General Question

flo's avatar

What does "....., sir" say as to who the person being addressed is? See detail.

Asked by flo (12653points) 1 week ago

In the southern states of USA, it is used a lot, but ouside of that I mean.
It could be the manager, supervisor etc., Who else?

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12 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

In Oregon it is just odd to call someone that. But you wouldn’t think twice about it. Just a person being weird.

In 40 years I have never called someone that unless it was ironic.

flo's avatar

@johnpowell Yes, weird is the word.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

It’s pretty clear in the military but I can’t think of any other instance,
I’ve been called Miss Lucille before

flo's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Me too. Military, or a one in million kind of person not debatable generally, as in mother Thersa if she were a male.
Miss, or Ms, or Mrs, or Madame, to me they don’t seems like they are like addressing someone with “sir”. Even in a letter “Dear Sir /Madam” they don’t sound equivalent to me.

seawulf575's avatar

“sir” is a sign of respect, just like “ma’am”. In the military it is used anytime you are addressing an officer of higher rank than yourself (or is supposed to be). I use it when addressing the cop that pulled me over. I’ll also use it when dealing with customers, etc.

kritiper's avatar

A person who deserves respect, or who is respected.

gondwanalon's avatar

It’s weird to me that saying sir or ma’am to people nowadays is being call weird.

When I was a kid >60 years ago, the adults loved it when showed them respect by addressing them as “sir” and “ma’am” and saying thank you and please.

When I testified in court last year I addressed the prosecuting attorney as “sir”. And all the simple question with “Yes sir” or “No sir”. My attorney loved it.

While in the hospital I made the mistake of calling my nurse “Ma’am”. She ran off to get her friend to see me. They laughed and made fun of me.

Last night at Thanksgiving dinner with retired military folks (that I just met) I was called “sir” by a man who served in the US Army active duty for 26 years and retired as a sergeant major (perhaps he forgot my name). I knew his name but I couldn’t help myself as I called him “sir”.

Zaku's avatar

I find that younger, usuaty male, staff at some businesses sometimes call me sir. I take it as an attempt to behave respectfully.

I think there are some guys out there who like to be called sir, and may have made their kids call them sir, and have trained their kids to do so. Or in some cases, vestiges of that whole thing.

Of course it also happens in military and maritime traditions, and is a sign of training and recognition of one’s place in the chain of command, and part of a communication/training system/culture to have a clear and smooth hierarchy of authority in such an organization.

And that has its origins in previous eras social ranks and forms of address. Even 60–70 years ago in the USA, there was much more awareness and significance placed on “correct” forms of address. “Sir” dates back to the proper title used before the name of a knight (e.g. Sir Galahad).

In most modern cases, I think it communicates some degree of that “I am at your service” sentiment.

Sagacious's avatar

I call people sir and ma’am frequently, particularly those of my parents’ generation.

seawulf575's avatar

Let’s think about the other “extreme” of calling someone sir. My daughter introduced me to a guy she liked one time. “Dad! This is Leon!” Leon greets me with a “Yo”. I could do nothing but walk away. I told my boys that when a girl introduces them to her parents, they shouldn’t greet the parents with a “Yo”. The parents will not think they are cool and they will most definitely lose IQ points in their eyes.

gondwanalon's avatar

@seawulf575 Similar situation is when a young kid calls an adult, “dude”. That’s happened to me a few times. They no idea how disrespectful that is. Looks like formally addressing people or giving them respect is old fashion nowadays.

cookieman's avatar

I generally say “yes/no sir/m’am” (as well as please, thank you, etc.) to folks at stores, restaurants, drive-thrus, etc. I think it’s just basic politeness to people who bust their tail in pretty thankless service jobs. If someone has excellent customer service or is very helpful, I’ll make a point of telling a manager if I see one.

This may be more ironically done, but I also will type, “Thank you sir/m’am” in text messages or emails to people I know well.

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