Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Maria Miller: Not Known At This Address

There are few things that miff me quite as much as assumed deference and I have never understood the requirement to call court officials 'Your Honour', 'My Lord/Lady' or even (shudder) 'Master'. To me, this smacks of a residual feudalistic error, now corrected broadly across society but clung to, anomalously, in our more archaic institutions. 

I much prefer terms of endearment to terms of address.  Here, in no particular order, is a list of my favourite terms of endearments, as gleaned from a brief Google search:

duck, sweetheart, treacle, babe, sweetie, cocker, petal, honey, darling, chick, chicken, lover, pet, lass, sugar, sweetpea, blossom, poppet, luv, hinny, hen, chuck, mate, guv, son, dearie

Comparing folks to chickens seems to be a popular choice, and why not - it's one of the most useful creatures out there.  I quite like the term 'chickpea' to refer to my daughter.  It combines the best of birds with flowers and houmous which is no bad thing.

When I answer the phone at work it always delights me to have a stranger refer to me as darling, petal, flower, angel etc.  It endears me to them (as the term suggests), creating an immediate sense of camraderie and informality which makes me feel relaxed and warm towards them.  I've been called love by very young people, in shops for example, and that always makes me smile because it's like watching a child walking in a pair of high heels.  It's as if they've borrowed a level of relaxation or familiarity that belongs to their grannie.  

From the lasting frustration at the gendered terms of address (you're all Ms as far as I'm concerned) to the assumption of superiority which perpetuates in certain professions (the honourable... for MPs being the most ridiculous, and often oxymoronic, example) there is a certain desperation in demanding the correct form of address.  It's a societal superiority complex that needs to be, ahem, addressed. 

And so, a short, topical poem.

Maria Miller's Address

Petals and poppets of the jury
Please forgive this ninny
I'm a right muppet when it comes to numbers
Culture's my bag, innit?
Oh, there's numbers in my bag
Ninety grand at last count
But who's counting?

This honourable duckie said she's sorry
And you know the rules
Weren't written for a pet in a pickle
They're for the proles on parole

Look, Your Dishonour, can I call you Guv?
I didn't mean nothin by it
We're all pals here
No harm done eh?

Thanks hen.
You're a babe.




Jim Murdoch said...

With my father it was ‘love’. Everyone got called ‘love’ even blokes on occasion when he forgot himself. He was from Lancashire. My uncle—also from Lancashire—called me ‘duck’ the last time we spoke on the phone. I thought that was odd. ‘Hen’ is very common here in Glasgow. With me it’s ‘pet’ and mostly women take it in the spirit in which it’s intended, one of affection, but I did have one workmate object and she asked that I stop using it with her which I did but I have to say it bothered me.

vicky ellis said...

As with any complaints about language, it's usually about the context. If someone was being nasty and called me love I'd see that it in a very different light - patronizing rather than friendly.

I like it when men call each other duck or love. I think there should be more of that. I suppose mate or guv are the male equivalents.

There could be a sexist element seen in this - as the terms applied to women tend to be cutesy - and in that respect they are just as archaic as the terms of address. But, as I say, it's all about context. For me, I find it makes me warm to a person - revealing their informal, friendly nature, rather than an attempt to belittle me.

Tommi T Kekola said...

Honey, Hiney, Sweetie, Sweetpea and Sugar Britches, terms used at our home... and just because Colin asked for jokes earlier: "What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 50? Your Honour." ;)

vicky ellis said...

I think that joke applies to a lot of professions :)

How do you pronounce hiney? I'm not sure I've heard that one.

Tommi T Kekola said...

Hiney is pronounced "Hi Ni" (like the knights who say "Ni") ;) The word is southern US and means butt => (_!_). It was used in The Big Bang Theory, when Sheldon lost his voice and had to use computer to speak: when he wanted to borrow honey from Penny, he accidentally typed "I want hiney". lol

vicky ellis said...

Ah, thanks! - I was aware of the butt definition, not heard it used this way. I like the double meaning ;)

Colin Davies said...

"I suppose mate or guv are the male equivalents."


So not only are we looking at the archaic practice of calling some jumped up little rich boy 'Me Lerd' and address them there crooks who claim to lead us "Honorable" but we is now reverting to geographical 90's stereotyping.

Now that's what I call Girl Power.


No but serious.

I think it's great when chicks and dicks use soft familiarites. I try and get everyone in the office to say 'I love you' at the end of all phone conversations. Which get's some strange reactions from the customers at the funeral parlour I can tell you.

vicky ellis said...

Some blokes call each other flower etc, as mentioned above, but in my experience they are more likely to use the term 'mate'. That's just my personal, admittedly limited, experience.