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Old September 26 2012, 11:16 AM   #31
Gov Kodos
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

There's also usage to consider. Mr and Mrs generally use the family name with the title. Used alone they sound oddly abrupt. Sir and Ma'am don't need a name with them when addressing someone.
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Old September 26 2012, 01:55 PM   #32
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

I think some people are confusing the uses of "sir"; I don't claim to know how its used in other nations but in the US, "sir" or "ma'am" is simply a way to address an unfamiliar person, commonly used by service workers when addressing customers, in addition to its military use as a form of respect for commanding officers.

It has nothing to do with elitism, as ANYONE can be addressed as "sir" or "ma'am"; it is never expressed as part of a persons name/title/whatever, that's what would smack of elitism; Bruce Springsteen is not Sir Bruce Springsteen. He probably doesn't even ride horses.
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Old September 26 2012, 09:32 PM   #33
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

horatio83 wrote: View Post
T'Girl wrote: View Post
horatio83 wrote: View Post
it is a stupid word from aristocratic times and deserves to die out.
It is even more widely used in Latin America countries, not referring to someone (especially if they are older) as Señor or Señora is very disrespectful.
I don't speak Spanish but as far as I know these terms mean mister and lady. Nothing wrong with that but sir has more to do with knights and a medieval worldview than with an egalitarian democratic worldview in which equal citizens meet each other eye to eye.

Like it or not, Starfleet is the armed forces of the Federation, they possess a military hierarchy, and military customs and courtesies.
I referred to the first post, Star Trek is inspired by yet not subject to stupid real-word military customs.
This is not a trivial matter because the beauty of Starfleet is that it is neither a club of scientists with flat hierarchies nor a contemporary military with all its obscene rituals and relations to violence. Something like Abu Ghraib is not the exception but the truth of the military. Back to Trek if we include Section 31 we have to claim of course that the obscene dark side hasn't vanished but merely been externalized.
Starfleet sans Section 31 is an organization with steep hierarchies that values discipline yet not brainless obedience and above all it takes its own rules seriously.
Actually, it is quite frequent, when you are shopping, and a store worker addresses you to call you sir or ma'am because they have no way of knowing your name.

To call someone merely "Mister", without a Sir Name to go along with it (IE: Mr. Smith) is actually generally used as an admonishment (IE: Look here Mister") unless it's a child (IE: Excuse me Mister)
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Old September 26 2012, 10:55 PM   #34
MacLeod
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

When writting letters if you don't know who will read it, many will start it :-

Dear Sir or Madam

If the use of Sir is not followed by a name, it is simply a courteous way to address someone.
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Old September 26 2012, 11:07 PM   #35
scotpens
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

Sindatur wrote: View Post
Actually, it is quite frequent, when you are shopping, and a store worker addresses you to call you sir or ma'am because they have no way of knowing your name.

To call someone merely "Mister", without a Sir Name to go along with it (IE: Mr. Smith) . . .
I assume you mean "surname," sir! (Or Ma'am, as the case may be.)
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Old September 26 2012, 11:48 PM   #36
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

grabthars hammer wrote: View Post
I think some people are confusing the uses of "sir"; I don't claim to know how its used in other nations but in the US, "sir" or "ma'am" is simply a way to address an unfamiliar person, commonly used by service workers when addressing customers, in addition to its military use as a form of respect for commanding officers.
I, on the other hand, would say that some English speakers, through familiarity and usage, lost the perspective on the meaning of the words. Why do junior officers address senior officers as "Sir"? Because, until quite recently, only members of the aristocracy could become officers. They were literally "Sirs". This is also the reason why it was used to addressed unfamiliar people: it was better to address a commoner with "Sir" than the opposite. This doubles for service workers, where making customers feel good about themselves is half of the work.

Now, I have no issue with using "Sir" to address people, just putting it into historical perspective. Sure, it is nice to do so: but it doesn't hurt to know why is considered courteous to do it (and while we are at it, "courteous": another word related to good manners which ultimately derives from actual nobility).

Ok, this was more pedantic that I thought it would be.
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Old September 27 2012, 12:34 AM   #37
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

Sindatur wrote: View Post
Actually, it is quite frequent, when you are shopping, and a store worker addresses you to call you sir or ma'am because they have no way of knowing your name.
Exactly, that's what we do every day.

But like I said, it makes no logical sense (even in Starfleet) to call female superior officers "sir", because that word is inherently male. You wouldn't call male superiors "ma'am", so why call females "sir"?

Same goes for "Mister." That's also a male term. Why not just use the rank, if you're talking to a junior officer?
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Old September 27 2012, 12:35 AM   #38
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

I think one of the major reasons for this lengthy discussion is that people outside the United States have a very different way of dealing with their fellow man than us here.
The wonderful common courtesy that we enjoy in this country is simply non existent in Europe for instance. I know - I am from there and on my very first trip to America I was amazed how civilized Americans are to one another.
So where are you from Horatio?
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Old September 27 2012, 01:58 AM   #39
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

I am Surak wrote: View Post
on my very first trip to America I was amazed how civilized Americans are to one another.
You've obviously never been to Philadelphia.
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Old September 27 2012, 02:01 AM   #40
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

Or outside his own head.
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Old September 27 2012, 03:02 AM   #41
I am Surak
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
Or outside his own head.
See - you yourself are the best example for my argument.
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Old September 27 2012, 03:07 AM   #42
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

Meh. In Baltimore we get around this by calling everyone "Hon".
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Old September 27 2012, 01:02 PM   #43
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

I am Surak wrote: View Post
iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
Or outside his own head.
See - you yourself are the best example for my argument.
Please forgive my filthy foreigner's mouth, o paragon of courtesy. I am sure in the wonderfully civilized America they thank you when you insult them without provocation.
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Old September 27 2012, 01:28 PM   #44
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
I am Surak wrote: View Post
on my very first trip to America I was amazed how civilized Americans are to one another.
You've obviously never been to Philadelphia.
They even booed Santa Claus in Philly!
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?...nfl&id=1980880

PS I spent formative years in King of Prussia and am now in Bahstin, where when we cut you off, we do so without Rs, unless the word ends with a vowel. Plus we also tend to vowel shift for no apparent reason.

Hence, carnage becomes cahnadge and the name Donna becomes Dawnner.

PPS Thank you for reading my thoroughly unnecessary linguistics aside.
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Old September 27 2012, 01:51 PM   #45
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Re: officers are called 'sir'

I am Surak wrote: View Post
I think one of the major reasons for this lengthy discussion is that people outside the United States have a very different way of dealing with their fellow man than us here.
The wonderful common courtesy that we enjoy in this country is simply non existent in Europe for instance. I know - I am from there and on my very first trip to America I was amazed how civilized Americans are to one another.
So where are you from Horatio?
I am a barbaric German but at least I am not a jingoist.

By the way, I did not argue against politeness, I argued against the expression of politeness via an aristocratic term which seems mildly ironic from a historical perspective as the US wanted to get rid of British monarchy.
I have an egalitarian worldview so I will never ever use or like a term like "Sir" which implies that somebody else is above or beneath me.
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