honey

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NickJunior

Senior Member
Khmer
Hi Forum,

I have a question about the usage of the word "honey". How come, in the hospital setting, the youthful nurses called the elderly patients as "Honey"? Isn't this considered offensive. I think the elderly patients should be addressed as Sir or Madame. Please offer your cultural knowledge.
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    I imagine this is more a question of cultural norms than anything but it does involve the use of words in English.

    "Honey" is considered a term of endearment. It is a way of indicating a loving relationship rather than a formal one. That said, I know many elderly people who find it patronizing and a little condescending. If I might be allowed to spout pure opinion, I think that our culture has very little sense of duty to, or respect for, their elders, unlike many other cultures on this planet.

    "Madame" would be very formal in AE. "Madam" would would be less formal, but still more formal than "ma'am." "Ma'am" is quite common if you don't know the person. To continue to call someone "ma'am" or "sir" after seeing them on a daily basis might be interpreted as uncaring or dismissive, as if you had never seen them before.

    Sharing another unfounded opinion, I think Americans tend to value familiarity more than respect. This "honey" thing with nurses is not the only situation where this shows up. I believe there is an older thread talking about waitresses saying "honey" or "hon".
     
    Last edited:

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    From many encounters with health professionals I know that one of the questions they ask is "What should I call you?"
    I understand that they are meant to record the answer.
    I know for certain that the sample I have been in contact with don't listen to the answer I give.
     

    arturolczykowski

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Working in care setting in the UK I would say that in a past few years you could see the shift from using these considered by some people as patronizing forms of addressing elder people to more adequate ones as, for example, Mr X or Mrs Y. Saying that, I back panjandrum that the best way is to ask the person how they want to be addressed.
     

    Trisia

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    This isn't exactly about a hospital setting, but I think it's on topic-ish :eek::)

    A friend of mine (BE speaker) worked for some years in a residential home, and is still friends with the carers. She told me last month that the staff there had been told to avoid "honey" and "love" and address the residents only as "Mr. ___" and "Ms. _____." My friend was appalled, as she had always tried to address people in a way to make them comfortable. Sometimes that includes using only family names, and sometimes it means using terms of endearment - I've heard her use first names, "love," and "Mrs. ___," in the same day, with different people.

    I personally have no strong preference for the word "honey" and dislike "hon," but were I to be lying on a hospital bed I'd rather have people call me that than "Ms. T."

    On the other hand, I don't think I'd ever bring myself to calling a senior citizen (male or female) "honey," but I come from a different culture anyway.

    I suppose we're all different then. The "what should I call you?" approach seems best to me.


    EDIT: I see arturolczykowski and I crossed posts :D
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    From many encounters with health professionals I know that one of the questions they ask is "What should I call you?"
    I understand that they are meant to record the answer.
    I know for certain that the sample I have been in contact with don't listen to the answer I give.
    Yes, I think that if you said Please call me sir / madam most health care professionals would ignore your request - primarily because they feel their role is as a friend, not as a service provider; but perhaps also because doctors don't tend to think of themselves as the social inferior of their patients. Is it the mark of a professional that he never says sir to anyone?
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    When I was learning to be a nurse in the <gasp> 1970s, we were taught always to call patients who were older than us Mr. or Mrs. Whatever unless they invited us to do differently. We were also instructed to introduce ourselves as Miss or Mr. Whatever the first time we met them.

    I think that has changed.

    Some caregivers do use words like "honey" when speaking to patients, but I find it terribly condescending and would not care to be addressed like that.

    I wonder if one answer to the original question could be "It isn't intended to be offensive, but is sometimes perceived that way".
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    This thread is interesting. How about "darling"?
    In my personal experience, "darling" seems to be a word that is reserved for romantic relationships, not familial relationships or close friendships. I wouldn't think twice about a waitress calling me "hon" or "honey", but I would definitely sit up and take notice if she called me "darling." "Darlin'" in a Southern U.S. accent or an Irish accent wouldn't seem as surprising to me.
     
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