Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Terms of Endearment

I have always enjoyed analyzing speech patterns, as I enjoy analyzing most things.  One thing that I've been noticing recently is what I call "terms of endearment".  They're not exactly pet names, because they are kind of generic and, at least in the South, used for a wide range friends, acquaintances and near strangers. You know them- the "honeys", "dears" and "darlin's".  I couldn't say I have the same feelings toward all these little colloquial endearments.  Honey and Sweetie don't really phase me, although I do find Sweetie bothersome unless the person is a little older than me or is, well, my Sweetie.  Dear, on the other hand, is a term I have strong disdain for.  It's basically Southernspeak for dumbass, in most cases. There is the rare instance where I feel it's a comfortable acknowledgment- usually among my mom's bridge club friends who really have a totally different vernacular than anything resembles modern American English.  Their expressions and vocabulary often seem reminiscent of Gone With the Wind, or at the very least, The Help.

Which brings me to Darlin and two separate instances involving the word.  First, the one y'all have already heard about.  Oh, I didn't like that woman darlin-ing me one bit.  It was basically a really mean spirited, rural sounding Dear.

The second was more positive and perhaps more interesting.  I recently bumped into a boy I went to high school with, who is several years my junior, at church. He's a bit of a ladies' man inasmuch as a good Christian boy with stellar upbringing can be.  I guess he's what you'd call a flirt, if that's an appropriate way to describe a nearly college graduated boy man who is in a serious relationship. [And I don't mean that in a negative way all; he has a precious personality and is just uncharacteristically friendly to both guys and girls.  I think he was his fraternity's rush chairman or something.] So I wasn't surprised AT ALL by his big, sweet embrace.  What I was surprised about were his words- "Well, HEY, Darlin'!".  He's about to be a senior in college and from our interaction, it was obvious he's starting to identify himself not only as my peer, but also as a full grown man. [High school boys, and most college guys, don't use the term darlin', especially in reference to a mom of two.]  I really wasn't a big deal at all, but I've always thought of him as SO young, in part, I suppose because in recent years his mother has become a very dear friend.

I have to say, I honestly love it when men use Darlin' in a friendly way.  It's just a warm greeting that feels like the beginning of a charming screened porch conversation.  It's a verbal hug and it just makes me grin.  I'm BIG on affection, sometimes to the point of it being inappropriate (in an awkward sense, not in a sexual sense-obs) and I love terms of affection.  Darlin' is a favorite because it conjures images of yesteryear and for some reason, when said by a (non sleazy) man,  it makes me feel so feminine...so perfectly different from the opposite gender.  That's a feeling I love- like wearing dresses and aprons and using hot rollers in my hair. 

Which brings me to an even more uniquely feminine term (as clearly, I have been known to call Peyton darlin' on more than one occasion)-- Mama

Have y'all noticed this trend??? Now, I am not talking about when your husband calls you Mama (which, by the way, I typically insist on spelling the way I was taught- Momma).  That is a whole discussion for another time, but I will say, per my discussion with some friends, I think most women are in agreement that spouses calling each other their parental titles is awkward at best, a mood killer at worst.  Of course, situations allow for goofiness and I don't mind Peyton using it as long as he's basically playing ventriloquist and pretending to talk through one of our children.

What I'm talking about, though, is the emergence of a new (I think) tendency for women to call each other Mama as a term of affection.  I see it most often within the attachment parenting/super natural/crunchy community (I don't know why that is and maybe I'm over generalizing?) and it's usually used when offering consolidation.  On any day, my Tweetstream will often have one or more "I'm sorry, Mama", "Don't worry, Mama", "Praying now, Mama", or "Get some rest, Mama" in response to all sorts of issues from sore boobs to insomniac kids to cryptic references to marital problems (seen it).  I actually think this one's sweet, too, and would probably jump on the bandwagon were it not for the fact that, as I mentioned, sometimes I'm already awkwardly affectionate and some people probably only like being called Mama by their kids.

Well, this was a really fun indulgence into the way my mind works and the often absurd things I put way to much thought into, no?  Anyone want to share any more loved/hated "terms of endearment"??


Ashley said...

1. I am going to be the obnoxious person who states that I hate terms of endearment from strangers. I find it so condescending. Which kind of surprises me. I think I wouldn't mind it from an elderly person in a nursing home, perhaps? Because everything they say is perfect and adorable to me. I have just never had a good experience with people calling me dear, honey, or sweetie. Kurt calls me honey, and of course that's fine. If you'll recall, the last time I blogged about this, I was given proverbial slaps on the wrist (face?) from Southerners who think I'm being a wainch. I'm not. I just think it's annoying as crap. :)

2. You are SPOT ON about the crunchy granola "Mama" phenomenon! I've thought that SO many times!!! Given your lifestyle choices recently, you should probably go ahead and start calling me Mama. Hee hee.

I love you and get to see you SOON!

The Taffs said...

Great post. My husband and I do not call each other by our parental titles. Very weird. But I have noticed "mama" as a trendy term of endearment. I get "little mama" a lot. I don't particularly mind it, but don't think I could ever use it on anyone else.

Meghan said...

Ok this is random but I noticed that a while ago you mentioned that ya'll were going to get a Nikon camera but didn't end up getting one because they were sold out. It seems like you would be the type of person to research up and down to try to find the best one. I have been looking at Canons but I wanted to ask you if there was any reason you had Nikon in mind first.

Carrie said...

This is so funny because I've been wondering the SAME THING about the whole "Mama" thing. Also, I totally agree about "Dear".... David knows never to call me Dear unless we're fighting. Haha! But I don't think you've ever called me a term of endearment... I'm not sure what to make of this now. Are we really friends? ;)

Sarah Denley said...

Meghan, we were originally planning on going with the Nikon simply because from most everything I read, they were, for our purposes, equal and the Nikon was a hundred or so dollars less. Not a huge deal overall, but we wanted to save if we could. I ended up loving the Cannon and am SO glad we got it, although I'm sure the Nikon would have been great, too. Thanks commenting that I would be the type to research thoroughly; what a nice compliment!

Carrie, I haven't used THESE terms of affection, but I've definitely used "Friend", "Girl", and probably some others. I can totally start calling you Dear, though ;) Maybe we can teach Aubrey to call AP Dear when she steals her Elmo. That would be hilarious.