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----- Original Message -----
I've just been reading
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_French

and this:
"A notable difference in grammar which received considerable attention in France during the 1990s is 
the feminine form of many professions, which traditionally did not have a feminine form.[16] In 
Quebec, one writes nearly universally une chercheuse [17] "a researcher", whereas in France, un 
chercheur and, more recently, un chercheur and une chercheuse, are used."
pi
came up. As a speaker of Australasian English, I'm reminded of the "softening" of registers by the use 
of the diminutive suffix: "bikkie" for biscuit, "hankie" for handkerchief, etc, in Australasian English.
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I should think that the use of the diminutive suffix is common throughout the Anglophone world.  I'm from the Commonwealth of Virginia, USA, and I've said "hankie" all my life.  Then there's puppy, kitty, potty, nightie, piggy, and a host of others.

Charlie