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A note on diminutives

Vacula did a post claiming to reply to Michael Nugent’s post that asked him two questions. Vacula’s post didn’t reply at all; it ignored Nugent’s questions entirely and instead went on and on about how horrible I am. That’s not what Nugent asked, so it’s silly to say

This post will address Nugent’s most recent post and continue our ongoing dialogue.

One thing Vacula said was about my objection to his and Porter’s calling me “Ophie” – I pointed out that I don’t call them Justie and Karlie.

One should notice that the only reason Ophelia Benson was being called Ophie was because Karla Porter used the name in a satire piece, an episode of ‘As The Atheist World Turns,’ titled “ATAWT: Please Be My Agent Ophie.” While Karla was writing the piece, she didn’t use real full names, but rather only made references to actual people [Notice the characters EB, L Moore, Ophie, and Porter (who isn’t even necessarily Karla)] . People ‘in on the joke,’ then, would easily get it.

But, no, that interpretation is the implausible one on Ophelia’s account and the name ‘Ophie’ is just to “belittle” Ophelia. Ophelia is complaining so much and taking great offense to a shortened version of her name. Give me a break.

Porter agreed in a comment, and added some geographico-linguistic expertise to amplify the point.

I have positions my first and last names as diminutive. It doesn’t irk me in the least. After more than 10 years of living in Latin America where use of diminutives is a sign of affection I have nothing whatsoever against them. Some people just don’t get it. to be quite frank…

It’s my turn to say give me a break. Or, more bluntly, bullshit.

Diminutives can be a sign of affection everywhere. Can be. That doesn’t mean they invariably are. They are a sign of affection when they come from people who like you. When they come from people who hate you, they are not a sign of affection. They are belittling. Who doesn’t know this?

Has Porter never even seen Tootsie for christ’s sake? Remember that? “My name is Dorothy. Not Tootsie, not Honey, not Sweetie. Dorothy.” And that wasn’t even about a diminutive nickname used as a weapon, it was just about a diminutive nickname used with casual patronizing dismissiveness.

I was arguing with some guy in comments on Jerry Coyne’s blog, years ago (obviously) – I think it was JJ Ramsey – and the guy called me “dear” in a response. I told him to knock it off, and Jerry backed me up, agreeing that it was sexist.

It’s very similar to the way the second person singular works in many European languages (and used to work in English). Tu, te, dich, and so on – they can be intimate and affectionate between relatives and friends – and they can be insulting or a marker of inferior status. It depends.

If people who are harassing you daily call you by a diminutive of your name, it is not a sign of affection. Karla Porter did not call me “Ophie” as a sign of affection. What she said in that comment is complete bullshit.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. stewart says

    There’s a really easy way to find out if the diminutive was affectionate or not: ask Porter point-blank whether or not she likes you; that’s either a “yes” or a “no” and then our “mystery” is dispelled.

  2. stewart says

    I was wondering whether to relate to that point right away. If she were to say “yes” then a whole new slew of unanswered questions present themselves. And of course, “no” would mean that her mentioning affectionate diminutives was nothing but an attempt to paper over hostility with bullshit.

  3. says

    Saying that it’s okay to refer to someone by a diminutive form of their name, when that’s not what they go by, is stupid enough. Saying that it’s a demonstration of affection is bullshit of a “They must not even care how obviously they’re spewing bullshit” caliber. Come the fuck on. Legitimate recipients of terms of endearment do not feel condescended to, patronized, written off, or otherwise put off by those terms. Anyone with an IQ in positive numbers knows how Ophelia could be expected to react to being called “Ophie.”

  4. says

    Yup same idea goes for japanese honorifics.

    From wikipedia
    Chan (ちゃん?) is a diminutive suffix; it expresses that the speaker finds a person endearing. In general, chan is used, but is not limited to, babies, young children, grandparents and teenagers. It may also be used towards cute animals, lovers, close friends, any youthful woman, or between friends. Using chan with a superior’s name is considered to be condescending and rude.

  5. Anthony K says

    They’ve noticed you don’t like it and they continue to do it. As a sign of affection.

    Yup. They’re taking advantage of your ‘weakness’ because they really, really like you.

  6. Martha says

    Ophelia is such a pretty name. Were it mine, I would have to like someone a whole hell of a lot to put up with being called “Ophie.”

    I am rather impressed that they manage to be juvenile and patronizing at the same time. I would have thought that would be difficult to pull off, but apparently not…

    (perhaps some snark in that second bit)

  7. screechymonkey says

    Weren’t these the same people who went nuts about a letter addressing Richard Dawkins as “Dear Dick”?

    (And, for what it’s worth, I agree that it was a poor choice given the possible interpretation as a gendered slur, whether it was intended that way or not. But I’m pretty sure that a lot of the Pit Crew also objected that it was insulting and disrespectful to call the Great Man by a diminutive.)

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    Katherine Lorraine etc @ # 12 – Unless one is speaking to the honorable Mr. Charlie, of course.

  9. stewart says

    I just remembered, after many years of not thinking about it: I did actually know an Ophelia who was often called Ophie. She was a Doberman and belonged to the lawyer who founded the theatre group in which I was then active.

  10. Richard Smith says

    My first name has two common nicknames. I prefer the full name, will usually tolerate the “R” nickname, but refuse to respond to being addressed by the “D” nickname (after the first time, which nets them the “No D” warning). Some might consider it juvenile to be so defensive about one syllable, but it is my name, and the “D” name can be so easily loaded with all sorts of negative connotations with just a change in inflection. As for the “D” diminutive, I am not a faux turtleneck.

    I am not a Dick. I am a Richard.

  11. MyaR says

    Y’know, not liking being called by a diminutive is one of the reasons I choose to go by my middle name. There just aren’t any good diminutives for Mya. I would’ve thought Ophelia was a similar name. It never would’ve occurred to me to refer to anyone (including a baby*) named Ophelia as “Ophie”. a) It sound like “oaf-y” and b) Why would I just decide to call someone I don’t know by a name I’ve never heard them (or anyone else) use themselves?

    Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen various tweets calling you “Ophie” for quite a while, in a clearly mocking way.

    *but possibly a lab or golden retriever. The rules for acceptable animal diminutives are much broader than for people. However, I don’t think I’d call a Doberman I didn’t know by anything other than it’s most formal name.

  12. says

    Richard – Well quite. It’s my name. If I wanted everybody calling me “Ophie” I would just call myself that, wouldn’t I.

    Now I want a picture of a Doberman…

  13. stewart says

    I doubt I have a picture of “Ophie” (not impossible, though), but if you need a picture, I can scan one in of the Doberman we had about a decade earlier.

  14. Anthony K says

    Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen various tweets calling you “Ophie” for quite a while, in a clearly mocking way.

    You have.

    These two shitbags are straight up fucking lying, because they’re too fucking cowardly to own up to their shittiness.

    So much for #braveheroes.

  15. MyaR says

    Also, what kind of “new media” expert mixes their paid professional, personal, and unpaid sort-of professional into the same account? Especially given what the professional work involves.

  16. says

    If it were “affectionate,” then they’d knock it off when you said you didn’t like it.

    Now that I know Justin Vacula doesn’t mind diminutive nicknames, and is younger than me, I think he’d be just fine with me calling him “kiddo” and “sport.”

    Oh, and “li’l asshole.” No, no, it’s affectionate. It has “li’l” in front.

  17. says

    Labs will let you call them anything, anything at all. Dobermans not so much.

    That’s ok Stewart, I’ll just find a generic one!

    And yes about other sneery tweets calling me Ophie – there are masses of them. ElevatorGATE alone has millions*.

    Funny story there. ElevatorGATE is always renaming himself. He renamed himself “Give Ophie money” so latsot did, and tweeted so. Thanks, ElevatorGATE!

    *hyperbole

  18. Anthony K says

    He renamed himself “Give Ophie money” so latsot did, and tweeted so. Thanks, ElevatorGATE!

    Proof positive they’re only being affectionate. Like in Latin America.

  19. ~G~ says

    What a steaming pile of BS. I agree that Ophelia is beautiful so why would anyone like, “Ophie”? Ophie is something you’d name an anthropomorphized sofa on an animated children’s show.

    Do they honestly think so little of people’s intelligence? Or so highly of their own in comparison?

  20. Bernard Bumner says

    Juvenile dishonesty and cowardice. Vacula is just a rather clumsy bully.

    Does he really think that any impartial observer will buy into the idea that this is all Ophelia’s fault for not tolerating their supposed affectionate use of the diminutive? And that after he’s just made the claim that it was used in a satirical portrayal? (i.e. an attack)

    But, no, that interpretation is the implausible one on Ophelia’s account and the name ‘Ophie’ is just to “belittle” Ophelia. Ophelia is complaining so much and taking great offense to a shortened version of her name. Give me a break.

    Vacula’s inability to formulate a coherent argument and crystallize it in writing is simply horrible, horrible, horrible. How on earth did he read that and think that it makes sense? Are we to believe that Vacula has reached his mid-twenties without ever being exposed to (even the concept of) condescension or belittlement?

    I find it difficult to imagine that even his supporters can read such nakedly obvious bullshit and consider it clever, credible, or persuasive.

    For someone so obviously devoted to self-promotion, he has very little ability or talent in presentation of himself as anything other than a fool. He ties himself in knots at every step; petty, blatant, stupid lie heaped upon lie.

    I wonder whether Vacula would be a campaigning skeptic if he thought that no-one else was watching?

  21. says

    Didn’t some of the slymepitter people point out the use of “cupcake” being a horrible slur?

    Cupcakes are sweet, like candy.
    Why these everlasting gobstoppers object to that I have no idea.

  22. says

    It’s really rude to call someone by a dimunitive if that’s what they don’t call themselves. I called a colleague “Mel” and she emailed “I don’t like Mel, I’m called Melanie,” which is perfectly fine. If someone I didn’t know called me “RosyPosy” I’d know that was some kind of put down. If it was someone I’d been fighting with on the internet I’d be absolutely sure they were trying to piss me off. Friends and family are different of course. You call someone you don’t know by a dimunitive or a cutesy-wootsy pet name if you want to annoy and insult them.

    I’ve never known anyone else called “Ophelia” outside of Hamlet. A very pretty name. Shortened to “Ophie” it reminds me of that kid in The Andy Griffiths Show who was called “Opie”. All right for a nine year old boy, but not for a grown woman.

  23. doubtthat says

    Hey, I call my dog, “boy,” so when I use it with you, it’s a term of affection…

    These are old battles. Vacula’s side lost a long time ago.

  24. Karla Porter says

    Perhaps you did not notice that last night because you were upset about the use of Ophie I changed the post to say Ophelia in all instances and changed my own name to Karlie as you yourself suggested. I had refrained from OB since I felt you might think I was referring to the feminine hygiene product. I myself took plenty of ribbing in the military with the initials KP but I never took it in a mean way, just in good fun and managed to stay away from KP duty they entire time. I have read your post here as well as all the comments on it and it saddens me to know there is so much bitterness. I hope you are able to get over it. I’m serious, not joking. I suppose this comment will bring on an onslaught of microscopic examinations from you and your readers of each word and its hidden meaning or agenda. There is none.

  25. evilDoug says

    I never really thought of Goggle as a comedy site before. Searching for Karla Porter is a liar brings up

    Are your senior managers psychopaths? – Karla Porter
    karlaporter.com/workforce/are-your-senior-managers-psychopaths
    Jan 21, 2012 – KARLA PORTER. Human Capital & New … Is someone you work with a cunning, aggressive, manipulative, charming, liar? Apparently, mixed …

    ~~~
    Over the years I have had quite a few kids call me Dougie, trying to be funny. I tell them that if they want to tack the ie on, that they have to use the Scottish pronunciation, which is Doogie (double o as in boo). Usually cracks them up totally.
    Also neatly mangled into Dougly.

  26. ~G~ says

    I think I was a little too harsh on JV above and I should make it up to him with some affection. Tonight I will crochet a little bonnet with lots of ruffles just like I did for my puppy and send it to him. If he refuses to put it on and take a picture I’ll tell everyone how unreasonable he is for rejecting my olive branch.

  27. says

    Karla Porter, I wasn’t “upset” about your calling me “Ophie” – don’t try to make this about my being upset. It’s about your contemptuous harassment and your dishonest denial of it. No, you don’t get cookies for changing the wording afterward. No, you didn’t have any good reason to bring up “the feminine hygiene product” (whatever the hell that even is). No, it doesn’t “sadden” you. Don’t bullshit me.

    And don’t tell me you have no agenda. Your agenda is at the very least to have yourself endless fun at my expense.

  28. doubtthat says

    @32

    You said you were sorry, you made a change, that’s all you can do (of course, it’s up to Ophelia whether she accepts your apology). For my part, I appreciate the effort.

    Now, are you going to keep making childish podcasts where you read facebook exchanges in an attempt to humiliate the people writing? Because that will likely have a large impact on whether your apology is viewed as sincere or just face-saving.

  29. tonyinbatavia says

    Awwww, ElevatorGATE was feeling left out because we hadn’t yet donated to Ophelia on his behalf. Garsh, I almost feel bad.

    Okay. Done. There you go, wittle ElevatorGATE, I just made a donation to the “You Hate, Ophelia Profits!” fund in your name. Don’t you feel better now?

    On a different note, ElevatorGATE’s assholishness was so inspirational that I also made a donation to the FtB fund for hosting Ophelia. That’s not a “You Hate, Ophelia Profits!” donation; that was more of a “I Despise Shitbags Like ElevatorGATE So I Was Inspired to Give to FtB, Too” donation.

    (So the fuckwits are still hopelessly clawing about for a decent response to the tip jar. Yeah, good luck with that.)

  30. says

    I suppose this comment will bring on an onslaught of microscopic examinations from you and your readers of each word and its hidden meaning or agenda. There is none.

    We understand that you have no hidden meaning or agenda. All your meanings and agendas are blatantly obvious. Subtlety, much like comedy and satire, eludes you folks.

    But good on you for removing the diminutive.

  31. doubtthat says

    Since Ophelia posted while I was writing, I just want to be clear that I wasn’t trying to accept any apology on her behalf. She deals with the nonsense, and I think her interpretation of events is correct.

    My only point was that all Karla can do at this point is apologize and make the change, but the degree to which anyone takes her seriously will be determined by her future actions. Engaging in that bullshit with Vacula will certainly make her post here less compelling.

  32. Bernard Bumner says

    I have read your post here as well as all the comments on it and it saddens me to know there is so much bitterness. I hope you are able to get over it. I’m serious, not joking.

    So you wrote a satire, an attack, without any background knowledge of the disputes which explicitly provide the context, plot, and dialogue for your skit?

    Otherwise, I would imagine that you could well comprehend the source of the “bitterness”.

    You proud, nasty, bully.

  33. says

    Again, the emotional maturity of 12-year-olds. These people need to be grounded, sent to their rooms and have their computers confiscated until they start acting like adults.

  34. throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says

    Karla Porter, you totally buy into the narrative that the problem with FTBullies is that they’re totally overly emotional and should get over it and then everything would be peace love and understanding, don’t you?

  35. noxiousnan says

    From Vacula’s piece:

    One should notice that the only reason Ophelia Benson was being called Ophie was because Karla Porter used the name in a satire piece, an episode of ‘As The Atheist World Turns,’ titled “ATAWT: Please Be My Agent Ophie.” While Karla was writing the piece, she didn’t use real full names, but rather only made references to actual people [Notice the characters EB, L Moore, Ophie, and Porter (who isn’t even necessarily Karla)] . People ‘in on the joke,’ then, would easily get it.

    But, no, that interpretation is the implausible one on Ophelia’s account and the name ‘Ophie’ is just to “belittle” Ophelia. Ophelia is complaining so much and taking great offense to a shortened version of her name. Give me a break.

    Sooo, the name shorten wasn’t meant disparagingly even though the other persons’ name changes were to initials or last names? Riiiiight. And how silly of Benson to read anything in to that especially when Vacula deigned to “consider stopping” (using the term Ophie).

  36. Aratina Cage says

    So the fuckwits are still hopelessly clawing about for a decent response to the tip jar. Yeah, good luck with that.

    Oh, they try and try. Trusty old Renee just gave it her best shot with a cookie-cutting “Dear Muslima” sneer on Twitter. (Search under the #FTBullies hashtag to find it.)

  37. stewart says

    What I’ve been thinking is: this stuff on the internet doesn’t go away like an unconsidered verbal insult might. Once it’s out there, no one can control how long everyone can see it. I don’t consider it inconceivable that those who’ve engaged in this kind of stuff under their real names (and let’s face it, many don’t, which only makes them more reprehensible) might one day be googled by someone potentially important to their careers. They run a serious risk of being considered loose cannons, who lash out without giving any thought to damage control until they need it (by when it is, of course, too late). Forget courtesy and politeness for a moment, doesn’t naked self-interest tell the more intelligent in this group that it’s time rein it in instead of whipping it into further frenzy?

  38. Anthony K says

    Renee of “The government gave me a job toting cables around” fame?

    Your taxes paid her salary, folks. Hope you got good value for the money.

  39. edithkeeler says

    Yes, no hidden meanings or hidden agenda — all the disingenuous bullshit is up front for all to see.

  40. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    I wish they’d make their minds up.

    Half the time, despite (presumably) being atheists, they subscribe to the biblical ‘an eye for an eye’ form of revenge because a few years back it was common for Pharyngula regulars to suggest people perform painful acts of masturbation as means of conveying distaste; the other half they try to pretend that what they’re doing isn’t nasty at all.

    It’s hasty equivocation worthy of a theologian.

  41. tonyinbatavia says

    Aratina Cage @44, that’s pure awesome sauce. They aren’t even shooting blanks; there are simply no bullets in that gun.

  42. fastlane says

    Does anyone buy the BS of that apology along with the ” I hope you are able to get over it.” line? Apologies, you’re doing them wrong. No need to scrutinize every little line, cupcake, it’s pretty blatantly out there for everyone to see.

  43. Anthony K says

    No need to scrutinize every little line, cupcake, it’s pretty blatantly out there for everyone to see.

    For the record, my partner once referred to me as ‘cupcake’ THEREFORE EVERYONE SHOULD BE FLATTERED TO BE CALLED IT NO MATTER THE CONTEXT OMG GET OVER YOUR BITTERNESS!

  44. Aratina Cage says

    For the record, my partner once referred to me as ‘cupcake’ THEREFORE EVERYONE SHOULD BE FLATTERED TO BE CALLED IT NO MATTER THE CONTEXT OMG GET OVER YOUR BITTERNESS!

    Preach it, cupcake!

  45. says

    It’s funny that at least a couple of ya think Porter apologized. Read her comment again. There is no apology. There is no admission of having done anything even a little nasty. There is a boast about having done something to humor me because I was “upset” and then a patronizing lecture.

  46. doubtthat says

    That’s true. I assumed that by changing it, she was acknowledging some fault. I initially read the sanctimony as a face-saving effort, but it does read more like a, “Fine, if you’re going to whine about I’ll change it, but why are you getting upset…hope we can be besties, I mean it.”

  47. Brian E says

    Having lived in Spain way back, I would never have used tu or diminutives with some with whom I wasn’t on tu or friendly terms. It was just being rude.
    It’s like the use of mate here in Oz, use mate with a mate, and it’s friendly, use it with a stranger, or in a passive agressive way, and it’s looking for a blue.

  48. karmacat says

    I guess these people don’t have anything better to do with their lives. They are obsessed with criticizing different blogs and people. If I don’t like someone’s ideas, I just stop reading their blogs. I’m guessing Vacula and Porter need to feel special but are unable to do so without pulling other people down.

  49. Nadai says

    Maybe it’s just my age showing here, but I remember the days when three of the worst things you could say about people were (1) they could dish it out but couldn’t take it, (2) they were two-faced lying weasels who’d say one thing to your face and another behind your back, and (3) they were mealy-mouthed cowards who didn’t have the guts to stand behind their convictions – all of which apply to the ‘pitters et al. in fucking spades. I’d have to practice for a solid year to have more contempt for them.

  50. Hamilton Jacobi says

    How does Vacula fail to recognize that his definition of the word “bully” is the same as that of a fundamentalist preacher in full apoplectic breakdown after someone criticized him for harassing gays?

  51. yazikus says

    I for one am very particular about names. When you introduce yourself to someone, you are giving them permission to use the name you give. I intensely dislike people using my name if I have not introduced myself, and they are not making some kind of introduction (if you have ever worn a name tag, you have probably experienced this). I feel the same way about diminutives. Totally inappropriate unless you’ve been given permission. I’ve noticed that my employer (who is a woman) deals with this regularly. Certain clients will make a point of using a diminutive of her name, as a way (I think) to make them feel less like she is in a position of superiority.

  52. says

    For the record, I do NOT like being called Jaffa Cake. Mainly because, living in the US, I have no idea what they are or what they taste like.

    If someone is willing to mail me a box (factory sealed for my protection) I’ll reconsider after trying one.

  53. Eristae says

    Rule #1: Never alter the name of a person if you are currently experiencing some kind of negative interaction with that person. They’re sad? You’re mad? You two are having a fight? Not the time to start calling people by something other than the name they’ve given you. Breaking this rule makes you either a passive aggressive twit or it makes you profoundly ignorant. If it is the second, you lose the ability to have that serve as an excuse the moment you are told not to do it.

    Rule #2: In the event that you do alter someone’s name and it displeases them, the appropriate response is, “Oh, I’m sorry.” This is the appropriate response whether or not one has broken Rule #1.

  54. Claire Ramsey says

    Generalizations about “Latin America” and diminutives as affection are superficial.

    Diminutives have two functions, and as Ophelia suggests, uses of tu/Ud. and tu/vous operate the same way. They can suggest intimacy and affection. Or they can establish and maintain social distance. Even in Latin America. Even in France.

    Calling one’s adult male chauffeur “Juanito” is absolutely not an expression of affection. It is the higher status person establishing her status by using the child/animal form of address to an adult. The lower status person, for example Juanito, may not adopt any but the most formal structure of address when addressing his employer.

  55. bad Jim says

    This is entirely beside the point, but the sheer number of variations on some common names, especially Elizabeth and Margaret, was probably the result of their universality. When every third woman was named Margaret, it was actually useful to call one Mag, another Peg, and so forth, and similarly with Betsy and Liza.

    This is to the point: if someone goes by Beth it’s not acceptable, and at least to an adult not amusing, to call her Betty. Diminutives are only acceptable as endearments among intimates. A false presumption of intimacy isn’t necessarily fraud or insult, but it’s pretty obviously not benign.

  56. says

    I’ve recently had friends call me by my old nickname “Dot” lately with more frequency. The problem is that it has been during arguments or debates, and used to dismiss or belittle me. One notable example just the other day, a man I’ve known IRL for a long time, after calling one of my female friends a bitch then responded to me with this:
    “Oh little girl, you are a child in a womans body if thats the way you think.”

    Dot, when I have more time to talk I will get back to you on that!”

    I have since blocked another couple of people who literally gave me a long lecture several times over a period of months when discussing issues we disagree on like gun control and vaccination, only calling me “Dot” during those lectures.

    Funny how they aren’t using this when we are talking about other things, it’s only when there’s some political disagreement and they want to get me to shut up.

  57. Stacy says

    I hope you are able to get over it. I’m serious, not joking. I suppose this comment will bring on an onslaught of microscopic examinations from you and your readers of each word and its hidden meaning or agenda. There is none.

    Oh, you’re not joking. You’re just dishonest and cowardly.

    Hey, Karly? I think you’re an ass. And I’m not too passive-aggressive to admit it.

    If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize. Sincerely. Because though unlikely, it’s remotely possible that you’re new to this conflict, and you really don’t know about the disparaging use of–oh, hell. I can’t do it. It isn’t believable.

    But if I were wrong, I would apologize. Apologize, not priss “Well, if you’re going to be that sensitive about it, I’ll humor you and stop calling you that.” I wouldn’t deny what I’d done. I’d own my previous hostility. I wouldn’t try to bullshit myself and others into thinking I’m better than I am by denying the contempt I feel for you; the contempt I put into calling you “Karly.”

    Or as Anthony K. said:

    These two shitbags are straight up fucking lying, because they’re too fucking cowardly to own up to their shittiness.

    So much for #braveheroes

  58. Brian E says

    This is to the point: if someone goes by Beth it’s not acceptable, and at least to an adult not amusing, to call her Betty. Diminutives are only acceptable as endearments among intimates. A false presumption of intimacy isn’t necessarily fraud or insult, but it’s pretty obviously not benign.

    Oh bugger! I sometimes call Her Majesty, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor II, Queen of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, …, head of the Church of England, et al. the very rude and uber Australian Betty Windsor.
    Apologies Maam!

  59. Brian E says

    Having never been within cooee of her highness, obviously. And we travel in different social media circles I believe. :D

  60. 'dirigible says

    “It’s funny that at least a couple of ya think Porter apologized.”

    I wonder if she thinks she did?

  61. carlie says

    I am finding it difficult to not be ageist and say that they just aren’t grown-up enough yet to know better…

    But I won’t, mainly because I think that when they’re 50 they will still be just as juvenile.

  62. says

    In my opinion you should never use diminutives unless you are sure the person you are addressing isn’t happier being addressed by their full name and you have their permission to do so. It’s not enough that they will silently “go along” with it. I have some old friends who call me “Bernie”, but outside that context, I don’t much like that mode of address.

    Yup same idea goes for japanese honorifics.

    And the same is true in Chinese. However it’s often difficult to figure out exactly what the norms are in other societies. My wife’s younger sister would always refer to her in writing using the polite form, nin (您), of “you”, this being the traditional form of address for an older sibling, but in speech she would always use the informal form, ni (你). In China I was sometimes told I needn’t to be so formal, but I don’t think it offended anyone. On the other hand I once mistook a diminutive form for someone’s real name and was quickly told what his real name was. But the thing to do is just to apologise and not repeat the mistake.

    Had Mr Vacula made an honest mistake, one would expect an apology at the very least, and for him not to repeat it. The facts that an apology was not forthcoming, that he invents pathetic excuses for his behaviour, that he thinks it’s somehow Ophelia’s fault that she’s offended by his offensiveness, and that he shows no sign of giving up calling Ophelia “Ophie” merely confirms that there was malicious intent all along.

    In the end it is not for others to tell anyone how they should be addressed; indeed Fritz Perls once remarked that one of the signs of sanity was being able to insist on what others call you.

  63. says

    Deanna – wow, that’s a really clear example. Extra points for a man doing it to a woman, eh?

    Now let’s have a 50 million word wrangle about the extra points for a man doing it to a woman because “sexism” is totes subjective which is the same thing as random and arbitrary so let’s have that 100 million word discussion, like the one at Eric’s and the three at Mick’s. That will be FABULOUS!

  64. says

    Betty Windsor, aka Brenda – see, the queen and the pope are exceptions. So is Priss Choz. So are people like Mugabe. Diminutives for icons is genuine iconoclasm.

  65. Ulysses says

    I knew Brenda was occasionally called Liz (although I’ve never understood why, since Liz isn’t a diminutive of Brenda) but someone is suggesting her real name might be Elizabeth. Is Brenda her middle name which she prefers to use? I know a man named Rupert James Surname who prefers to be called James (or Jim by his close friends).

    I’m so confused.

  66. jenBPhillips says

    excellent blog post, Deanna. Thanks for the link. The first comment there also has quite a familiar theme:

    I am a former university debater myself, who saw misogyny as the non-negotiable price of admission to an activity I enjoyed, and who – to my everlasting shame – sometimes saw it as a badge of honour to be “unshockable”, “one of the guys”, “not like those other hysterical oversensitive girly girls”. Thank you for doing better than that.

  67. jenniferphillips says

    whoops, thought I was logged in, and now I’m in moderation. As Google Me, I repeat:

    Great blog post, Deanna! Thank you for the link. The first comment there also strikes a rather familiar chord:

    I am a former university debater myself, who saw misogyny as the non-negotiable price of admission to an activity I enjoyed, and who – to my everlasting shame – sometimes saw it as a badge of honour to be “unshockable”, “one of the guys”, “not like those other hysterical oversensitive girly girls”. Thank you for doing better than that.

  68. stewart says

    Carlie (#70), pointing out that people are not acting like the adults they are in actual years is not ageist. If you were slagging them off because of their chronological ages instead because of the way they behave – as they tend to do – then you might be ageist.

  69. Brian E says

    A reverse of this is possible too, one of my neighbours, who’s Russian Australian, is called Olga, and so I called her Olga, but she didn’t like it and wants to be called Olya, which is the diminutive in Russian. :)

  70. Dave Ricks says

    Well, yes, I insist on “Dave” instead of “David” on my business card, to be informal at the PhD level in engineering, which is an option in that social system, but that’s not to undermine this thread about crossing two lines:

    1) Anyone using a diminutive uninvited, and

    2) Karla Porter doubling down with cultural bullshit, as Claire Ramsey and others pointed out, linguistic status told.

  71. sawells says

    @81: I think it’s because they have trouble grasping that other people, and hence other countries, are actually real. Egotism verging on solipsism. Ergo, those people and places only existed when The Special Snowflake At The Centre Of The Universe was there.

    With a side order of “I, the well-travelled intellectual, am informing you unwashed proles”. Just for elitism garnish.

  72. says

    “Diminutives for icons is genuine iconoclasm.” It’s still disrespectful. It’s intentional disrespect.

    If someone invites you to use a diminutive or their first name, or to say “tu,” that’s their choice and much better than being told, “I prefer to be called David / Ms. Cheung / “vous.”

    Not correcting their behavior after they are told is a sure sign that they’re doing it to belittle and annoy.

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