Friday, January 8, 2010

Southern Hospitality - Sir and Ma'am

Yes or no sir and yes or no ma'am is taught from the time a child is able to speak.  You just don't say yes, no, uh-huh, nuh-huh, most of those are not excepted in the house, or your Paw-Paw's house.  It's just what is done down here.

I have another friend that did some growing up here, then moved up to Ohio.  She actually got in trouble for saying "no ma'am" to her teacher because her teacher thought she was getting smart or sassy.  Are you kidding me!  I just don't know if I could comfortably living in a world where kids didn't say yes and no ma'am.

Cultures have things like this built into the language to honor elders and people of a certain stature.  They are called honorifics and I feel it puts us and our dialect into a different category and it could be a reason we see things differently down here (see the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis).

Have a yes and no ma'am/sir story?  Tell us about them in the comments.

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6 comments:

kathi said...

I'm from Texas and was taught to say "yes Ma'am" and "yes sir" from the start. The family of my first boyfriend was from New York and they had me over for a birthday dinner. When I answered "yes Ma'am" to the mother, she sort of scolded me for making her feel old! How ridiculous--she was probably 40 so in my eyes she WAS old so what's the problem?

Debbie said...

I don't remember NOT saying "Ma'am." I'm pretty sure that must have been one of the first words out of my mouth! I do remember getting a swat on my bottom when I did not use it in a response to our family housekeeper at the time. My mom was horrified at my behavior:) My husband and I always answer one another with it; therefore, our daughter grew up knowing that she was expected to do the same. I am so proud that my 4 year old grandson and my 2 year old granddaughter already respond to adults with a "Yes or no Ma'am." My students know that they are to respond to me using it...or, at least, most of them do. Whenever they don't, I'm quick to remind them. I have gotten some strange looks from people in other parts of the country whenever I've used it. Isn't that funny? Thanks for the manners lesson!

Anonymous said...

My dad makes me say yes sir no sir and yes ma'am and no ma'am all the time. I hate having to do this but he just won't give in. I hate getting scolded and grounded so I have to go along with it. I am 17 and a few of my friends make fun of me for having to say sir all the time.

Anonymous said...

My dad is in the military and we have to answer with yes sir no sir or yes maam, no ma'am if we don't want to get our butts kicked. Absolutely mandatory in our house.

Tyler B.

Anonymous said...

My dad would kick my rear end if I ever answered an adult without tagging on a sir or maam at the end of the sentence. I also, have always had to adress my elders with yes sir no sir yes maam no ma'am.

Anonymous said...

I will be starting college next month and I still have to "sir" and "ma'am" my parents. Actually, they insist on it and they have always made me do this. It sounds weird to me that some of my friends never seem to "sir" or "ma'am" their parents or other adults. I prefer not to get a sore rear end, so I always comply. Not sure I will do this to my elders while in college, but I imagine I will make my kids do the same once I am a parent.