LINGUIST List 2.696

Tue 22 Oct 1991

Disc: Using Names

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  1. Michael Newman, Re: 2.677 Anymore, Last Names, ASL
  2. , Re 2.655 Polite Pronouns
  3. "Larry G. Hutchinson", Re: 2.677 Anymore, Last Names, ASL

Message 1: Re: 2.677 Anymore, Last Names, ASL

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 91 09:36:43 EDT
From: Michael Newman <MNEHCCUNYVM.CUNY.EDU>
Subject: Re: 2.677 Anymore, Last Names, ASL
In response to Paul Saka's comments about how academic teachers in his high
school used first names and gym teachers last names, and about how he
associated last-naming with budding militarism. My feelings exactly, although
I would go as far back as Junior High. I went to school in public schools in
New York, and my impression is much the same about teachers' usages. I remember
a stage when some students--mostly boys--last named too, but these were
usually jocks or at least jock wannabes. Last-naming still leaves a bad taste
in my mouth, and even when my ESL students do it to me--for completely dif-
ferent reasons--I still cringe. That, of course, brings up another interesting
question-- what are professors called?
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Message 2: Re 2.655 Polite Pronouns

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 91 13:53:06 CDT
Subject: Re 2.655 Polite Pronouns
I'd like to echo Ellen Prince's puzzlement about the discomfort
students express if addressed by their last names. About twenty
years ago when I was a Teaching fellow at Penn, I was approached
by a group of my first-year French students who asked me to
call them by first name; anything else didn't seem right to them.
Like Ellen, I too was pleased to be called by last name when I
reached 7th grade (also large Brooklyn public school); it was a
sign of not being a little kid any more. Let me add another nuance
(this one definitely a function, at least for me, of pre-feminist
times): I remember being thrilled when one of my teachers dropped
the 'Miss' and used just my last name - it was a sign of special
status for a girl, at least in my school at that time, to be
addressed like a boy!
 Margaret Winters
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Message 3: Re: 2.677 Anymore, Last Names, ASL

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 91 12:18:53 -0500
From: "Larry G. Hutchinson" <>
Subject: Re: 2.677 Anymore, Last Names, ASL
The issue of a bare last name as a form af address is a very interesting and
very subtle one.
1) I feel it is, with recent generations at least, originally a MALE usage, not
just military, gym teachers, etc. Of course, as women have moved into the
military they have adopted this usage as well. An instructive example is my own
linguistics department. A few years ago a female member of the faculty voiced a
mild objection to the way members of the dept. addressed each other, claiming
the males used last names to each other but not to the females. We discussed,
without rancor I hasten to add, whether this was really true, whether it was
undesirable, what it all really meant, etc. As an experiment (of sorts) I
promised to try to use her last name in as natural a way as possible for the
 next week, and
she would try to use last names herself for the week. Here are the facts: she
couldn't do it quite right (which relates to the sex-linked usage I think, and
 also to point 2 below), and she insisted I stop forever at the end of the week.
She definitely found it offensive.
A related matter: the use of bare last name to REFER may well also be sex-linked
and related to its use in ADDRESS. I tried looking through minutes of depart-
mental meetings to see if a pattern existed, but this was inconclusive.
2) Among males themselves, the usage is subtle and I don't understand it
myself, analytically. But this much seems clear: bare last names are used to
address strangers in some highly constrained environments such as the military
and sports, but sometimes with demeaning intent and sometimes with inclusion-
in-the-group intent, and they used with intimate friends, but not with less
intimate friends.
Two, perhaps interesting examples:
	a) in male groups such as camping trips I have seen men ostracized by
	first name use, the "ins" using only last names withj each other.
	b) I personally have many male friends, real friends of many years
	standing, whom I would never address by last name. The friendship is
	just not intimate enough. I have tried a couple of times, in the
	experiment mode, to the chagrin and discomfort of both addresser and
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