First names (was: SIGNIFICANT OTHER)

Jewls2u Jewls2u at WHIDBEY.COM
Sat Apr 13 16:17:05 UTC 2002

I have given this subject a bit of thought since having my daughter. My East
Coast husband grew up never even knowing the first names of the adults
around him, and West Coast me grew up never knowing the last names of my
parents friends. Among close friends first names are fine, but with
acquaintances and professional people a little formality is a good thing.
Not only does it indicate respect but it also establishes the nature of the
exchange between children and adults. There is no reason for second grade
teacher Mrs. Jones to have her students call her Sandy. She's not there to
lead playgroup, she's teaching the kids to read and write. Something as
simple as a title creates important boundaries and hierarchy. At least
that's my impression. It could be that as we become less formal as a society
titles of respect lose all meaning. I sure hope not though.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Alice Faber
Sent: Friday, April 12, 2002 9:36 AM
Subject: Re: First names (was: SIGNIFICANT OTHER)

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
>>  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.

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