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Nik Taylor wrote:

> Of course, I'm in the south, where there's still a
> greater tendency to use "sir" and "Mr.".  Interesting north-south
> difference.  In the South, it's relatively common to use "sir" and
> "ma'am", but I've noticed that Northerners sometimes get angry if you
> call them "sir" or "ma'am".

Indeed.  My wife, who moved from North Carolina to Florida in 1961
and then (following the Yankee spoor upstream) on to New York City in 1970,
had the greatest difficulty overcoming her ingrained "Yes sir/ma'am"
and "No sir/ma'am" to all elders.  These are pronounced ['jEs=R], [jEsm&m],
[noUsR=], [nOum&m] in her rhotic accent; her mother scorned [jEsm=] and
[noU=m] as low and forbade them to be used to her.

To most Northerners, these forms in ordinary conversation seem overdone and as
such sarcastic, even when no sarcasm is intended.  (When my daughter
puts on airs, we address her as "Your Highness" until she quits.)

--
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