First names (was: SIGNIFICANT OTHER)
faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Fri Apr 12 17:35:51 UTC 2002
Peter A. McGraw wrote:
>--On Thursday, April 11, 2002 6:05 PM -0400 Beverly Flanigan
><flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU> wrote:
>> But far more common is first-name address, which really bugs me. I answer
>> irately, "How dare you call me Beverly? You don't know me!" Talk about
>> getting off on the wrong foot....
>Hooray for you, Beverly! (Er, I mean, Ms. Flanigan!)
>I once told a particularly obnoxious telemarketer that one reason I
>wouldn't buy whatever he was selling was that he used my first name. He
>snapped back: "Peter, this is the 90s!" I hung up, but wished almost
>immediately that I had asked to speak to his supervisor instead.
>I was going to reply to Beverly off-list, but come to think of it, maybe
>this issue isn't entirely "impertinent." I first noticed what seemed to be
>a trend to abandoning last names entirely about ten or twelve years ago.
>This coincided with my move from the East Coast back to the West Coast,
>where things have always been a little more relaxed and informal, so I
>wondered if it was a regional thing. Apparently not, if people in
>Connecticut and Ohio also encounter it. And in any case, telemarketers ARE
Well, the *same* telemarketers are calling all of us, no matter where
we live. At some level, the first name thing has always been with us.
But two things have happened: (1) it's clearly spread to more
contexts; and (2) we've become more sensitive to it.
About 30 years ago (i. e., to mis thread a bit, not all that long
after Woodstock), my mother had a medical problem that she was having
trouble getting doctors to listen to her about (she just wanted to
know what the risks of *not* having surgery were). One doctor she
consulted, who was about half her age, in rural upstate NY (across
the river from Woodstock), greeted her by her first name, on her
initial office visit: "Well, Doris, what seems to be the problem?".
She took a quick look at his diploma on the wall, said "Nothing,
Michael," and walked out. Now that I'm seeing more and more doctors
and their office staffs, I've noticed that they all want to call me
Alice Faber faber at haskins.yale.edu
Haskins Laboratories tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA fax (203) 865-8963
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