Posted by Ken on November 21, 1997 at 15:22:28:
In response to Ma'am, written by Stolzi on November 21, 1997 at 12:18:19
] Good heavens, it's not that ancient, or that Regency. 50 years ago in the South, I was brought up to say "ma'am" and "sir" to my parents, and indeed to any adults.
] 20 years ago, Marine Guards at embassies addressed all of us embassy employees and spouses, also, as "ma'am" and "sir."
Indeed, and often contracted to a "um" at the end of a "yes"--that was only 35 years ago. In fact, I got into serious trouble in 4th grade because a teacher thought I was offering her sass, ordered me sternly not to say "ma'am" to her. Of course, I parrotted back, "Yes ma'am." (-: The situation degenerated sufficiently to require a mother's intervention the next day (-:
Active duty military, especially if junior, still tend to "ma'am" and "sir" civilians. While never military, I still employ this usage when feeling formal, or when addressing those older than myself, especially other southerners.
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