etiquette (was RE: Proposal for a new variant subtag of the french language (fr)

Mark Crispin mrc at CAC.Washington.EDU
Sat Dec 8 18:46:11 CET 2007

On Sat, 8 Dec 2007, Peter Constable wrote:
> Can we agree that there are people from different cultures on this list 
> and that, in different English-speaking cultures, it is not uncommon 
> practice to *refer* to a person by their surname, and that that is not 
> considered offensive? Can we also agree that, when people from different 
> cultures on this list employ different conventions in referring to 
> people, it is acceptable so long as it is not *culturally* offensive?

While I agree with the basic sentiments of the above, I wish to point out 
that we are often compelled to bend over backwards for alleged "cultural 
sensitivities."  I have also noticed a strong correlation between those 
who claim to have such sensitivities and utter insensitivity to those of 
others.  [I'm not claiming that Harald is such a person; but there is a 
now non-participant we all know...........]

I don't wish to belabor the point, and personally I see little wrong with 
using +1 to indicate "I agree but have nothing to add."  I hope that at 
some point we can persuade Michael that +1 is acceptable for this purpose 
and is not intended to be a vote to be tallied.

Nonetheless, I share Michael's offense at being called by surname.  I 
hated that practice as a child, especially when used to address me; and 
hate it today, four+ decades later.

I consider surname-only acceptable only in the driest text, where the 
surname-only form is an honorific and the use of titles and/or full names 
indicates lower status; e.g., "Jones" means "the one and only world-famous 
Nobel-prize winning Prof. Robert T. Jones, PhD and I dare not refer to him 
by anything more than Jones since that would imply that I know this great 
man."  This is similar to the Japanese usage of surname-only (actually, 
both the famous and the infamous are referenced this way; it's a strongly 
distal form).

This mailing list is not such a dry text, and presumably we do not need to 
be so distal.

-- Mark --
Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to eat for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed sheep contesting the vote.

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