hun (hon, honey)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by vost, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. vost Senior Member

    France
    France, Français
    May this word be used between close friend of opposite sex without ambiguity, I mean, without making the friend thinking you may have more than friendship in mind?
     
  2. lablady

    lablady Senior Member

    Central California
    English - USA
    I have a female coworker who calls everyone "hon" (note that I spell it with an "o"), and no one thinks anything more of it. So yes, I think it can be used between friends. I usually hear it used by older ladies (I won't divulge how old this coworker is). :)
     
  3. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
  4. prankstare Senior Member

    São Paulo
    Portuguese - Brazil
    I don't know, but a native American friend of mine does call me "hun" everytime on MSN -- and we have nothing further than a plain friendly relationship, even. :)
     
  5. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    Some people (perhaps he's from Texas or a similar area?) use the words in an entirely different manner.

    Certainly, older women can say "honey" or "sweetie" to just about everyone and no special meaning is inferred at all.
     
  6. Nymeria Senior Member

    Barbados
    English - Barbadian/British/educated in US universities blend
    I am fond of terms of endearment and use them cheerfully. :) I call most of my friends hon, honey, sweetie, dear, anything like that and nothing more that friendship is implied or inferred. Oh, and I'm definitely not an "older woman" :)
     
  7. frankieloveseddie

    frankieloveseddie Senior Member

    Liverpool, England
    English - UK

    This phrase is used a lot in the UK but only usually between female friends, or maybe female to male but never male to male or male to female. My friend and I always refer to each other as hon (note we also spell it with an 'o' not a 'u') :)
     
  8. prankstare Senior Member

    São Paulo
    Portuguese - Brazil

    Hum, I can't remember where she writes from right now. Although what I do know is that she's not any youngster anymore -- more likely to be kind of an older woman, as you put it. :D

    I'll get that question answered the next time she comes on.
     
  9. Nymeria Senior Member

    Barbados
    English - Barbadian/British/educated in US universities blend
    Really? Other UK residents have had similar experiences?
     
  10. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español

    "Hun" is closer to the way that many pronounce it in AE.
     
  11. frankieloveseddie

    frankieloveseddie Senior Member

    Liverpool, England
    English - UK
    Of course this may well be a regional thing. Certainly where I'm from (Liverpool) the only time you would possibly hear this said male to male or male to female would be within the gay community, and even then it would be a rare occurrence. It would be much more common for a man to say luv or babe (in an affectionate way) than hon. My uncle often calls me babe but he'd never call me hon.
     
  12. MikeLynn

    MikeLynn Senior Member

    My brother-in-law calls my sister hun and he is 43, Californian, and she's 38, so they're not all that old.
     
  13. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Vost, if this is the same friend-who-is-a-girl to whom you happily say "I love you", I see no difficulty with "hon/hun".
     
  14. vost Senior Member

    France
    France, Français
    I have no problem to use many terms of endearment with the girl you're talking about Loob :)
    This is for a long-lost single friend.
     
  15. HighlyAcidic Senior Member

    Washington DC
    English - USA
    I speak AE and as a male, I would never use this word, unless I was being extremely sarcastic.
     
  16. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    In that case I think you need to listen to the male respondents to this thread...

    Personally, I've only ever heard "hon" used by females to females.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  17. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    The only times I've ever heard anyone [in the UK] addressing another person as 'hon' it's been gay men to women or other gay men.
     
  18. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    In the US at least, "hun" can even be used by, say, a waitress in a diner or a neighborhood bar: "Would you like some more lemonade, hun?"
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  19. prankstare Senior Member

    São Paulo
    Portuguese - Brazil

    My friend is from the North California in the USA. By the way she doesn't use "hun", as I said previously. She spells it "hon".
     
  20. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    The term is considered particularly common in Baltimore, Maryland, where in addition to being used as a term of address it is also used to describe the kind of Baltimore woman who would call other people "hon" (as in Tracy was a real Baltimore Hon.) It is considered such a Baltimore thing to say that there are even large billboards on the highway as you enter the city that say "Welcome to Baltimore, Hon!"
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  21. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Me too. It's also something that I could imagine US speakers saying (in that stereotypical way that we're aware of different terms).

    In the hun/hon debate - I definitely see "hon" in most instances. For me "hun" is a very derogatory term for a German, perhaps AE doesn't have this slang.
     
  22. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    "Hun" as an ethnic slur for Germans is extremely rare and archaic in the US. The world may be used by someone talking about World War I and consciously using the terminology of that era, for instance, but it wouldn't normally be used in a modern-day context. "Kraut" would be used instead.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  23. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    In my post, I suggested, but did not note explicitly, something about this usage:

    Women might address both men and women with this term, and those men and women might be family members, friends, or even strangers. Among men, though, (or at least, among non-gay American men :)) the term "hon" would probably be reserved for husbands addressing their wives whom they were likely under other circumstances to address with the full word "honey":
    Hey, Hon? Do you know what happened to the roll of tape that was in the drawer?
     
  24. MikeLynn

    MikeLynn Senior Member

    This British versus American hun and hon reminds me a bit of the difference between mum and mom in the respective forms of the language that have the same meaning although they sound different and none of them is related to Attila the Hun :)
     
  25. kitenok Senior Member

    But, to the best of my knowledge, the pronunciation is the same in AE and BE (rhymes with son-of-a-gun). The issue with spelling hon or hun is whether to retain the vowel in the original word honey or spell the word like it sounds (hun) and risk confusion with Attilla or the Germans. I don't think this has been identified as a BE/AE spelling or pronunciation difference, has it?
     
  26. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Oh yes, it's a spelling only difference. If I was reading a novel and saw "I saw a real hun on the bus" I'd be thinking more pencil moustache than pencil skirt.
     
  27. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Nosy nosy question - but relevant-ish to the thread (I think!)

    When you say you are not an "older woman", does that mean you are (a) not older (b) not a woman?:D

    I have a supplementary question about whether you only use those endearments in a Barbadian context. But I shall ask that when/if I learn the answer to my first nosy question!
     
  28. MikeLynn

    MikeLynn Senior Member

    Not being a native speaker, it's really difficult for me to make a judgement here, but I remember that any time I said mum instead of mom, my brother-in-law, a Californian, was able to tell the difference in sound and told me that I'd been spending too much time with my British friends ;) No offense intended he would say it just to tease me a bit, but I believe he was able to tell the difference. I don't want to change the topic of the original thread, but I do believe, that there might be a similar problem
     
  29. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi Mike

    You're right that there's a difference in pronunciation between BrE "mum" and AmE "mom".

    But both BrE and AmE speakers would pronounce the endearment we're talking about in the same way - because it's an abbreviation of "honey". Which has the same vowel sound as "up":)
     
  30. kitenok Senior Member

    Oh, yes, there is certainly a difference in pronunciation between BE mum and AE mom. I meant to suggest in my post that there is no analogous difference between hun and hon - we are dealing with different issues here.
     
  31. MikeLynn

    MikeLynn Senior Member

    Thanks a lot for the clarification of the issue, kitenok
     
  32. lablady

    lablady Senior Member

    Central California
    English - USA
    I think that's exactly the reason many of us spell it "hon". The only time I would consider spelling the longer word as "hunny" is if I happened to be paraphrasing Winnie the Pooh.

    I agree with all the other posters here. Men don't usually use "hon" unless they are speaking to their wives/sweethearts. It's use by women varies.
     
  33. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Or gay male friends as noted by ewie above.
     
  34. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I hope you will also explain what you mean by 'a Barbadian context' too, Mrs.L. Or at least provide one;)
     
  35. Nymeria Senior Member

    Barbados
    English - Barbadian/British/educated in US universities blend
    I'm very much female Looblez :) I'm just young!
     
  36. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Nymeria is from Barbados, wiño:)
     
  37. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    :eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:I have the memory of a halibut. A dead halibut.

    Halibut n. a fish not renowned for its memory (~OED)
     
  38. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Tentative conclusion, vost.

    "Hon" is used by females to other females and to men.
    "Hon" is used by gay men to females and to other gay men.
    "Hon" is used by heterosexual men to their wives (in AmE).

    So it's up to you whether you want to use it to your long-lost friend.
     
  39. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Calling strangers "Hon" is something I associate with my grandparents' generation, but a woman who serves me food at the cafeteria called me "Hon" for a few months. As far as I can tell, she calls everybody "Hon", but it seems just a little strange for her to call me "Hon" since she is a member of my own generation. I do have to admit we are all older (if not wiser) than we used to be.

    I was waiting for the right opportunity to call her "Hon" too, just to be fair, but she has been learning regular customers' names lately and now she calls me by my name so I wouldn't call her "Hon" now. (Context is everything.)

    I have been thinking about calling younger people "Hon" when I get old enough. I don't think it would raise any eyebrows once I become grandfatherly. In fact, I could probably start calling four-year-olds "Hon" now and they can grow up as I grow older and maybe see me as I saw my grandparents' friends.

    I would not assume a man was homosexual if he called a younger woman "Hon". (Remember context.)
     

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