I'm from Colorado, now living in Oregon. Ma'am and Sir weren't something we grew up with, though I'm sure my dad would have liked it if we called him sir. I don't hear kids here using either term. Do kids where you live say ma'am and sir? How do they address adults? Do you think that ma'am/sir is polite? Or is it outdated?
Saying "Yes, Ma'am/ Yes, Sir"? Regional? Polite? Outdated?
I, for one, would be taken aback if a kid called me "ma'am"! It's bad enough enough when a store clerk does it, it makes me feel old!
It isn't that common here in the Midwest either, really. We don't really use titles like that at all, just speak directly with please/thank you/excuse me as necessary.
I am originally from WA state, so the whole thing seems ridiculous and antiquated to me. Also, I HATE being called ma'am. HATE IT.
I think it's outdated and/or regional. People just don't talk that way around here, and it would sound excessively formal. DH used to say "ma'am" to servers in restaurants and such (he's from TN), and it actually made me feel vaguely uncomfortable. Some of the servers - mostly in the hotel based restaurants - took it without a second thought, but I did see the occasional one give him an odd look.
I'm not really a big fan of the "children as inferiors" school of manners, so I wouldn't even think of teaching kids to use "sir" and "ma'am". Around here, most people give kids their first names. My kids, for instance, use first names for the parents of all their friends. DD1 has one neighbourhood friend whom she's known since they were about three and four. I didn't even know her dad's last name until about a year and a half ago. Things are just very loose around here.
When I lived in the South it was pretty traditional...My L was taught in daycare and school to address adults with Ma'm,Sir and Miss or Mr....I was okay with it..Just a form or respect...Now that we are living back in the North I don't hear it from anybody else..lol But my L still says it...My relatives love to hear her talk..she has been here a year so she has lost her southern twang but not her manners...lol And I also say Yes Ma'm to her....
We live in the South, so, as others have said, ma'am and sir are commonly heard. It's respectful. My son has fallen out of the habit, but my daughter still uses ma'am and sir with everyone except her close friends, regardless of their age. I think it's a martial arts thing. They are all about respect.
It doesn't have to be about children being inferior. My daughter was taught to use ma'am and sir with everyone to show respect (not by me, but by her taekwondo instructors). She even says ma'am or sir to little kids, which seems a bit weird, but she is so used to it.
Fair enough. I've never seen it used that way - only used to reinforce the adult's superior social position. I've always found the "sir" and "ma'am" stuff a bit bizarre, but I was also raised in an area where one just doesn't hear it very much.
It's along the lines of saying please and thank you here. Just something you say because it's polite.
I live in the Northeast and ma'am and sir is no typically heard across the board. It isn't unusual for a store clerk (or anyone unfamiliar) to say "ma'am" or sir to someone to get their attention but I would find it very strange to hear a young child use either term.
The "Miss" thing really rubs me the wrong way. There is a group of moms in town that started the Miss business. As far as I know, none of them are from the South.
I alienated myself when I told one mother that if she wanted her child to not call me by my first name, that was fine but please call me Mrs. (last name) not Miss Caneel. To me, Miss is a label for an unmarried woman or a 20 yo babysitter or preschool teacher, not a mid-40s married woman. I continued to correct the mother and child to the point of many eye rolls, I just could not stand the sound of it.
I live in the Northwest. Here in the white community, it is rarely or never heard. But in the African-American community, it is fairly common - a sign of respect, politeness, of being "raised right". Perhaps from families with Southern roots. I find it cute here, but it made me uncomfortable when I lived in rural Georgia. There, racism was overt, and it felt like another little way of maintaining distance between races, ages, whatever.
When I lived in France, I learned that it was considered rude to to answer a question or greet a person, without their name or the equivalent of sir or ma'am. They never taught that in high school French! But that was 40 years ago, and could have changed since then for all I know.
The children in my daughter's public school are encouraged to call the teachers and school staff by their first name. My daughter really seemed to want a bit more formality and would address them as Teacher Annnie, Teacher Rich, etc. now that she is getting older and no one else is doing it she's switched to the simple first name.
Most of our adult friends would be hideously uncomfortable if she addressed them with a formal total, so we are on first name basis with almost everyone.
bow to no one! I realize I am going overboard but I just want them to know they are equal with every single person.
When I was a social worker I was addressed as "Miss" dalia. Totally fine with that. We call our doctors by their first name, like "Dr. Jack" and "Dr. Jill".