Submitted by FuckCopyright in lobby

I wish we as a global society could do away with titles. I speak as someone who has come from a linguistic background where grammatical gender exists only in loanwords, notably from Spanish. As someone who grew up with such a linguistic background mostly when I was young, it was a little relieving to not be reminded of my gender except in the few circumstances when they truly mattered.

I'm not a fan of the extensive use of "Mr.", "Mrs.", "sir", "ma'am" and the like. Not only can they be problematic for those with issues surrounding gender, but the very words themselves try to enforce a hierarchy, a hierarchy between the client and the individual offering the service, the teacher and the taught and so on, and implies that the individual higher up in the hierarchy is less faultless. I am also aware of "Mx." with regards to gender, but like neopronouns, I find it difficult to get used to, and "Mx." only solves the gendered problem of titles.

Not even a planned universal language like Esperanto (the most popular of them, but still spoken by comparatively few people) can help this, as it uses gendered titles and pronouns. Some languages, such as the one I've been raised with, are largely genderless, but those languages are not dominant in the number of speakers save for the possible exception of Mandarin, and all naturally developed languages carry with them a great degree of cultural baggage too. Japanese seems to have the right idea of addressing individuals by their first or preferred name by default (plus a gender neutral and familiar suffix) and avoiding "you" unless absolutely necessary, but beyond addressing familiar individuals, Japanese people are expected to abide by a complicated system of honorifics.

I do not prefer the title "comrade" widely used either, since I only really see them being used by authoritarian tankie states such as North Korea and across the Soviet Union, and that's the association that "comrade" has grown to have now, by virtue of its use in those contexts. I may prefer the title "citizen" used, but this reminds me very starkly of the French Revolution, and feels inappropriately stilted and contextualized. It'll be an inappropriate title to use too, particularly for individuals who may be visiting a foreign country. Using "customer", "visitor" or "tourist" within informal correspondence may be a more accurate title to describe such a person, but it may also be an alienating or even insulting title too, reducing the addressed individuals to their current roles. "Citizen" may also be an alienating title for those who do not subscribe to the tenets of nationalism.

Generally I don't find myself talking to people much for reasons unrelated, and for the times I do talk to people, I generally only use their first name or a name they prefer to use - the only exception to that rule has been during much of compulsory education, when I have been expected to use titles, for instance, "Mr. Johnson". I've never even used "sir" or "ma'am" to the best of my memory. I generally find using titles quite cumbersome and alienating, in that it further affirms that a more personal relationship with an individual is off-limits.

In more informal situations, I would have used "dude", as it's emblematic of the colloquial language I prefer too, but this term can be too gendered for some people, so I have effectively abandoned using this. I personally find it less gendered and more appealing than "bro", and less effort to use than "homie". Otherwise, I now generally result to using people's names. Addressing someone whose name I do not know will be more difficult though, especially to do politely as a British national and/or in a society where using titles and proper etiquette can be expected.

I wonder what's the least offensive and least hierarchical manner in which I can address people, especially for those whose names I do not know and particularly for those who may not wish to give a name, and for situations where asking for someone's name is otherwise inconvenient. I could just use "you", but I find this intimidating sometimes too and can be a little hesitant to use this. What do you think of the matter in general too?

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kore wrote

my dad taught me a great trick, you can give honorifics people that would normally address you with an honorific. so cashiers, waitresses, etc. it's a way to explicitly reject that honorifics are supposed to enforce some sort of hierarchy

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bloodrose wrote

I think I picked up this habit from my uncle. I have always called people who are in service roles "sir" or "ma'am" as a way to show that I respect them and the service they provide and do not see myself as above but instead as grateful. I've been wondering how to do this in a gender neutral way, though. And wasn't sure how to ask about it because people would say "why are you using an honorific?" but your reasoning is, I think, why I do it. :)

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catachresis wrote

As a non-binary service worker gendered honorifics always make me feel weird. I appreciate pleases, thank yous, and questions about my well-being/small talk. The creation of an gender neutral equivalent to sir or ma’am would be nice but I don’t know what that would be.

In the hypothetical where I wasn’t uncomfortable being called sir or ma’am, I think I would appreciate it.

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bloodrose wrote

I should say I stopped doing the sir/ma'am thing about a year ago. But now I feel like a meanie-pants. I still say please and thank you a lot, but it doesn't feel the same. I want some way to verbally honor the person providing me a needed service. :(

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catachresis wrote

“I appreciate you” is fucking amazing to hear.

I’ve had a hard time saying it recently and now I have a goal to add it to my daily vocabulary. Hooray!

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FuckCopyright OP wrote

I'd generally tell them thanks for their work, although I do come from the UK where we're more reserved, so such sincere statements may be a bit rare. I think expressions of gratitude are much more encouraged in America to the point it can be difficult to tell whether someone is being sincere or not.

I will need to find a way myself to do this, where some people expect to be addressed or address others with "sir", "ma'am", "bro" etc.

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bloodrose wrote

I am indeed an American and we say thank you so danged much. I literally sign my emails "thank you". When in the drive through, I think I say thank you every time an item is handed to me so if there are multiple of us in the car getting drinks, there's like 4 or 5 thank yous.

However, it isn't that I'm looking necessarily to say thank you, but to honor the person who provides a service. Like, what use am I to the world? I count money for shareholders. But people who make food and deliver groceries, they actually do shit. They should have some honorific that shows that I respect them as being useful and awesome without saying "you're useful and awesome" every time. I don't think "thank you" covers that sentiment.

I've been sad trying to think of what I could possibly replace it with.

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FuckCopyright OP wrote (edited )

Hmm... this is tricky. My parents, as gender policing and... backward and repressive as they are, are healthcare workers and are kind of being shafted by the government (and according to them at least, the patients they're caring for and some of the colleagues they're dealing with). For them, any form of gratitude is appreciated from them. This will be more tricky in an environment where expressing gratitude is more of a social norm.

If you are in a position to help people who make food and deliver groceries, try going the extra mile? My mother, as much as she shouldn't be doing this, prepares for gender reveal parties, and generally does what her colleagues don't, by like preparing food from her background whereas in some occasions, her colleagues only bring in snacks for meetings or other events. Maybe you could help these people who make food and deliver groceries have food on their table or introduce them to a unique experience they're unlikely to encounter in their daily lives, without needing to give them money too? If not, I'm sorry if I can't think of anything at the moment; I hope someone else here can help you. Just don't offer to participate in gender reveal parties.

Here in the UK, a pay rise was promised to everyone but healthcare workers, and healthcare workers are frankly feeling insulted by this government measure.

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mokes wrote

could you give an example?

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kore wrote

in american culture you usually wouldnt call a cashier "ma'am", for example. they'd be the one calling you ma'am because youre the customer. but you can invert that power dynamic by calling them ma'am

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Vulgar_Soda wrote

Some people I know take offense to ma'am. What if we started groveling at cashiers' feet as a token of respect? or maybe even paying tribute in the form of human sacrifice? Love your cashier, kill their boss.

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FuckCopyright OP wrote

I think they meant saying something like "thank you, cashier" in response to the cashier saying something like "dear customer".

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Ennui wrote

I’d be glad to get rid of honorifics and gendered titles. Since I’ve begun learning German, though, it’s hard to imagine how the gender system could ever be removed from the language. I think it’d be more effective to start referring to gendered grammar using non-gendered terms than to completely remove it from language. For instance, referring to “masculine” words as “soft” words and “feminine” as “hard.” I’d liken it to using BCE instead of BC when referring to time. And then instead of referring to people by their gendered nouns one could use either the hard or soft or medium form exclusively. That’s on a societal level, though.

I’m not a fan of the Latinx, Mx stuff because it breaks up the flow of the language, but it’s proof that removing gendered language on larger scales is at least somewhat possible.

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FuckCopyright OP wrote

I’m not a fan of the Latinx, Mx stuff because it breaks up the flow of the language, but it’s proof that removing gendered language on larger scales is at least somewhat possible.

I don't know how well other changes in languages were popularly received, but this hasn't been, which is likely why it feels unnatural.

In such gendered languages, I'd maybe default to the neutral gender of words if it's possible. On the relatively brief time that I've been studying Russian, some adjectives and even loanwords/nouns seem to use the neutral gender by default.

I would still try to find a way to address the person I'm talking to without insulting them (especially those who deserve it), but I can really only do this in a non-verbal manner for now.

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Ennui wrote

In German I know that there is one set gender for most words, and variable words like "Student" (masculine) or "Studentin" (feminine) lack an explicit neutral form, meaning that when referring to people who'd prefer to be neutral you still lump them in with the masculine form. I might be wrong though.

There has definitely been a trend towards language that embodies fewer gender and status stereotypes in recent times overall, though, in many gendered languages. For instance, in German it is rare to use "Mädchen" when referring to a girl because it is diminutive (or so my professor says). You still inevitably refer to them as female, but it's less offensive than calling them a virgin maiden. Also, more people in Germany are becoming uncomfortable with using the formal pronouns.

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masque wrote

With respect to Esperanto, I don't think I've ever actually heard someone call someone sinjoro/sinjorino in person. But I agree that the handling of gender is Esperanto's biggest flaw.

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isvarahparamahkrsnah wrote

In the UK some folks are addressed as Lord... and Sir...

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FuckCopyright OP wrote (edited )

There are some people who have such titles and statuses, the formally defined aristocracy still thrives in the nation. I only accept using them for legal purposes - it's more when it's used among ordinary people when there's no legal obligation to use the titles between each other that it kinda pisses me off more.

Perhaps because of my religious upbringing, "Lord" doesn't seem as problematic to me, likely because I've been expected to receive it favorably.

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