What is the way to address a man or woman, who's name you don't know, without causing offense?
Posted 15 January 2013 - 10:05 AM
Oh geez, so what can I use? I'm going to London for a bit and I have to know these things!
So I think what the drunk guy was trying to say was that said celebrity is known as a bit of a troublemaker and he admired that?
so much weirdness. So the c-word can be used positively... that's nice, I guess
Posted 15 January 2013 - 10:10 AM
I've heard it used in a sorta nice way in Australia and in Scotland as well, but I don't think I could personally overcome 28 years of conditioning to use it myself. Maybe it just sounds extra horrible in the American accent.
Posted 15 January 2013 - 10:11 AM
Posted 15 January 2013 - 10:40 AM
Thank you very much
Posted 15 January 2013 - 11:21 AM
As a form of address? ("You boy, I want a word with you") then yes; and wouldn't use "girl" that way either (nor that phrasing TBH)
Well, to be fair, we weren't talking about groups, it was individual address. If someone were to say to an individual male ''boy'' or to an individual woman ''girl'' then I could understand people being pissed off with that.
Posted 15 January 2013 - 11:36 AM
If I'm at an English-speaking country I'd rather be called Ms or Miss. I think I'd prefer woman and not girl although I'm only 21 and I look younger so people always call me girl.
For men, in English-speaking countries, I just call everyone Sir or Mister.
Posted 15 January 2013 - 11:56 AM
However, I don't think anyone has suggested "girl" as a term of address; it's a difference between talking to someone, and talking about them; and that includes the quote I quoted you quoting (ish).
My overall argument on addressing someone is not to give them any sort of title "Excuse me" doesn't need a "Sir" "Ms" or whatever else to make sense.
Posted 15 January 2013 - 02:57 PM
An expectation that someone should know exactly how to address you in a world with such variety is itself offensive. It occurs to me that I do not call anybody anything, as in I typically use the words 'girl', 'woman' 'boy, 'man' etc. in abstract. I think some version of "Hey you" is what I use, the goal being to get the subject's attention, after which it is unnecessary/non-beneficial to refer to them unless I have their name (apparently people like hearing their names).
Posted 17 January 2013 - 09:36 AM
Swedish used to have hideously complicated forms of address. (with distinctions between calling someone say, professorskan ("The professor's wife") and "professorinnan" ("the female professor") and all sorts of complicated stuff. (if you didn't know someone's name you had to construct the sentence to avoid forms of address entirely, so you end up with stuff like "Is coffee being liked?" and yes, it sounds just as weird in swedish)
There was a more or less official reform in the government in the 60's to just start addressing everyone as "you" and it stuck.
Those old ways of addressing people really were confusing. You had constructions like "ingenjörskan". Does that mean a female engineer, or a woman married to an engineer? (If female engineers even existed in those days, which they may have not?)
In English, it's often pretty easy to avoid addressing people with titles if you are talking (unless it's someone you feel you really should use a title with) but in written English to someone I don't know (and don't know the gender), I always open with "Dear Sir/Madam," since it feels that's rarely offending to anyone and seems to be a pretty standard phrase used a lot.