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Why do we call this a "T/V" distinction?  <French tu/vous? Can't be
<Latin since it didn't have a formality distinction in the 2nd person
pronouns....

It still cracks me up that Latin American parents refer to their
toddlers collectively as "your graces". :)



On 4/24/08, Philip Newton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 9:29 AM, Tristan McLeay <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> >  But maybe a slightly more on-topic question: German text books often say
> >  you should use "Sie" when you would address someone as "Mr/s Surname",
> >  and "du" if you would address them by the firstname, but provide little
> >  additional guidance. I assume that "Sie" is not reserved for use by
> >  addressing primary and secondary school students and that therefore
> >  there's an additional unstated cultural difference here. Therefore:
> >
> >  (a) In Germany, when would you address someone by "Sie"/"Herr/Frau
> >  Familienname", and when as "du"/"Vorname"?
>
> I would address someone as "du" when:
> - I'm a child up to the age of six or so (leading to the situation
> seen in some kindergartens where children will say, "Frau Meier,
> kannst du mir bitte helfen?", since they haven't learned the du/Sie
> distinction yet but will call their teachers by their family names,
> which is how they know them as
> - I'm under 22 or so and addressing someone roughly my age
> - I'm addressing a child up to the age of about 16 or so
> - I'm addressing a relative of mine
> - I'm addressing someone I've known since our shared childhood
> - I'm addressing someone who knows me well enough that he offered to
> let me call him "du" (traditionally, this also involved drinking
> together in order to "seal" this event). Note that this is often, but
> not always, symmetrical: I might call someone "du" who calls me "Sie"
> or vice versa, especially if there's a significant difference in age
> and/or status, but perhaps simply if one person offered the "du" to
> the other but the other decided not to reciprocate, for whatever
> reason.
>   - The offer is often phrased as "My name is [given name]", implying
> "You can stop calling me Mr/Mrs [family name] and 'Sie'; please feel
> free to call me [given name] and 'du' from now on." Another
> possibilities include "You ['Sie' or 'du', depending on what you call
> the other person and on how presumptuous you are that the other person
> will reciprocate] can go ahead and call me 'du'" or "Shan't we use
> 'du'?"
>   - The offer is usually made first by the "higher" (in age and/or
> status) person; offering the "du" to someone higher than you can be
> considered presumptuous, and it - let alone calling someone "du"
> without first offering or having received an offer - might result in a
> response along the lines of "I can't remember having played in the
> sandpit together with you".
>   - It's an offer and can, therefore, be refused (by continuing to
> call the person by their family name and "Sie"). I have the impression
> that it's considered impolite to do so, however.
>
> I would address someone with "Sie" in the other cases. So, roughly:
> when  I'm older than six or so and am talking with someone who is
> older than 16 or so, isn't related to me nor roughly my age, and
> hasn't offered to let me call him "du" (yet).
>
> Also, "given name" and "du" typically go together, as do "family name"
> and "Sie", but this is not always the case.
>
> For example, in schools, it's not uncommon for teachers to address
> their pupils as "Sie" but continue to use their given name starting
> from 10th grade (roughly, age 16) - this is sometimes called
> "Hamburger Sie". It also occurs in companies such as mine, where
> nearly everyone calls co-workers by their given name, but may use
> "Sie" rather than "du" if they don't feel especially close to them
> (especially towards a superior, someone quite a bit older than you, or
> someone with whom you have little regular contact). I'm told this can
> also happen when parents address grown-up friends of their children,
> whom they know by their first name only (from how their child talks to
> them) but whom they want to use the formal "Sie" to in recognition of
> their having come of age.
>
> And on the other hand, you have situations where someone is called by
> family name and "du", such as the kindergarten example mentioned
> earlier, or in a situation (such as in retail) where employees wear
> name tags with their family name (which is what they expect customers
> to call them) and call each other with those names (in the presence of
> customers) but use "du" because they're on familiar terms with one
> another. (This is sometimes called "Berliner Sie", when the bare
> family name is used, or the "M√ľnchner Sie", when title ["Mr/Mrs"] +
> family name is used.)
>
> >  (b) In other English-speaking countries, when would you address someone
> >  as "Mr/s Surname"?
> >  (c) How do you introduce yourself? I would normally introduce myself as
> >  just "Tristan"; my surname is only relevant for filling in forms. In
> >  other places, would you sometimes introduce yourself as just
> >  "Firstname", others just "Mr/s Surname"? Would you generally introduce
> >  yourself as "Firstname Surname"?
>
> Still talking about German:
>
> I answer the telephone with "Newton", both at home and at work. When
> meeting someone in a work-related setting, I'll typically introduce
> myself as, "Newton" or "my name is Newton". Saying "My name is Mr
> Newton" sounds odd to me.
>
> I might introduce myself as "Philip Newton" when giving a
> presentation, but probably not when greeting a single person and being
> introduced; since I'd expect them to call me "Mr Newton", I'd just
> give them my family name.
>
> >  Saying "in formal circumstances" merely begs the question, because
> >  there's a picture in one of the textbooks of neighbors meeting over the
> >  fence and addressing each other as "Sie"; I have no idea how that could
> >  be "formal".
>
> Given the "requirement" for an offer to be made before you "may"
> address someone as "du", this boils down to "in what circumstances do
> people usually offer the 'du' to someone else" (specifically here:
> would neighbours tend to do so or not). I don't think I can say any
> guidelines or "typical" relationships/lengths of time that apply.
>
> Cheers,
> --
> Philip Newton <[log in to unmask]>
>

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Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>