Discussion of a brief note I posted here a couple of days ago, on boss as an address term, brings up two points; the need to clarify what kind of address term is at issue in this case; and the difficulty of gauging the sociolinguistic status of some usage, when all you have to go on is your own experience.
Archive for the ‘Social life’ Category
For some time now, I’ve noticed a pattern of address term usage in local restaurants and cafes (three of them): I am addressed by servers and other employees there as boss. The speakers are all Hispanic men, younger than me (I’ve never gotten boss from anyone else; I don’t have employees of my own); and of course it’s crucial that I’m male; and it might be relevant that I’m a regular customer in all three places; and it might be relevant that the atmosphere of all three places is informal. (Some of these men sometimes address me as Arnold, but other times as boss.)
I assume that this is a resolution of a puzzle in social relations: sir would be the standard address term in service contexts, but seems far too formal and distancing given the social situation in these three places; and Arnold might seem too intimate on some occasions; so what to use instead?
What I don’t know is where boss (said with a friendly, even jocular tone) comes from. And why just Hispanic men? (Non-Hispanic and female servers seem always to opt for first names in such places; if they don’t know them already, they find them out and then memorize them.)
An NYT op-ed piece yesterday by Emily Bazelon, “Defining Bullying Down”, about what should and should not count as bullying. Bazelon:
… “bullying” isn’t the same as garden-variety teasing or a two-way conflict. The word is being overused — expanding, accordionlike, to encompass both appalling violence or harassment and a few mean words.
This morning on KQED, a “Perspectives” piece by Bob Engel, a marriage and family therapy intern in Sebastopol CA, arguing that in matters of same-sex committed relationships, words matter; partner is separate from, and not equal to, husband/wife.
On Facebook today, Richard Jasper announced that it had been a year since he was legally married (in New York):
Oh, yeah! Happy 1-year “legally married” anniversary to Naoyuki Saito! Luv ya bunches! (We still maintain that our “real” anniversary is March 1, 2003, the date of the great “tuxedo shop” date!)
Note the distinction between their legal anniversary and their “real” anniversary (or simply anniversary, with no modifier), dates that for same-sex couples can be far separated in time.
Mike Reaser followed up with a similar story, but putting a compact name to the occasion:
We’re similar – our [his and Bryon Elliott's] Anniversary is May 25, 1994, while our Legalversary is July 25, 2007.
Pretty much any place of any size has neighborhoods, areas (usually named) that are part of a local folk classification of places within the larger place — though the neighborhoods often take on some sort of more official status. Here, for example, is one map of the neighborhoods of San Francisco:
At the top of the news this week are the demonstrations and assaults in Libya, Cairo, and Yemen over an anti-Muslim film. There are several threads to this story, but one of them has to do with the making of the film as a perceived insult crime. From my Pussy Riot posting:
Pussy Riot’s offense was an “insult crime”, disrespecting some public figure, religion, or political entity. They managed to pull off a trifecta (in the eyes of the authorities), disrespecting Vladimir Putin, Christianity (in the form of the Russian Orthodox Church), and the Russian state. And as a result inciting others to follow them in their disrespect. So of course they had to be harshly punished. [This punishment might now be ameliorated. Stay tuned.]
In this case, the punishment was meted out through the Russian legal system. In the Innocence of Muslims case, as in the Danish cartoons events of a few years ago, punishment comes from angry mobs. And in the earlier controversy over Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, the initial judgment came from a religious authority (in the form of a fatwa from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran), followed by mob violence and assassinations.
In each situation, the offense was against religion: disrespecting, insulting, a religion.
Passed on by Wipe Out Homophobia, this editorial cartoon by Dave Simpson of the Tulsa Tribune:
An argument that’s been made by many people on other occasions, in various formulations.
A recent Scenes From a Multiverse:
So, it starts with coverage of the latest crowd gunning-down (James Dao and Serge F. Kovaleski, “Music Style Is Called Supremacist Recruiting Tool”, NYT yesterday):
… the shootings [at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee] also shined a light on an obscure cultural scene that is helping keep the movement energized and providing it with a powerful tool for recruiting the young and disaffected: white power music, widely known as “hatecore.”