Author Topic: What to call people  (Read 3724 times)

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snowdragon

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2013, 08:00:35 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.

  This.  especially the bolded.

nuit93

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2013, 08:57:27 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.


Yep--this, to me, is what makes it rude.

Library Dragon

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2013, 09:29:45 PM »
Agreed, the "elders" were rude. 

Titles are sometimes times tricky.  When DH was presenting his thesis at a university in Belgium one of the professors asked if he was letting personal bias show when he referred to President Obama instead of Mr. Obama.  His brain went, "Huh?"  It never occurred to him that it could be construed as disrespectful.

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Psychopoesie

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2013, 10:32:32 PM »
The person whose name it is gets to decide. Agree this should be reciprocal. So Mrs Lastname should call me Ms Lastname. & those Elders were rude.

If someone changes their name, go with that, no matter how kooky it sounds.

As my brother grew up he asked to no longer be called by a diminutive of his name (like asking to be called John now instead of Johnny). It still slips out sometimes but I do try.

Only my family use a couple of nicknames for me. I'd be really uncomfortable if someone else did that because those names have a history and level of intimacy behind them.

On the relative title issue, it depends a bit on context. I can understand not wanting to call ILs or a new Stepparent Mum or Dad. However, I'd ask them for other options and try and achieve a compromise.

A few years ago, my cousin's kids (who are now in their mid to late teens) suddenly decided to stop calling me Aunty Nickname without asking. For me, the title signified affection, closeness and respect. When I asked why, it was because I wasn't a "real" aunt (one of their parents' siblings or their partner). That really stings.

I've always treated them just like a niece and nephew. I've taken time off work so i could drive the 9 hours to their place for birthdays whenever i could, made them birthday cakes, taken them all round my city whenever they've visited, even taken them shopping for back to school gear, talked with them, played cards with them, cared for them and generally loved them to bits.  So it wasn't an unearned title. There was no argument or ill feeling to set this off.

I explained why this matters to me (at the time). It seems rude as well as hurtful to chose to ignore my preferences.

Anyway, that's why this topic presses my buttons a bit.

 




Thipu1

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2013, 10:11:10 AM »
This is a very thought-provoking thread. 

My in-laws wanted me to call them Mom and Dad from the beginning.  I was only able to feel comfortable doing so after my own parents died. 

The religious titles are iffier. For some years we were quite close friends with an Episcopal priest.  When we attended events at his church, we always addressed him as 'Father'.  When we were out having a beer together, he was 'Dave'.  On the other hand, my Uncle was a Catholic priest and a close friend of his was a bishop.  In the family, people of their generation called them by their first names only.  People of my generation called them'Father Joe' and 'Bishop Charlie'.

Oddly, I would have less problem with 'Priestess' than I would with 'Elder'.  At the library we had a number of Kemetic visitors who used 'Priestess'.  We even had a 'Grand Master' and a 'Queen'.  These were nice people and we were on good terms so 'Maam' or 'Sir' usually sufficed.  They really didn't expect people who didn't share their belief to use the terms.  We were once invited to a function at their temple.  There, we used the terms because we were on their turf, so to speak. 

I know a number of churches that use the term 'Elder'.  I would have no problem addressing a mature man as such.  However, in my experience, the elders we're talking about are young men in their late teens or early twenties. I would have somewhat of a problem using that term for someone who could be my grandson.

Titles indicating professional credentials also depend on context.  In a professional context, the title is warranted.  In the library, we'd get 'Doctors' all the time.  On being introduced, the real ones would almost invariably say, 'Call me Cathy, please.' The ones  who insisted on 'Doctor' were likely to be fakes.


         


Lynn2000

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2013, 10:56:12 AM »
I have also been thinking about this topic due to the Grandparent thread. :) To me the rule seems to be more grey, or on a spectrum, rather than black-and-white.

Generally speaking, I should address people the way they want to be addressed. BUT, there are limits. If my next door neighbor wants me to always refer to him as Prince Paul of Bavaria--and there doesn't seem to be any factual basis behind this title--the idea would make me very uncomfortable. I don't know that I would outright refuse, but I would try my best to not actually refer to him as anything--"Hey, how's it going?" rather than, "Hey, Prince Paul, how's it going?"

Likewise, if an adult wanted me to use a title/nickname I consider indicative of a close relationship, when I felt we didn't (yet) have that close relationship. There's definitely an element of the "insisting/forcing" turning me off as well. I could see myself someday referring to my (hypothetical, future) in-laws as "Mom" and "Dad," you know, after twenty years of a good relationship; but if they insisted I do it from day one, that would not be cool with me and would actually delay the closeness they want to achieve. Again, I would probably try to avoid using names/titles for them as much as possible, rather than using a name in contradiction to what they wanted.

And, I do think it should be reciprocal. There are explicit hierarchies in some formal situations, like school and some workplaces, where it might be appropriate for the "upper" people to be Mister/Missus/Doctor Smith even as they call the "lower" people Bob or Jane. But if I meet someone purely in a social setting and they want to be called Doctor Smith while referring to me as Lynn, it would rub me the wrong way. It could still be okay, or not okay but also not very consequential to me; but it puts a certain distance between me and them, and that makes a certain impression that might not be favorable.

Lastly, I personally find it hard to change titles/names after I've known someone a certain way for a long time. For example, for years I knew my boss as Dr. Smith, while I was Lynn, and I felt that was appropriate to the situation. After I had gained a doctorate of my own, she invited me to call her Betty instead. I just can't bring myself to do it, honestly. For the first eight years I knew her she was Dr. Smith. Sometimes I call her Betty with other people--"Betty told me you had a question for me?"--but I can't bring myself to say to her, "Good morning, Betty." I usually just default to "Good morning" with no title.
~Lynn2000

baglady

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2013, 09:15:39 PM »
Quote
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."

Does your friend regularly engage LDS missionaries in conversation? I'm curious, because while some missionaries/proselytizers have introduced themselves to me by name, I never got around to giving them my name or title, or using theirs: "Sorry, guys/folks, I'm not interested."

But given that they did have a conversation, they were rude for insisting on "Elder" if they weren't willing to use her title in return. I wonder if they'd have done the same thing with a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister or a rabbi.

Since HIPAA (the very strict health care privacy act here in the U.S.) came along, I've seen some doctors get borderline paranoid about being acknowledged by their patients in public because Shhh! Nobody's supposed to know you're my patient! It was different back in the day when everyone knew who the local doctors were, so people could have any number of reasons for calling Dr. Jones "Dr. Jones" in public -- they worked at the hospital, they lived in his neighborhood, they went to school with his kids -- that had nothing to do with whether they were his patients. And what if they were? Half the town was.

I'm between physicians at the moment, but if I had an ongoing professional relationship with one, and I met him/her at the gas pump, the conversation would probably contain no names at all. "Hi!" "Hey, how ya doin'?" "Fine, and you?" "Fine, thanks ... lovely day, isn't it?"

It occurs to me that I don't use names all that much in everyday conversation, unless I'm performing an introduction, trying to get someone's attention, or trying to be clear to a third party whom I'm talking about. My doctor may have invited me to call him Dave, but if I'm calling his office, I'm going to say, "I'd like to make an appointment with Dr. Jones."

I have no problem calling clergy members by their titles even if I'm not of their faith. I was religion editor (among other duties) for a newspaper and knew all the local clergy by name -- from Pastor Smith, Father Jones and Reverend Harris* to Rabbi Bloom, Father George, Jean and Donna (the last two were ministers I knew outside the church context).

In college, all the instructors were "professors" or "profs" in casual conversation. Many of those whose actual title was Lecturer or Instructor instead of Professor would ask students to call them Doctor ___ (if they had a Ph.D.) or by their first names.

*My copy editor's soul dislikes "Reverend" because it's so often misused. It's an adjective, not a noun. It's The Reverend John/Joan Harris, and never, ever "the reverend" or "s/he is a reverend." But if Mr./Ms. Harris preferred to be called Reverend Harris, that's what I called him/her.
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Sharnita

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2013, 09:30:16 PM »
I have no idea what goes into bieng a Priestess but I wonder if clergy who the Elders recognize as having gone though some sort of formal study.of.written scripture might get a .different.reaction

snowdragon

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2013, 09:56:09 PM »
I have no idea what goes into bieng a Priestess but I wonder if clergy who the Elders recognize as having gone though some sort of formal study.of.written scripture might get a .different.reaction

Not necessarily - A Buddhist Monk friend of mine has the title of "Rinpoche" and the missions refuse to call her anything except, "Ma'am" or "Miss", similarly the Imam in their territory is called "Sir" - while they want to be called "Elder" ---but the missionaries in my Sister in Laws area call everyone by title. It seems to be regional thing or maybe a thing in specific congregations. 

darkprincess

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2013, 01:51:59 PM »
I have no idea what goes into bieng a Priestess but I wonder if clergy who the Elders recognize as having gone though some sort of formal study.of.written scripture might get a .different.reaction

I guess this is why I am asking the question. Should it matter what type of formal study or other requirements someone needs to have to be recognized. My understanding is that Mormon missionaries "Elders" only get a few weeks and at the most 2 months of formal study, the longer time is given if they are not learning a new language. My friend was an apprentice for a few years. So she had more formal study time than they did. If a few weeks is sufficient can I go to a month worth of study and then demand everyone call me by a title. I don't mean to be snarky I am truly wondering if it is OK to say I will recognize this religious title but not that one. It seems like it would be rude.
Obviously for Doctor you need to have a degree and license, for political titles you need to be elected officially, but for other titles Elder, Priestess, Sister, Father, Reverend, Monk, do we all just need to accept the person's qualifications as they state them and give then the use of the formal title and possible authority it conveys without question?
In my friends case she was willing to recognize their title at face value but they would not do the same, this seems rude. Does this lack of recognition by one of the parties change the requirements of using a title.

So far I really like the idea that titles are used when the situation is related to the title, and the level of formality is for both people. So in a doctor's office I am Mrs Princess and Dr is Dr Last name.  At a church event Elder, Sister, etc are fine but Dr isn't. The weird part is when the people in the situation disagree. Father Joe may be married to the church and feel that everything he does is religious, but if I am selling him tires there is nothing religious about it. In this case it doesn't make sense that everyone should be required to use their non-relevant title instead of Mr Last Name. They could if they chose to but it doesn't seem to be rude not to. It is also complicated if the Monk wants his title and credentials recognized but does not want to recognize the credentials and title of others. It is even more complicated when Elder wants to talk religion and therefor get the use of the title but the person he is talking to doesn't want to talk about religion.

snowdragon

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2013, 02:43:09 PM »
A Buddhist Monk, like Priests and Nuns go through years of training before first vows are taken ( more or less depending on order) Rabbi's also, Imam is a title ( as I understand it ) Bestowed by a congregation on a person known for their knowledge of Koran and the Law - again years of study.
  Elder seems to be a common title in Christian Churches with some getting as little as 8 hours of training. (http://firstpresbyterian.org/content/being-elder). 
  I am not sure the commitments are the same...or the level of knowledge but if one expect people outside the faith to address them with their title - they need to extend the same courtesy to all people they come in contact with.
 
 That said I am not sure I could call someone who I am old enough to be their mother or grandmother, "elder" with a straight face. I am also not sure I'd be comfortable addressing someone as "Priestess" or "Mama", either.
 

Xandraea

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #26 on: August 22, 2013, 03:25:25 PM »
The place I most run into "titles" is at my church. (Guess I don't get out much?)

Our two Pastors are interchangeably "Pastor Firstname" and/or "Pastor Lastname".  Those who spend more time around them (worship/tech teams, office volunteers) call them by their first names, and in my experience, they use our first names too.  Childcare workers are almost all known as "Miss/Ms/Mrs/Mr Firstname" (the thinking is first names are easier for small children to remember/say, and the title indicates respect), except the Children's Ministry Leader, who somehow ended up "Mrs. Lastname", but her last name is very easy to spell/say.  It is a casual, comfortable environment.

I think overall, when addressing someone, it depends on the occasion, and the relationship.  In a formal setting when making introductions, "Dr./Mr./Mrs./Ms. Lastname" would be appropriate.  An individual is then free to say, "Oh please, call me Mary."  In a Doctor's office, Dr. Jones would meet with Ms./Mr. Smith".  If Dr. Jones and Mr. Smith were friends outside of the professional setting, they'd likely refer to one another by first name. 

People who don't know one another and are not meeting socially should stick with titles in first introductions/conversations, and it is reasonable to expect the same level of formality.  Therefore, if the young man who knocks on your door expects to be called "Elder", he should address you as Mr./Mrs./Priestess/Doctor, as you introduce yourself.

Again, in social situations, say, a cocktail party, if everyone's introducing themselves by first name, it seems rather snooty for someone to insist on being called "Doctor Jones", as by using the title/last name, he is putting himself above everyone else with that level of formality.  On the other hand, when a 2nd grade teacher was invited and showed up at a student's birthday party (outside of school), the kids still excitedly ran to hug her, exclaiming, "Miss Wilson!", the parents addressed her as such, and she and all the kids called the hosting parents "Mrs. Young."  With kids/grownups it can be different, often with kids using titles for grown-ups, and grown-ups calling kids by their first names.


nyarlathotep

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #27 on: August 22, 2013, 03:54:24 PM »
Situation aside, when it comes to what someone wants to be called, I ask myself the following question:

Does their chosen name/title/moniker describe them, or does it describe my relationship to them?
If it describes them (e.g. Professor, Ms, Elder, Princess Consuela Bananahammock, etc), it's their choice, and I should respect it (insofar as it's not breaking any laws or disrespectful to someone else).
If it describes my relationship to them (e.g. mum, dad) then it's my choice.

It doesn't really matter if I find someone else's chosen descriptor silly or pompous, because it's not my name. I might not want to hang around someone who insisted on being called "Professor" in an informal setting, but I wouldn't dream of calling them something other than what they wanted to be called. That's pretty insulting, IMO.

baglady

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #28 on: August 22, 2013, 05:27:04 PM »
Quote
I might not want to hang around someone who insisted on being called "Professor" in an informal setting,

This reminded me of the Maestro from "Seinfeld."  :)
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darkprincess

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Re: What to call people
« Reply #29 on: August 22, 2013, 06:07:03 PM »
Situation aside, when it comes to what someone wants to be called, I ask myself the following question:

Does their chosen name/title/moniker describe them, or does it describe my relationship to them?
If it describes them (e.g. Professor, Ms, Elder, Princess Consuela Bananahammock, etc), it's their choice, and I should respect it (insofar as it's not breaking any laws or disrespectful to someone else).
If it describes my relationship to them (e.g. mum, dad) then it's my choice.

It doesn't really matter if I find someone else's chosen descriptor silly or pompous, because it's not my name. I might not want to hang around someone who insisted on being called "Professor" in an informal setting, but I wouldn't dream of calling them something other than what they wanted to be called. That's pretty insulting, IMO.

I like this.