Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: A simple 'your lordship' will do

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    I still find it rather weird that my partner's grand-neice and nephew call me 'Uncle Craig' which is bloody ageing.

    My foster brother and his wife are in the process of adopting, and what's the proper honorific for that relationship: Foster uncle? That horrible man who keeps threatening to set fire to my head if I don't STFU? Present man?

    Still, it is rather nice when strangers on the phone call me Miss or Mrs Watson. You take respect where you get it, even if it involves a same-sex marriage and auditory transgenderism. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

  • Deborah,

    I always feel a little shocked when telemarketers et al address me as "Mrs <last name>". I didn't change my name n marriage, so "Mrs <last name>" sounds like my mother to me.

    I prefer not to use a title at all, but for those occasions when one really is required, I recommend getting a PhD. Solves the title problem quite nicely.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    I asked my uncle when I was knee high... if he wants me to call him Uncle...? He said I'm not gonna call you nephew..., so don't worry.
    Furthermore as a kid I ran around with a few Quakers who had a dislike for any titles.
    Then there is the whole Mrs/Ms/Miss (even Mdm now), that got a few nickers in a twist. When I was in customer service roles the newly born again feminists never seemed to hear the option of Ms given to them and were proud to declare their choice of Ms against their perceived patricacle oppressor.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Family friend is officially "Mr" she has an M.D. and now as a surgeon qualifies for a gender reasignment by proxy.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report

  • Paul Campbell,

    My wife and I have different last names - telemarketers who address me as "'Mr Levitt?" get the "he doesn't live here any more, I kicked him out when I moved in" response - floors them every time

    I too had a friend who talked of his parents by their first names (he still does) as a kid back in the late sixties I was floored by this - My wife and I have deliberately never referred to each other in front of our kids with other than our first names they went through a couple of periods as little kids where they did too, we didn't correct them or complain - eventually we became "Mum" and "Dad" which seems to have stuck

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • Joanna,

    One of the reasons that I liked Onslow College was that we had a mix of teachers on first name basis and last name basis, it just depended on their personality.

    I'm so glad not to be in the phone book anymore so that now I don't have flatmates disturbing me by not clicking straight away that anyone asking for a "Mr or Mrs. McLeod" is obviously a telemarketer.

    Being called Miss McLeod makes me think of teachers when I was in trouble, but I love being called Miss Hubris.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Not only are we deeply saddened by the fact that our very own Nathanial Pipe-Blower [**Tzar and 33rd degree Grand Wizard master of the first Inverted Pancake lodge of the totally Awesome Flat Earth Society Ltd**]

    Damn, there's a title to covet.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report

  • Kim Wilson,

    I had an uncomfortable bit of a while when meeting my partner's nephews for the first time. They all address their grandparents and other adults by their first names. It took a bit of getting used to.

    In my family, everyone has always had a title (when quite small, for some reason, I couldn't even deal with calling an older rarely seen second cousin by his first name so he became Uncle Stan) - and I was always of the understanding that it was to show respect.

    As a result of the minor upset, I came to the conclusion that respect is so much more than title related (so far as families go, in any event; not sure how I'd get on calling a Judge by his or her first name in a formal situation). To me, it's more something shown or how something is said rather than some appendage to a name.

    After all, the only name I really 'own' is Kim. (Wilson is my father's surname.)

    Nth Canty • Since Dec 2006 • 28 posts Report

  • Leopold,

    O Tempora, o mores!

    And I am so used to "I am Leo Bloom, but you may call me Sir*."

    It may be hopelessly old-fashioned but I prefer a Mr approach from a complete stranger** rather than the slimy first-name approach of a salesman who dosent know you from a bar of soap but is hoping to flog off some shonky insurance.

    Only genuine friends or colleagues get first name treatment.

    Ditto with politicians who obviously hate each others' guts but insist on using first names to and about each other...

    *Interesting that supposedly more laid-back Americans use the Sir as an article of address far more than we do.
    **Cold call telemarketers on the other hand still get the reponse "Mr Bloom? he dead", which may get me knocked off their list (I hope)

    Since Jan 2007 • 153 posts Report

  • andrew llewellyn,

    (Wilson is my father's surname.)

    Wow - interesting. And "Wilson" was (presumably) his father's surname. None of us really "own" our surname.

    My brother in law seriously considered taking his wife's surname (never having known his father who abandoned him, he felt no connection with the guy).

    Only thing that stopped him was that his wife's surname was truly godawful sounding. So godawful I feel obliged not to reveal it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report

  • B Jones,

    Is it just me, or does anyone else get the sense that referring to someone by their first name when you don't need to ("Thanks, Bob" as opposed to just "Thanks") has a bit of a superior to inferior tone?

    I noticed it when a 4 year old I know politely thanked the guy who brought him his fluffy (we're on first name basis with our baristas). I can't work out whether my reaction was from hearing a kid call an adult by his first name, or just the way a name is used in a sentence.

    Nobody other than telemarketers calls me Mrs Jones - either she's not there, or she gives them a lecture on her preferred title.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report

  • Paul Campbell,

    Everyone in my wife's family has Phds - using formal titles would be confusing

    Having a unique name is IMHO a good thing: A few years ago while living in San Francisco my wife started receiving mail for another "Lisa Levitt", we got phone calls too "is that Lisa Levitt? the one who's father is Gene Levitt? the psychologist?" turns out there was another Lisa in town, her dad was also Dr Eugene Levitt, both were psychologists teaching at universities - and both had been getting each others mail for years it's a small world.

    Back in the '80s I was the only "Paul Campbell" on the internet now I'm one of 1000s

    We gave our kids both our surnames hyphenated - we felt it was a bit of a cop out at the time - but they are, AFAIK, the only "Levitt-Campbell"s on the planet - now I'm very glad we did it

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • Evan Yates,

    My friend's son refers to me as "Uncle" as is the Chinese fashion and I like the sound of that. However my actual nephews and neices call me by my first name and I also like that. Admittedly the blood rellies are almost adults.

    And, Kim

    After all, the only name I really 'own' is Kim. (Wilson is my father's surname.)

    Do you own a name if it was "forced" on you by your parents? Feel free to take proper ownership by giving yourself a new first name. Avoid monikers that can be mistaken for body parts that are normally covered up in genteel social settings.

    Personally, I like the surname as a "sense-of-belonging-to-a-greater-whanau" concept. Not so much for the Hitler family though...

    Hamiltron, Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Nov 2006 • 197 posts Report

  • Emma Hart,

    Cold call telemarketers on the other hand still get the reponse "Mr Bloom? he dead", which may get me knocked off their list (I hope)

    Excellent, I shall do that the next time someone phones and calls me "Mrs Partner'ssurname". Certainly being asked to be put on Slingshot's do not call list four times hasn't worked.

    One thing about kids calling their teachers by 'title surname'. Kids can't distinguish between the different female titles. All the teachers just get this slushy thing somewhere between 'miss' and missus'.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report

  • Danielle,

    supposedly more laid-back Americans

    Americans are often more hierarchical than we are, I think. I called all of my professors in grad school in the USA 'Dr <surname>'. In southern Louisiana, particularly, it's expected that you will call any older adult 'Miss <first name>' or 'Mr <first name>', particularly if they are your in-laws. (That's another Cajun thing, as my Texan husband never does it. Regional variations abound, clearly.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Do you own a name if it was "forced" on you by your parents? Feel free to take proper ownership by giving yourself a new first name.

    My sister went through some sort of re-evaluation of her name as part of her finding-my-identity stage as an adult. She went from spelling it as Fiona to Ffyona, as a reclamation I guess. Which must mean she has to spell it for everyone when she gives it to them.

    We gave our kids both our surnames hyphenated - we felt it was a bit of a cop out at the time - but they are, AFAIK, the only "Levitt-Campbell"s on the planet - now I'm very glad we did it

    For my first child I agreed he could just have his mother's surname, as she was opposed to hyphenated names, and I've regretted it since really. My second child has a hyphenated name (different mother) which is much more satisfactory.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report

  • andrew llewellyn,

    My sister spurned the hyphen for her kids, she gave them both "Llewellyn" as a middle name.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report

  • Emma Hart,

    My sister spurned the hyphen for her kids, she gave them both "Llewellyn" as a middle name.

    We did this too. Only with 'Hart', not Llewellyn, because that would have been odd.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report

  • Tom Beard,

    Even "Mr Smith" was unacceptably familiar at my school: it was "Sir", and a detention if you didn't. The more radical teachers were the ones who addressed you by your first name. It wasn't quite "Jones minor! Stop that right now, you horrible little oik!", but it was close.

    In contrast, I now know hardly anyone who'd address other people with honorifics rather than first names, with the odd exception of doctors and the like.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    I only use titles if it's a little funny, like my mate Mr Mann, said in the style of "you da Man".

    All profs & M.D.s are 1st name only.

    A running family joke is the link to nobility and disputes as to whether Baron(ess) or Count(ess) are appropriate. The latter is always favoured by some, along with the Kiwi accents omited vowels.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report

  • Julie Fairey,

    Well I started writing a comment to your excellent post, Sir, but it got too long, so I'm shamelessly linking to it at The Hand Mirror instead :-)

    It's quite nice having a unique name, means you can almost guarantee to only get your own self when doing ego searches!

    Puketapapa Mt Roskill, AK… • Since Dec 2007 • 234 posts Report

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    Our neighbour also happens to be a teacher at our kids school. He cheerfully explains to the girls, who call him 'Chris' around the 'hood, that at school, they have to call him 'Mr Smith'.

    Its a distinction that our 6 and 8 year olds have no problem making. But school seems to be the last preserve of this strange tradition.

    I can recall my first job (not long before the crash in '87) and being told that we had to address the CEO as we would a teacher (this was an insurance company after all). Can you imagine that happening now?.

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report

  • James Green,

    I prefer to just be James, but I do get annoyed by being mistered. On forms I prefer not to check any of the boxes. Most places data entry systems fail to accept this. I sometimes wonder whether I'm going to get grumpy one day and point out the error of your ways.

    Amusingly, in a work context when emailing foreign academics I've never met, I invariably run with Prof. X...

    I've done a little research on this in a certain context... and there is a watershed around 45, where the proportion of people who would prefer to be addressed by their first name drops to just under 60%.

    Limerick, Ireland • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report

  • daleaway,

    I do like tradespeople to use Mrs.
    It helps keep them humble, and reminds them that I have backup.

    Since Jul 2007 • 198 posts Report

  • samuel walker,

    It seems that to me that to many people of my generation anyone requiring to be addressed with a title (mr, mrs, sir) is exhibiting a lack of respect to the addresser. which is an interesting turnaround. Whereas addressing someone by their first name shows that you are relating to them as a person, rather than a position. which actually shows a more honest kind of respect.

    I cant imaging my daughter not calling her teacher mrs richardson though, it just seems cuter.

    Im sure it is for a similar reason that starting any written corespondence with Dear..... seems overly familiar.

    When I was a fair bit younger, in my first job, which involved serving customers at a photobooth A certain Opera singer type [probably not the first one that springs to mind....not Kiri....] refused to be addressed as mrs XXXXXXX (it was a simple transaction, they pass over their docket or give their name.....we find the prints and pass it back saying that'll be $17.95 mrs smith, no one ever complained), she looked FURIOUS and demanded "thats DAME", the cheeky me said "oh, mrs dame, sorry...." heheh, she insisted on showing me her credit card which had dame xxx xxx printed on it. this was all done in the sort of snooty manner that actually makes you respect the person on the same level as a petty thief, rather than the privilidged level at which they see themselves.....

    i have never been able to appreciate opera since.....

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report

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