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08:03 PM on 04/11/2013
When did being called "ma, am" become synonymous with old, I'd like to know. Because when I'm called ma'am , I feel like a dinasour. But , now I think I'm going to embrace it. My last name is Rex.
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Tom S Cedar Mill
This ain't no party, this ain't no disco.
07:59 PM on 04/11/2013
Sometimes a word is just a word.

I'm in the Northwest and I deal with lots of customers in the South. I always say "sir" in our dealings, as do they. Nobody thinks about who is older, richer, better positioned, it's just a bit of respect we give each other.
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gerorem
Linus v. Lucy
07:56 PM on 04/11/2013
Miss, Mrs, Missie ---all can be construed as insults, depending on the person's sensitivity to their own age, marital status or rank. In NYC "Miss" was considered nice; "Lady" irritating. "Missie" down South is often condescending.

Sir and Mister can sting, depending on the context. ["You, sir, are wrong" irks more with "sir" added.] And context determines whether "Bud" is a dis or not.
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DMUrban
I am not joining facebook
07:54 PM on 04/11/2013
It might be because I live in the South but I can't stand the word. It sounds so condescending.
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07:50 PM on 04/11/2013
The only thing I'm offended by here is Vegetarian Chili. Anyone who knows anything about real chili knows that it has no beans and good meat in it.

Now don't go howling - I love vegetarian food and eat it myself three times a week or more - just NEVER when it comes to chili.
07:48 PM on 04/11/2013
Ma'am is short for "Madam" or "Madame" ... according to it's dictionary definitions it does not particularly imply that one is married or not, and simply does not refer to a woman's age at all. It is often still used in the South and young Southern boys for many generations were trained to refer to women as "Ma'am" a sign of courtesy and respect, and still are.

It's interesting to see this kind of negative spin being put on something so benign and even polite.

Much ado about nothing. But to the extent that the cultural norm becomes that no one should attach any kind of gender reference (Ms., Miss, Ma'am, Sir, Mr., etc.) when addressing them to take a service order or food order, etc., I would be all in favor of that. Gender references are so passé.
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Rekt
Don't blame me... I voted for Shunryu Suzuki!!
08:49 PM on 04/11/2013
Finish reading the article...
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FilthyHarry
Expletive Deleted
07:37 PM on 04/11/2013
Any man or woman of any age, that I've not been formally introduced to is 'sir' or 'ma'am'.
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ginadeoliveira2008
The greatest thing you'll ever learn...
07:34 PM on 04/11/2013
The first time I was called ma'am I was 29. I had a fit!
07:34 PM on 04/11/2013
Because we have so many with southern roots out here in Central California, I've been called ma'am since I was in my 20s, and I didn't look old for my age, it is just respectful. But it was a jolt the first few times. I found myself looking behind me to see if my Mom was there. I have to say, I was surprised from the teaser what the word was. I was expecting the c---- word.
07:33 PM on 04/11/2013
I've lived in NYC for 14 years, originally from Tennessee and I was raised with strict manners. I ALWAYS say ma'am/sir. It's polite and I've never had anyone ask me not to do it. I would anyways.
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TapestryMood
Don't trickle down on my parade!
07:24 PM on 04/11/2013
LOL..I was in my early thirties the first time a grocery clerk asked me if I had found everything, "Ma'am"..and I looked around to see to whom she was speaking;-D
I was sometimes still "carded" in bars since I looked so young.
We both laughed when I told her I didn't know she was talking to me.

Was I offended? No. It is a term of politeness.
I certainly find it preferable to, "You guys" .... as in, "How you guys doing?" and "May I help you guys?"....LOL.

I do get offended when called "Young lady" by those who think it is cute to refer to a woman in her 60's that way. Do they mean to be offensive? No. Do I find it patronizing? Yes.

Tapestry
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lajl
07:18 PM on 04/11/2013
Still be offended..they didn't look up the meaning..people say it when they think a woman is of a certain age. It drives me insane. I call for a Universal "Miss" for females of every age....It makes my day when a store clerk says it. Someone start a facebook campaign:)
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07:08 PM on 04/11/2013
Old french ladies will correct you if you call them madam if they never married. It is kind of funny when they are 90+.
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firstwizard
Sure I talk to the voices! It keeps them calm
07:55 PM on 04/11/2013
Funny, I heard that there was a movement in France a few years ago to basically ban the word mademoiselle. What do we call them now?
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08:43 PM on 04/11/2013
My wife says it is better if we just do not speak at all.
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07:56 PM on 04/11/2013
Old French ladies in general are a hoot!
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Lulo
07:07 PM on 04/11/2013
I am not even a woman and that word bothers me. It feels like I am on a date with Angela Lansbury.

Good manners are NOT words. A young boy could be the most well-mannered person on earth and not use the words "sir" and "madam" once. I have known plenty of spoiled brats that use the words "sir" and "ma'am" and have no manners. That to me is a cheap shortcut, a sort of relic from the old days that has absolutely no value in modern days.
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gerorem
Linus v. Lucy
07:41 PM on 04/11/2013
Sir/Ma'am are the only Southernisms [my term for it] I adopted when I moved here. I use them out of respect for the person. Hey Mac / Hey Lady (NYC) don't quite do it.

That said, you are right in that people use it reflexively and without much thought. And it can be used as a cover for what you really think. Yes sir/yes ma'am can mean "You are a pain, but I have to be nice" or "bite me."

It also reminds me of the use of "With all due respect...."---you know degrading insult is coming.
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carledgar
Eschew the passive voice in breaking news stories
07:02 PM on 04/11/2013
Well, it's difficult to know which honorifics are acceptable these days - In Belfast, it's 'Mussus' and in other parts of the UK "missus' among those for whom gentility is a waste of time (and they don't mean it rudely) - 'Madam' is common form of address by wait staff and undertakers. "Miss' is commonly applied to women of a certain age NOT, but there's always the lurking fear among men that the object of their comment may actually be a 'Ms'. Sergeant, Squadron leader and Brigadier are useful when rank is known and obvious - as is Your Grace, Your Eminence and analogous honorifics, addressed to those with a penchant for the younger members of our society.

Mister, Bud, Pard, Sir and Sirrah are often used for males, as is Your Honour/Honor, Guv, Squire - etc. In Australia, 'Mate' will suffice in almost all circles, while 'Me Sheila' is often used jocularly by sheep shearers to pub barmaids
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08:06 PM on 04/11/2013
Seriously -- Sirrah? Pard? Your Eminence and Your Grace? Squire??

I'd like to attend one of your cocktail parties.
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carledgar
Eschew the passive voice in breaking news stories
09:30 PM on 04/11/2013
Squire is very cockney - Sirrah, more than 100 years archaic and pard - popular in the Saturday morning serials in the 50s - your Eminence is standard fare for bishops
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carledgar
Eschew the passive voice in breaking news stories
12:31 PM on 04/12/2013
I forgot "Supreme Leader" lol