Hi eleannorThat's a tricky question; let me tell a short story that answers it, in a sense.
In class we were asked what would be the equivalent for 'sorry, mate' (said to a guy that someone accidentally bumps into), but said to a girl.
That's why I'm actually not sure which slang I need.
Your professor may be captious, but to be honest, his question is unanswerable.I was pretty surprised when I heard that, too :'D I mean, maybe my sense of English language if off here, but I would actually feel kind of offended if some stranger bumped into me and said 'sorry, mate' so colloquialy.
But still, I have to find out what the female version of the word is; our professor is rather captious...
Would you use any of those if you accidentally bumped into someone, GWB? (I can't imagine that you would....)In the US, in this kind of situation, if one were casually addressing a female with whom one is acquainted, and who was not going to bring a lawsuit against you for sex descrimination, or a job grievance for using 'demeaning' or 'overly familar' terms, you might say any of the following depending on your relationship, age, and location in the country:
Sorry, honey (or sorry, hun for short)
You may even hear "sorry, mama", or "sorry, mami" (pronounced like "mommy"), especially from persons whose first language is Spanish.
I wouldn't, because I am by nature stiff and formal, but my boss -- who is a very nice man -- habitually addresses women (including strangers) as "dear"*. He does it constantly, and he only means to be nice, but I keep telling him that he is going to get an EEO complaint one of these days...Would you use any of those if you accidentally bumped into someone, GWB? (I can't imagine that you would....)
Your professor may be captious, but to be honest, his question is unanswerable.
Please refer him to this thread, if necessary.
EDIT: I think I may have heard someone (male) say to another male "sorry mate". But a female - and most males - would not say this. And there is no equivalent for what a male would say to a female, or a female would say to a female.
Even 'queen' in the North West, but I know people over 60-65 that still say this, nobody else younger says it, so it'll go when they do, but I heard it said loads of times when I went to a funeral recently. Actually I think Paul O'Grady used to say this on his TV show, too. He's from the NW region, too. Every area, every generation has their own preferences. This sort of level of language is prone to massive variation, you could probably fill a book with all the different options around the world.In England a "woman of a certain age" might be addressed as missus. Thus "sorry missus". In many parts of Britain one may be addressed as an animal hen (Scotland), Pet (North East), duck (Midlands).
If I bumped into someone male, I would simply say "sorry". I definitely wouldn't say "sorry mate/lad/pal".
If I bumped into someone female, I would also simply say "sorry".