Honorifics

Are you a first-name user from the get-go? Or do you still use an honorific with a person you don't know well?

I adore a good honorific; when I write, for my work, about someone specific, I tend to first use their full name in a post and then call them Ms. Smith or Mr. Green for the remainder of the piece.

And a woman I love and have known for most of my life is still a Mrs. to me; she has never asked me to use her first name and I respect that. She's a person I can talk to about a lot, so the honorific isn't always distancing or formal, in my mind.

If you've read "Redwoodian," this probably won't come as a surprise to you, that I lean this way; Ms. and Miss both come into play throughout the book.

What's your take? Is it too fusty and old-fashioned or is it simply a polite courtesy? Or, in Gomery's case, a bit of a flirtation?

Oh, and a quick PS: I've received some wonderful emails addressed to Ms. Painter via this site. That makes my honorific-happy heart flutter, but I am well and truly just Alysia. :)





8 comments:

Erika said...

I use Mrs. Still for a woman who is my second mom. I also sometimes calls her Momma but I like honorifics. My dad was big on being called Mr. ... He still kind of is :)

Wilfair Book said...

That's so nice about your dad; yes, this lady I use "Mrs." with is a second mom to me, too.

PS Erika and friends: I've seen some great comments in recent posts and I will join in next week for sure!

Erika said...

LADIES! I read the first Anne of Green Gables book and ya'll were right. Loved it!

wealhtheow said...

Erika, I'm so glad!! Wait until book 3--SWOONY GOODNESS! Gilbert Blythe is still my ideal man.

Here in the Upper South my kid calls adults by their first name with an honorific--so Miss Moira, Mr. Keith. He calls his teachers Mrs. Lastname and I'll probably have him call classmates' parents Mrs. Lastname, but for closer friends it seems a little overly formal, while Miss Firstname reflects the closeness of the relationship while still being respectful.

Wilfair Book said...

Erika: Gahhhhhhh! I'm excited. The Anne books are my perfect, ultimate books. There's goodness to come. What wealhtheow said.

That's interesting about Upper South traditions. Miss Firstname and so forth.

I guess I like honorifics best when they aren't necessarily required or expected. Like among adults. I'm such a fuddy-duddy.

Chiara said...

This is quite interesting! Being half Dutch/half German and living practically on the border, I've come accustomed to both the Dutch culture which doesn't use honorifics that often, Dutch people are on first name basis rather quickly. German culture is very different, honorifics are a huge deal, even in schools when kids turn 18 their teachers might start using honorifics (in contrast, this wouldn't happen in The Netherlands, even now old teachers would still just call me Chiara). Teachers are obviously addressed with honorifics. Also, usually in public places in The Netherlands often the informal "you" is used, and in Germany on the other hand you are usually addressed with the formal "you". Oh, another thing! In Germany it is also quite common to use first names but use the polite forms of "you" which to me always seems quite ridiculous because once you're on first name basis, you could might as well go all the way.

As I'm familiar with Italian culture as well, things tend to lean more towards the Dutch way there, informal addressing is done more easily I guess but not all the time but people do tend to get on first name basis quite easily. Both in Italy and The Netherlands, it does obviously also depend on the place and circle of people.

After this little tidbit, I for one like to be just Chiara, I feel uncomfortable being addressed anything else but I have gotten used to it. At work for example (which is in Germany), my students may call me Chiara and use the non polite version of "you" with me except for one place I work at where it's common that all the kids call the teachers by their last name plus honorific, which always makes me feel really old, hahaha!

I'm intrigued by the important people both Alysia and Erika mentioned that you address Mrs. I don't think I ever experienced that for myself. It's interesting but I get it, if nobody offers their first name to you, you don't go there when they're older than you are. I'm intrigued by the honorifics plus first names as well, that's really cute!

Wilfair Book said...

Chiara! As always, you weigh in with some truly excellent info. I'm fascinated by all of this, especially why one might use a first name but the polite form of "you." Quirky.

It's nice your students call you by your first name.

I enjoy thinking about all of this. It truly is a matter of taste and tradition, all over the world, but I'll be a bit old-fashioned and say that if a person is older by a generation, they deserve an immediate honorific. Then it is up to them to request that I call them by their first name.

Chiara said...

I'm with you on the honorific, I would never call somebody older than me by their first names unless they offer me that privilege of course. It just doesn't seem right.

 
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