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English Usage
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michael


Posts: 3,223
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #581
30-03-2017 10:59 AM

Quote:
The only part of my life where titles are still used is my child's school

Says Mr Numbers!

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Mr_Numbers


Posts: 511
Joined: May 2012
Post: #582
30-03-2017 11:34 AM

Quote:
Says Mr Numbers!

It's a fair cop, guv. You got me bang to rights. Blush

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #583
30-03-2017 03:39 PM

The trouble is, there are few ways in modern English usage of expressing different degrees of intimacy. At one time we could distinguish between the intimate second person 'thou' and the polite 'you' (and many if not all modern European languages still can.) In terms of titles we could progress from 'Dear Mr Bloggs' to 'Dear Bloggs' and, if things went well, to 'Dear Joe.' Samuel Pepys proudly recorded in his diary the first time the King called him 'Pepys' (instead, presumably, of 'Mr Pepys.') And I remember reading this bit of dialogue:
He. May I call you by your Christian name?
She. If you like.
He. Er.....what is your Christian name?

All these nuances are now lost. We're best mates with everyone the first time we meet them (or the first time they ring us up about PPI).

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Mr_Numbers


Posts: 511
Joined: May 2012
Post: #584
30-03-2017 04:10 PM

You remind me of a documentary I saw very many years ago, at least part of which was about policing in Britain in the post-immigration world. A police officer - with no apparent intent to be insulting or racist - asked an elderly Asian gentleman, "What's your Christian name, Mr Singh?"

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Nick2


Posts: 6
Joined: Mar 2017
Post: #585
31-03-2017 08:01 PM

I agree with Robin - and in the course of a generation or so this has changed.

I can't even conceive of insisting someone calls me 'Mr' - it might be the quickest way to a slap.

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Mr_Numbers


Posts: 511
Joined: May 2012
Post: #586
01-04-2017 07:07 AM

To be honest, when some young whippersnapper cold-calls me (in a business context, as opposed to trying to get me to buy double-glazing), it does sometimes rile me when they call up and say, "Good morning, Harry, this is Gary O'Larry from Parry PR: how are you to today?"

My first reaction often is, It's none of your damn business how I am today. I'd prefer it if they said something like, "Good morning, Mr Numbers, I'm Gary O'Larry from Parry PR. I sent an email about our client Nonsense Inc a couple of days ago and just wanted to see if you've had a chance to read it...?"

I'm perfectly comfortable with getting onto first names straight away, but when introducing yourself to someone you've never met, I just think it's a courtesy to use a title.

But then, I'm just an angry old f**t. Oh - and my first name isn't Harry, but that's beside the point Wink

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #587
01-04-2017 10:54 AM

I agree about 'how are you?' asked by someone the first time you meet them. It feels very intrusive to me. Probably because, unlike 'how do you do?', it seems to demand an answer and 'what the hell's it's go to do with you?' seems the obvious one. I occasionally fantasize about replying, 'Thanks for asking, I've got terminal cancer, but hopefully still a week or two to go!' or 'Actually I think I've got an acute episode of my chronic paranoid schizophrenia coming on', but have never quite had the nerve.

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Mr_Numbers


Posts: 511
Joined: May 2012
Post: #588
01-04-2017 11:10 AM

Quite right, Mr Orton!

I should clarify, when I said "My first reaction often is, It's none of your damn business how I am today," that is how I feel but not actually what I say - which is more usually "[bit of a pause] I'm fine, thank you. How can I help you? [in other words, get on with it and stop pretending to be my pal!]"

Grumble, grumble, youth of today, no respect, grumble, grumble...

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