Jim H.   Mon Aug 20, 2007 7:30 pm GMT
What is your thought on this word? I totally dislike the word, and don't like being referred to with it.
Guest   Mon Aug 20, 2007 7:34 pm GMT
If someone is holding an important position and if I dont know his name, I'd like him to be addressed with "sir". I don't dislike the word at all.
Jeff   Mon Aug 20, 2007 7:41 pm GMT
I dislike the word as it makes me feel old when people call me it.
Guest   Mon Aug 20, 2007 7:45 pm GMT
I like the word as it makes me feel great when people call it. (because most of the time I was scolded at by my parents when I was a kid, now by my wife.) One minute fame won't hurt ya, will it? ;)
K. T.   Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:44 pm GMT
I don't like the word or "Ma'am" and don't use them much, but my brother (he's older) uses both with good results.

I live in the South a lot of people still use this terms.
K. T.   Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:52 pm GMT
I live in the South and a lot of people still use these terms.

I type too fast.
Skippy   Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:46 am GMT
In the south this is how you refer to people you don't know... "Sir" and "ma'am" is the polite way to greet people... People from the northeast and California seem to get very irritated by it... I called a woman in her late 20s "ma'am" at the grocery store and she looked like she was about to have a heart attack... I guess she let it go because she noticed I had the traces of a southern accent...

My dad is a doctor and one of his patients made one of his nurses cry because the nurse referred to the patient (a 70+ woman from Massachusetts) as "ma'am" and she got very, very angry... She said "that's how I was raised and I will always take offense at it" and my dad sat her down and said "well, you're in the south now, so you're going to hear it a lot and you should probably get used to it."

And then, of course, there's the episode of Scrubs where the waitress refers to Turk and J.D. as "sirs" and they spend the whole episode feeling old...
K. T.   Tue Aug 21, 2007 2:03 am GMT
I may use it with older people I don't know, but I know it makes women feel older and a lot of them don't like it.

She said "that's how I was raised and I will always take offense at it" and my dad sat her down and said "well, you're in the south now, so you're going to hear it a lot and you should probably get used to it."-Skippy

Probably good advice.
Uriel   Tue Aug 21, 2007 2:07 am GMT
I used to dislike "sir" and "ma'am" a lot when I was younger, because I was raised in the northeast where it's not very socially acceptable. But now that I live where it's common and unremarked-upon, and has no social connotations beyond politeness, I use it all the time myself!
Bubbanator   Tue Aug 21, 2007 3:51 am GMT
Southern born and bred, here. We were taught from a young age to address our parents, grandparents, and anyone older than ourselves as "sir" and "ma'am". I'm just 40, but this is still the standard practice here--I often say "ma'am", even to women of my own age or younger, and have never had anyone take visible offense to it. I think it can be over-used, but within reason, I think it just demonstrates good breeding and proper manners. If I came from another part of the country, perhaps I would feel quite differently--not sure. It is also stardard practice here, and has been taught me my whole life, to address and refer to older women as "Miss __", using their first names for those you know and want to show honor toward. E.g., "Miss Charlotte" or "Miss Eleanor". I find myself automatically doing this toward any older woman I respect, but never toward anyone of the younger generation. It is also common for women to refer to older women, and sometimes men, as "sweetheart", "honey" and so on. Personally, I think this can sometimes sound demeaning, when addressed to someone deserving of respect. If you're from another area of the nation, please understand, though, that all of these terms of address are meants with respect and deference, and are not intended to offend anyone.
Lazar   Tue Aug 21, 2007 4:16 am GMT
<<Really, in the Northeast people don't say "sir" and "ma'am"? People here say it all the time, and I've never heard anyone take offense.>>

I very rarely hear "sir" and "ma'am" here in Massachusetts. You might hear them from police officers or some service professionals (like pharmacists), but that's about it. They don't really have negative connotations for me - they just seem quaint.

<<We also use it for teachers.>>

Hmm, in my schools, we never used "sir" or "ma'am" for teachers.
Skippy   Tue Aug 21, 2007 5:34 am GMT
I agree with Bubbanator... If our friends' parents wanted to be informal we could call them Ms. ___ and use their first name, like Ms. Connie, or Dr. Glen... But always yes ma'am and yes sir.
K. T.   Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:14 am GMT
I agree with Bubbanator on the "Miss" or "Miz/Ms" with a first name. That's still common and comfortable. We also say "Mr." with a first name.

I KNOW "Sir" and "Ma'am" are polite, but I feel awkward using them, even though I do use them on occasion. I guess I'm not as polite as my brother and my mother.
furrykef   Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:17 am GMT
"Sir" can also be used in informal contexts... my stepdad will refer to just about any male person as "sir" (although I don't think I've heard him refer to a woman as "ma'am", or "sir" for that matter). In particular, when "wrapping up" a conversation, he'll say "All right, sir". I've imitated this behavior a couple of times... likewise, my friend Adrian in New Jersey has used this or a similar usage in his instant messages. I've also seen on Kevin Smith's weblog -- he's a filmmaker if you haven't heard of him; most recently he did Clerks 2 -- conversations where he and his best friend Jay referred to each other as "sir", but he recognized that it was odd enough that he made a note of it ("Yes, we refer to each other as 'sir'" or something similar).

As far as I know, though, this is a fairly idiosyncratic usage rather than a dialectical feature. I sometimes say "Thank you sir/ma'am!" when dealing with a clerk at the store and the like, but other than that I typically don't use "sir" or "ma'am".

- Kef
K. T.   Wed Aug 22, 2007 4:57 am GMT
I think men can be flattered with "sir", but I think using "ma'am" with a younger lady is risky. I've heard a fair number of complaints about this.