to the religious duties and they are not on church grounds (someone knocking on my door uninvited trying to convert me for example). Again politicians, while in the function of their office should be addressed by title, but at a social dinner or if they are a parent at their kid's school play, you needn't call them "Mayor" or "Congressman".

As for family titles, those are often considered "earned". I think if a person earns the right to be called some form of "grandma" they should get to choose what specific word they prefer (grandma, nana, gigi, gamma, abuela, etc), and likewise for all family titles. Actual relationship descriptors are not titles though, so no one needs to earn the descriptor "aunt" "father" "cousin" "grandmother" so long as those are the accurate terms for the relationship, nor does one need to use them if the relationship doesn't warrant usage of a title.

As for the situation of something like your aunt "Smells Like Skunk" I wouldn't consider that a title, but rather a nickname she's trying to adapt and force everyone to call her... and that becomes tricky. Because to a certain extent she should get to choose what she is called, but its very hard and can take years to establish a new name in the manner she is trying to do it.

LeveeWoman

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4207
Re: What to call people
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2013, 01:58:49 PM »
So we are looking at two different situations here; the use of titles and the use of names (or nicknames).

With titles, I think it's pretty easy. Dr., Senator, Miss/Mr./Mrs., it's hard to go wrong there. In your example of the pediatrician, I think since your relationship with her is strictly (I'm assuming here, I know) based on her capacity as a physician, I would have called her Dr., but I don't think it was a huge faux pas that you didn't, as she didn't address you as Mrs. Princess. I know my doctor socially, so when I see her professionally she is "Dr." but otherwise she is "Julie." But that's a different scenario.

With politicians, calling them by their title is showing respect for the office, if not the person. I would have to have true disdain for one to refer to them as Ms/Mr (as in Mr. Obama versus President Obama).

Your priestess friend was absolutely correct, I think. They wish to be called by their chosen title within their religion, but don't want to extend the same courtesy? Absolutely not. And their refusal to compromise with first or Mr Last Name would be a conversation ender. Their obvious complete lack of respect for the beliefs of others is appalling. I am not Catholic, but I still call the priests I know "father" because I respect them, even though I don't share their beliefs.

Your aunt sounds a little kooky, but if she wants to be called "smells like a skunk," there's no harm in it. If not doing so is going to upset her then why not just make her happy. It harms no one and pleases her, so where's the harm.

Finally, as for formality...yes, if someone is going to insist they be called "Mr. Jones" then I would prefer to be called Mrs. Hami. There is nothing wrong with either position; it again boils down to being called what one wants to be called. There's nothing retaliatory or rude about being called Mrs. if that is your choice, for whatever reason.

The only time I can recal being unwilling to call someone what they wanted was when I was a newlywed. My ILs would have liked for me to call them Mom & Dad, and I just cannot do this. I have parents. But they were cool about it and we just went with first names. Funny, though, toward the end of his life I found myself referring to FIL as Dad sometimes. But that was after 20 years of knowing him. So I guess if it is a title that hasn't been earned, I wouldn't call someone by it, but otherwise I think it's okay.


Newscasters routinely refer to presidents as "mister" and have been doing so for ages.

Hmmmmm

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6806
Re: What to call people
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2013, 01:59:43 PM »
1. I do not believe names like mother, aunt, grandmother can be forced. If you are uncomfortable using that form of address then you should not be forced to.

2. If one religious group does not recognize the title of another religious group, than neither should use titles. But I also wouldn't continue a convesation with someone who refused to use my stated title so it would be a moot point.

3. I think use of professional titles should be used when that person is acting in that profession but a less formal name can be used if you know them reasonably well in a non-professional manner. Same can be said for Mr/Ms. I know my DS's teacher very well, but in the classroom or at school, she is always Ms. Smith. Outside the school she is Joan. However I do not know her counselor well so she is always Ms. Jones.

4. For the aunt, I would put this one in the same category as someone deciding on a new nickname and asking the family to use it and I would comply.

5. If you are addressing a Senator in his capacity as a senator then the honorific should be used. If you've been told to call him Joe then you don't need to continue to call him Senator at the cocktail party or even throughout the remainder of the business meeting. The same would be said at the dentist. I would expect the Senator to be addressed that way unless he invited the staff to refer to him as Joe. However, it is OK to refer to him as Mr. X too. The dentist should be referred to as Dr. Dew unless he invites you to call him something else. 

6. With the PhD... If I would use the person's first name if they didn't have a PhD, then I wouldn't be calling them Dr. Little. So if the person was my professor or my friend's father, then I'd use the Dr if that is what they preferred. But if a co-worker or a social acquiantance, I would not be addressing them as Mr or Dr. unless we were still on a formal basis and they referred to me as Ms.

SamiHami

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3374
  • No! Iz mai catnip! You no can haz! YOU NO CAN HAZ!
Re: What to call people
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2013, 02:02:25 PM »
So we are looking at two different situations here; the use of titles and the use of names (or nicknames).

With titles, I think it's pretty easy. Dr., Senator, Miss/Mr./Mrs., it's hard to go wrong there. In your example of the pediatrician, I think since your relationship with her is strictly (I'm assuming here, I know) based on her capacity as a physician, I would have called her Dr., but I don't think it was a huge faux pas that you didn't, as she didn't address you as Mrs. Princess. I know my doctor socially, so when I see her professionally she is "Dr." but otherwise she is "Julie." But that's a different scenario.

With politicians, calling them by their title is showing respect for the office, if not the person. I would have to have true disdain for one to refer to them as Ms/Mr (as in Mr. Obama versus President Obama).

Your priestess friend was absolutely correct, I think. They wish to be called by their chosen title within their religion, but don't want to extend the same courtesy? Absolutely not. And their refusal to compromise with first or Mr Last Name would be a conversation ender. Their obvious complete lack of respect for the beliefs of others is appalling. I am not Catholic, but I still call the priests I know "father" because I respect them, even though I don't share their beliefs.

Your aunt sounds a little kooky, but if she wants to be called "smells like a skunk," there's no harm in it. If not doing so is going to upset her then why not just make her happy. It harms no one and pleases her, so where's the harm.

Finally, as for formality...yes, if someone is going to insist they be called "Mr. Jones" then I would prefer to be called Mrs. Hami. There is nothing wrong with either position; it again boils down to being called what one wants to be called. There's nothing retaliatory or rude about being called Mrs. if that is your choice, for whatever reason.

The only time I can recal being unwilling to call someone what they wanted was when I was a newlywed. My ILs would have liked for me to call them Mom & Dad, and I just cannot do this. I have parents. But they were cool about it and we just went with first names. Funny, though, toward the end of his life I found myself referring to FIL as Dad sometimes. But that was after 20 years of knowing him. So I guess if it is a title that hasn't been earned, I wouldn't call someone by it, but otherwise I think it's okay.


Newscasters routinely refer to presidents as "mister" and have been doing so for ages.

Well, that is true, point taken. But I have also seen instances in which it was used in the way I described. So perhaps that is a situational one.

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

AndreaBeth105

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 230
Re: What to call people
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 03:16:47 PM »
So we are looking at two different situations here; the use of titles and the use of names (or nicknames).

With titles, I think it's pretty easy. Dr., Senator, Miss/Mr./Mrs., it's hard to go wrong there. In your example of the pediatrician, I think since your relationship with her is strictly (I'm assuming here, I know) based on her capacity as a physician, I would have called her Dr., but I don't think it was a huge faux pas that you didn't, as she didn't address you as Mrs. Princess. I know my doctor socially, so when I see her professionally she is "Dr." but otherwise she is "Julie." But that's a different scenario.

With politicians, calling them by their title is showing respect for the office, if not the person. I would have to have true disdain for one to refer to them as Ms/Mr (as in Mr. Obama versus President Obama).

Your priestess friend was absolutely correct, I think. They wish to be called by their chosen title within their religion, but don't want to extend the same courtesy? Absolutely not. And their refusal to compromise with first or Mr Last Name would be a conversation ender. Their obvious complete lack of respect for the beliefs of others is appalling. I am not Catholic, but I still call the priests I know "father" because I respect them, even though I don't share their beliefs.

Your aunt sounds a little kooky, but if she wants to be called "smells like a skunk," there's no harm in it. If not doing so is going to upset her then why not just make her happy. It harms no one and pleases her, so where's the harm.

Finally, as for formality...yes, if someone is going to insist they be called "Mr. Jones" then I would prefer to be called Mrs. Hami. There is nothing wrong with either position; it again boils down to being called what one wants to be called. There's nothing retaliatory or rude about being called Mrs. if that is your choice, for whatever reason.

The only time I can recal being unwilling to call someone what they wanted was when I was a newlywed. My ILs would have liked for me to call them Mom & Dad, and I just cannot do this. I have parents. But they were cool about it and we just went with first names. Funny, though, toward the end of his life I found myself referring to FIL as Dad sometimes. But that was after 20 years of knowing him. So I guess if it is a title that hasn't been earned, I wouldn't call someone by it, but otherwise I think it's okay.


Newscasters routinely refer to presidents as "mister" and have been doing so for ages.

Well, that is true, point taken. But I have also seen instances in which it was used in the way I described. So perhaps that is a situational one.

Actually, the standard for many news sources is for the news source to use the title in the first occurrence in any news piece and then use Mr. or Mrs./Ms. afterward.  So, the first instance would be "President Obama" and afterward, "Mr. Obama" would be used for the rest of the article.  (I actually inquired about this in the past because I was concerned whether disrespect was meant when a certain politician's title was not used.  I found it fascinating!
"Humor is reason gone mad." ~Groucho Marx

Elisabunny

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1387
Re: What to call people
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2013, 03:36:45 PM »
So we are looking at two different situations here; the use of titles and the use of names (or nicknames).

With titles, I think it's pretty easy. Dr., Senator, Miss/Mr./Mrs., it's hard to go wrong there. In your example of the pediatrician, I think since your relationship with her is strictly (I'm assuming here, I know) based on her capacity as a physician, I would have called her Dr., but I don't think it was a huge faux pas that you didn't, as she didn't address you as Mrs. Princess. I know my doctor socially, so when I see her professionally she is "Dr." but otherwise she is "Julie." But that's a different scenario.

With politicians, calling them by their title is showing respect for the office, if not the person. I would have to have true disdain for one to refer to them as Ms/Mr (as in Mr. Obama versus President Obama).

Your priestess friend was absolutely correct, I think. They wish to be called by their chosen title within their religion, but don't want to extend the same courtesy? Absolutely not. And their refusal to compromise with first or Mr Last Name would be a conversation ender. Their obvious complete lack of respect for the beliefs of others is appalling. I am not Catholic, but I still call the priests I know "father" because I respect them, even though I don't share their beliefs.

Your aunt sounds a little kooky, but if she wants to be called "smells like a skunk," there's no harm in it. If not doing so is going to upset her then why not just make her happy. It harms no one and pleases her, so where's the harm.

Finally, as for formality...yes, if someone is going to insist they be called "Mr. Jones" then I would prefer to be called Mrs. Hami. There is nothing wrong with either position; it again boils down to being called what one wants to be called. There's nothing retaliatory or rude about being called Mrs. if that is your choice, for whatever reason.

The only time I can recal being unwilling to call someone what they wanted was when I was a newlywed. My ILs would have liked for me to call them Mom & Dad, and I just cannot do this. I have parents. But they were cool about it and we just went with first names. Funny, though, toward the end of his life I found myself referring to FIL as Dad sometimes. But that was after 20 years of knowing him. So I guess if it is a title that hasn't been earned, I wouldn't call someone by it, but otherwise I think it's okay.


Newscasters routinely refer to presidents as "mister" and have been doing so for ages.

Well, that is true, point taken. But I have also seen instances in which it was used in the way I described. So perhaps that is a situational one.

Actually, the standard for many news sources is for the news source to use the title in the first occurrence in any news piece and then use Mr. or Mrs./Ms. afterward.  So, the first instance would be "President Obama" and afterward, "Mr. Obama" would be used for the rest of the article.  (I actually inquired about this in the past because I was concerned whether disrespect was meant when a certain politician's title was not used.  I found it fascinating!

The correct title for the current POTUS is "Mister", as established by George Washington.  Former presidents are correctly called by whatever title they held before becoming president.
You must remember this: a ghoti is still a fish...

SamiHami

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3374
  • No! Iz mai catnip! You no can haz! YOU NO CAN HAZ!
Re: What to call people
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2013, 04:22:28 PM »
Hm, I guess I've learned something new today! :)

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

WillyNilly

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7490
  • Mmmmm, food
    • The World as I Taste It
Re: What to call people
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2013, 04:28:30 PM »
So we are looking at two different situations here; the use of titles and the use of names (or nicknames).

With titles, I think it's pretty easy. Dr., Senator, Miss/Mr./Mrs., it's hard to go wrong there. In your example of the pediatrician, I think since your relationship with her is strictly (I'm assuming here, I know) based on her capacity as a physician, I would have called her Dr., but I don't think it was a huge faux pas that you didn't, as she didn't address you as Mrs. Princess. I know my doctor socially, so when I see her professionally she is "Dr." but otherwise she is "Julie." But that's a different scenario.

With politicians, calling them by their title is showing respect for the office, if not the person. I would have to have true disdain for one to refer to them as Ms/Mr (as in Mr. Obama versus President Obama).

Your priestess friend was absolutely correct, I think. They wish to be called by their chosen title within their religion, but don't want to extend the same courtesy? Absolutely not. And their refusal to compromise with first or Mr Last Name would be a conversation ender. Their obvious complete lack of respect for the beliefs of others is appalling. I am not Catholic, but I still call the priests I know "father" because I respect them, even though I don't share their beliefs.

Your aunt sounds a little kooky, but if she wants to be called "smells like a skunk," there's no harm in it. If not doing so is going to upset her then why not just make her happy. It harms no one and pleases her, so where's the harm.

Finally, as for formality...yes, if someone is going to insist they be called "Mr. Jones" then I would prefer to be called Mrs. Hami. There is nothing wrong with either position; it again boils down to being called what one wants to be called. There's nothing retaliatory or rude about being called Mrs. if that is your choice, for whatever reason.

The only time I can recal being unwilling to call someone what they wanted was when I was a newlywed. My ILs would have liked for me to call them Mom & Dad, and I just cannot do this. I have parents. But they were cool about it and we just went with first names. Funny, though, toward the end of his life I found myself referring to FIL as Dad sometimes. But that was after 20 years of knowing him. So I guess if it is a title that hasn't been earned, I wouldn't call someone by it, but otherwise I think it's okay.


Newscasters routinely refer to presidents as "mister" and have been doing so for ages.

Well, that is true, point taken. But I have also seen instances in which it was used in the way I described. So perhaps that is a situational one.

Actually, the standard for many news sources is for the news source to use the title in the first occurrence in any news piece and then use Mr. or Mrs./Ms. afterward.  So, the first instance would be "President Obama" and afterward, "Mr. Obama" would be used for the rest of the article.  (I actually inquired about this in the past because I was concerned whether disrespect was meant when a certain politician's title was not used.  I found it fascinating!

Not unlike in the movie The Kings Speech how the Queen informs folks "its 'Your Royal Highness' the first time and 'Madam' after that."

Sharnita

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 21691
Re: What to call people
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2013, 05:12:57 PM »
There are so many.different examples here they are hard to answer as one. In general, I would address the religious folk by title when they are doing their job. I could see a Catholic priest/nun being a bit different since they are basically married to Christ/the church.

Margo

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1739
Re: What to call people
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2013, 05:19:59 PM »
I think in most circumstances it's polite to call people by the name they wish to use, but thus us reciprocal, so if the visiting missionary wishes to be addressed as "Elder" then it is impolite for him not to grant the same courtesy to your aunt and address her as  "Priestess". And   don't think she would be rude to address hum as 'Mr' if he refuses to use her title.

Equally, the PhD shouldn't expect you all to call him 'Dr' unless he is also going to use your professional titles.

I would address my Doctor as Dr. if i met her at the gas station because I don't know her socially and have never been on 1st name terms with her. But I would expect her to address me as 'Ms Lastname' and would find it rude if she addressed me by my first name without being invited to do so.

I would have the same approach with an elected official - if I am addressing him/her formally, I expect him/her to address me formally.

I think that expecting you to be formal/respectful in using their name/title but not extending the same courtesy in retun is a power thing - it only ever goes down, not up. So it is only ever appropriate where there is some kind of hierarchy (e.g. children or students being known by their first names but addressing a teacher by his or her title and last name.)

Regarding your aunt-in-law, if she wants to be known as 'smalls like skunk', so be it. I'm not sure from what you describe that it is any different to anyone changing their name for any other reason - would you have an issue with it if she had (for instance) chosen to change her name because she'd never liked her given name, rather than because she wants a native american name?

squeakers

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1801
Re: What to call people
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2013, 05:58:07 PM »
  I have to think that she has been conned, but she is very sincere and wants to be Native American.

Others have addressed the etiquette of titles so I will just say.. she can want all she wants but she'll only be Native American if she is adopted by a federally recognized tribe.   I'd call her by her chosen nickname but I'd be rolling my eyes every time (inside.. not outside).
"I feel sarcasm is the lowest form of wit." "It is so low, in fact, that Miss Manners feels sure you would not want to resort to it yourself, even in your own defense. We do not believe in retaliatory rudeness." Judith Martin

White Lotus

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 491
Re: What to call people
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2013, 06:47:39 PM »
A coda:  I am a Ph.D.  So is my husband, the Professor.  He is almost universally addressed as "Professor Plum" by those not on given-name terms with him, and I am addressed as Dr. Lotus.  Almost all of our not-given-name socializing is academic, or connected with my work.   My understanding is that socially, outside academic circles, the "Dr.", for a non-medical doctor, is not only not insisted upon, it is not actually correct.  "Professor" seems a bit more fluid and the Professor is usually called that almost always and everywhere.  I am not sure if even that is correct, but that is his problem.  Outside of a business or academic context, since I am not a professor, "Ms. Lotus" is just fine.
"Mr." or "Ms." is a perfectly acceptable title for anybody American, IIRC.  Our names, I grew up hearing, were our titles, and the only ones we would ever need.  The exception is medical doctors, who may be called "Dr." socially as well as professionally.   Honorifics of the official type, I learned, were for protocol only, and never used after an office holder has left office.  Mr. Carter, for example, is Mr. Carter.  The Messrs. Bush are the Messrs. Bush.  Mr. Clinton is Mr. Clinton.  Unless protocol requires it, Mr. Obama is Mr. Obama, but can also be called "Mr. President," as he is the current office holder.  This is all based on the founders' disdain for English titles of nobility or knighthood.  Or so I learned, anyway.

Tea Drinker

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1519
  • Now part of Team Land Crab
Re: What to call people
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2013, 07:15:26 PM »
I think family/intimate relationship titles are a special case. If someone asks me to call them "Uncle Bob" or "Grandma" or "Cousin Suzette," they are offering and/or asking for a level of connection that may or may not be there. (If I'm from a family that says "Aunt Ruth" and marry into one that says "Aunt Smith," we can adjust--but that doesn't mean my mother's next-door neighbor would get to insist on being "Aunt Wilhelmina.")

Beyond that, etiquette means you have to offer reciprocity. If someone wants to be "Mr. Smith" or "Dr. Jones" they should be calling me "Ms. Tea Drinker," not by my first name. (I don't push for this if it's my actual doctor or dentist, but in a social context I would. If they can't pronounce my surname, they can keep trying, ask me to call them "Pat," or say "ma'am" when a term of address is absolutely required.

In the case of those religious visitors, it wasn't just "I outrank you," it was "my title/status counts and yours doesn't," which would be rude anyhow and doubly so given that they were uninvited callers at her home. And that's true for any pair of religions/titles, even if one is more mainstream than the other.
Any advice that requires the use of a time machine may safely be ignored.