Someone in a comment many postings ago asked how I felt about younger people calling older people by their given names, without honorifics attached. Giving some thought to the question, my answer is "It depends."
What does it depend on? For one thing, it depends on the familial connection. For me, no grandparent is ever going to be called by a first name without either Babi or Zaydie attached before that name. In one branch of our families even that is too informal for the relationship, and the children there call their grandparents Babi Smith or Zaydie Smith. Now go to the next level of relationship--aunts and uncles. Growing up we called all of our aunts and uncles by their first names with an honorific coming before--Tante Libby and Uncle Shlomo, or Mima Rivka and Fetter Boruch. Even when we were speaking about them rather than to them we always included the honorific. Things got a little less formal the further up the family tree a relationship was. We called our parents' cousins, who were, after all, our cousins as well, by their first names, no honorific used. Their children did the same to my parents. But we also did so because that was THEIR preference and they let us know that.
Now move out of actual family relationships. When I was younger society in general was more formal. We called our parents' friends--and indeed all adults--Mr. X and Mrs. X. For a few who were very close to the family, we attached the honorific of Aunt or Uncle in front of their first names--they had honorary family status. And there were a rare few who themselves insisted that we call them by their first names, no honorific or title needed. Today there are many adults who don't want that level of formality; their preference is to be called by their first name, and they let you know that.
And then there are some of us, me included, who prefer to have an honorific attached to our names. And sometimes we get what we want, and sometimes not. I've found this is much less a problem with those not related to us than with our relatives. There is not a single one of our children's friends who calls us by our first names. Yes, some have shortened the name to Mrs. K rather than the full name, and there's the one who, as a gesture of the degree of friendliness, calls me Momma K. And then there are a few of the nieces and nephews whose parents decided that being called Aunt and Uncle was just too formal and they didn't want it. Unfortunately, they also included us in that dictate, even if it's not our preference. No, I don't like being called by my first name without the honorific attached by nieces and nephews. And no, the relationship with those nieces and nephews is just not as close as with the ones who see us as something special, who see us as Aunt and Uncle.
My personal feeling is that we, each of us, should have the right to decide by what name we will be called in any given situation. And if we want an honorific attached then that's how it should be. Can you really imagine going up to a Rosh Yeshiva and addressing him "Hiya Roshie" or "Hiya Yankie"? Of course that wouldn't happen--it would be highly disrespectful. Well, there are others for whom respect should be shown as well, and using an honorific is one way of according that respect. And not just respect, but love as well.
Feel free to disagree with me, but this is my opinion and I'm sticking to it.
I hate, no make that HATE it when people from the family use my first name without adding the appropriate title. We have nieces and nephews in Israel where things seem to be very informal and when they are here visiting or we are there visiting I've made it clear that I am their dodah, not some kid in the playground.
At first they resisted. My answer was simply not to respond when they spoke to me. Eventually they pretty much remember. It's easier when they are here because they hear the other nieces and nephews calling me aunt and they fall in line.
I'm on the other side on this one. I don't care if someone calls me by my name, no matter who it is. That said I make two exceptions to the rule--my kids can't call me by my name and my grandkids can't either. There I believe it's a matter of derech eretz.
I hate when people insist their kids call me Mrs. I want to be called by my name.
Kids and others are not being disrespectful by using first names if they were not taught to use a different title/name. I think in this day and age using "Mr." and "Mrs." which is typically reserved for older people can be insulting because it suggests that the speaker views the addressee as old or frumpy. These days, the more respectful thing in many contexts may be to use the first name. This is coming from someone now in her 50's who still can't address the parents of childhood friends (now in their 70s and 80s) by their first names. However, I don't want to be called "Mrs. or Ms. X" by younger people. I've also found that use of a title can be rather superficial with respect to whether or not someone is respectful. Actions and content of what is said and how its said are far more important.
"No, I don't like being called by my first name without the honorific attached by nieces and nephews. And no, the relationship with those nieces and nephews is just not as close as with the ones who see us as something special, who see us as Aunt and Uncle."
Bravo. Right on.
I have the same situation and reaction.
Assuming you are quite a bit older than them, as most uncles and aunts are, they should be respecting you in their speech for the age difference alone, let alone the uncle and aunt angle.
Someone in a comment many postings ago asked how I felt about younger people calling older people by their given names, without honorifics attached.
Hmmm, "older" is often a landmine in itself. How do you define older?
For example, should I call my aunt that is about 2 years older than me, "tante"? If I did as a child, and probably even now, she would have killed me :-)
Sure Mark older can be comparative and may not be such a huge difference as your aunt example shows. However, if a person falls into the same age category as your parents or even older than that then they are "old enough" to be using an honorific when speaking to them
Anonymous, when you say I think in this day and age using "Mr." and "Mrs." which is typically reserved for older people can be insulting because it suggests that the speaker views the addressee as old or frumpy, since when is being "old" something to be ashamed of or to want to hide, and since when is old equated to frumpy? We beg God to give us arichas yomim, and then we regard getting those years and growing older as something somehow negative? Only in a culture which venerates the young and focuses on them such that age and experience and gained wisdom don't count for as much as being "youthful" and "with it."
Post a Comment