Madam, Ma'am, Sir (military/police)

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BJ82

New Member
Cantonese
I write a novel, so I am curious about the military/police.

In some Asian countries, you don't need to use "madam/ma'am/sir", but I know that some English speakers in Asian countries and Hong Kong use "madam/ma'am/sir".

I am a Chinese who lives in Sweden. You don't need to use "madam/ma'am/sir" here.
 
  • Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    In France, in the military/police, you address to people by using their rank name: Commandant/Capitaine/Lieutenant/Chef/...
     

    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    In Finland, in the military we say "Mr/Mrs. [rank]": Herra/rouva kapteeni. I'm not sure about the police.
     
    In Greek, as in Finnish, we say "Mrs/mr military rank in vocative": «Κυρία/κύριε λοχαγέ» [ciˈɾi.a lɔ.xaˈʝe] (female)/[ˈci.ɾi.e lɔ.xaˈʝe] (male) --> Mrs Captain (f.), Mr Captain (m.), or,
    "Mrs/mr Police rank in vocative": «Κυρία/κύριε αστυνόμε» [ciˈɾi.a as.tiˈnɔ.me] (female)/[ˈci.ɾi.e as.tiˈnɔ.me] (male) --> Mrs Police Captain (f.), Mr Police Captain
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    One of things that distinguish UKers and USAers is that we Britons do not address our police officers as 'Sir' or 'Madam' - whereas they do. 'Ma'am' is reserved for addressing HM the Queen (Elizabeth II).

    And although not mentioned here, be careful not to use 'Madame' in any context outside addressing a French female or in British English, at least, the owner of a brothel.
     
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    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Can't say I really know 'Why?', BJ82. Normally, we'd say, 'Yes, Officer' and 'No, Officer'.

    (I'm hoping another Briton will help me out here … !)
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    In the US, you would definitely address police officers or military personnel as "Sir" or "Ma'am/Madam". You want to give them maximum respect. Otherwise they could arrest you or fine you. :D
    But this is not exclusive to police officers by any means. It can extend to any person in authority or anyone you feel deserves your respect. Actually, very polite people use "Sir" or "Ma'am/Madam" with pretty much everyone they don't know, especially older people.
    You might help an (older) lady carry her grocery sacks and say "May I help you, Ma'am?" People might routinely answer "Yes, ma'am". "No, sir" when answering any question. It softens conversation: "Excuse me, ma'am". Some say it is a sign of education to use these terms systematically whenever you can.
    But you will also find people who hardly ever say "Sir/Madam". I think you hear it much more as you travel towards the south and the midwest, less in big cities. But still, it depends...
     
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    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    In the US, you would definitely address police officers or military personnel as "Sir" or "Ma'am/Madam". You want to give them maximum respect. Otherwise they could arrest you or fine you. :D
    When I was in New York, I said "Thank you officer" as I would back home and no-one batted an eyelid. Is this some sort of unwritten rule?
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    When I was in New York, I said "Thank you officer" as I would back home and no-one batted an eyelid. Is this some sort of unwritten rule?
    No, you just need to have a polite, smiling, deferent, submissive attitude to them. Some of them are on serious power trips, think they are at war in Afghanistan, and would just love to slam you on the ground, give you a hefty fine, or take you in. 'Sir' helps a lot, but so could 'officer' with a nice grin. Irish is also a rather positive thing to be.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    In France, in the military/police, you address to people by using their rank name: Commandant/Capitaine/Lieutenant/Chef/...
    In Russia it's normally "comrade" + rank (this tradition stuck from the Soviet era). Rank + surname as a form of addressing may be used towards subordinates only (in those rare cases when an officer needs to address his subordinates formally).
     

    Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    In Russia it's normally "comrade" + rank (this tradition stuck from the Soviet era)
    Great! This is an information. I thought това́рищ would have been lost with the end of the Soviet Union. In France, only members of the communist party call each other "camarade" ;)

    By the way, the origin of camarade/comrade/това́рищ goes back to the French Revolution, as a way to call each other in a more egalitarian manner than Sir/Madam, so saying comrade + rank is quite a snook to history!

    EDIT: I just saw the interesting etymology of това́рищ, coming from товaр = product, goods. това́рищ would then be a "little product"? :confused: товaр itself apparently comes from Turk tovar.
    Awwal12, you have any more information about this etymology?
     
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    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    Didn't they call each other "citoyen" during the French Revolution? "Citoyen Général"... Of course, both the usage and the intentions were very much the same for the French and for the Russians.
     

    Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    Yes you are right, it began with citoyen, and later with camarade, which became widely used in the 19th century by socialist movements.
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    EDIT: I just saw the interesting etymology of това́рищ, coming from товaр = product, goods. това́рищ would then be a "little product"? :confused: товaр itself apparently comes from Turk tovar.
    -ищ in товарищ is not diminutive. It's reckoned to also come from Turkic: tavar (goods) + еš, iš (friend, comrade), so originally товарищ is "business/travelling companion". Marxists did not care too much about etymology.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Yes. Moreover, the actual suffix -ищ- is augmentative, but then it's always accompanied by a neuter or a feminine inflection (-ище, -ища), which obviously isn't the case. Its existence might have played a role in the stress shift, though.
     

    Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    It's reckoned to also come from Turkic: tavar (goods) + еš, iš (friend, comrade), so originally товарищ is "business/travelling companion"
    Great! Thank you!
    Does the influence of Turkic on Russian come from the Turkic-speaking former republics of the USSR?
     
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    Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    In Spain, members of the armed forces to address a superior must say: "my + rank".

    "Mi sargento", "mi capitán", etc...
    In France, the protocol in the armed forces is to address a superior with "Mon + rank" when the superior is a man, and just "rank" if the superior is a woman:
    To a man: Mon Commandant/Mon Capitaine/Mon Lieutenant/...
    To a woman: Commandant/Capitaine/Lieutenant/...

    It is said that "Mon" is this context should not be interpreted as a possessive adjective, but the abbreviation of "Monsieur" (although the etymology of Monsieur itself is Mon Sieur = my sir)
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Great! Thank you!
    Does the influence of Turkic on Russian come from the Turkic-speaking former republics of the USSR?
    The influence of Turkic languages on Russian comes from more than a millennium of linguistic contacts, starting right from proto-Slavic (there is a couple of early common loans usually ascribed to Huns or Avars). Then most East Slavs were tributaries of the Khazar Khaganate, while Danubian Slavs were ruled by Bulgars (so many Turkic loanwords come from Church Slavonic). Then there were several centuries of local contacts with Pechenegs, Torks and Cumans. Then Russian principalities became vassals of the Golden Horde. And then there was a huge mass of Turkic cultural terms coming from the XVI and the XVII centuries, when the most available high culture in Russia happened to come from Turkic-dominated Muslim countries, starting from the Ottoman Empire. All the subsequent period, however, is marked by pretty much unilateral loans from Russian to Turkic languages (aside from some exoticisms).
     
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    rarabara

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    I write a novel, so I am curious about the military/police.

    In some Asian countries, you don't need to use "madam/ma'am/sir", but I know that some English speakers in Asian countries and Hong Kong use "madam/ma'am/sir".

    I am a Chinese who lives in Sweden. You don't need to use "madam/ma'am/sir" here.
    in turkish, we generally use
    "Komutanım" this also commonly starts with "Emret/Emredersin" but not as a salutation statement in the entrance of sentence ,to finalize the sentence or any expression especially after a taken command (if you are willing to directly express/convey your wish or any type of opinion to your commmander you will start with "Komutanım," or "Komutanım;" as it follows with comma or semicolon.(generally all the expressions are tonal (strict/hard tone))

    but in e-mails and for instance at somewhere where very official communications are in hand,then the sentence should directly start with

    "'Sayın' Ahmet Şahinçelenk" or "'Sayın' Şahinçelenk" and it follows with a short or fixed paragraph or a sentence.
     
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    mcrasnich

    Member
    Italy - Italian & Friulian
    That's very interesting. I just don't think that here in Italy we address police and army officers in any particular way. Certainly I wouldn't say, sì signore, sì signora. I think we treat them just like any civil servant.
     

    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    I believe in Italy, as in France, you just address an army officer by their rank (sì, tenente/ sì, colonnello/ sì, maresciallo). I don't know (and I don't think) one uses the female versions of those rank titles with women officers, that is, women officers are also addressed by using the male version of rank titles (unfortunatly that's the norm with almost any title in Italy).
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    In France, the military are reluctant to feminise rank titles, but there are some rules:
    • Among the military, when addressing a male officer of higher rank, you say mon capitaine, mon colonel, mon général... Curiously, according to etiquette manuals, in this case mon is not a possessive but the abbreviation of monsieur.
    • If a civilian wants to call an officer by his rank, he may not use mon.
    • When addressing a female officer, you just use her rank: capitaine, colonelle, générale... (because mon stands for Sir). The difference is visible in writing but it is barely noticeable in speech (it may be heard sometimes, according to local accents).
    Even more curiously, nothing of the above applies to the Navy. They don't feminise rank titles. I don't know if it still has to do with women aboard meaning bad omen... :rolleyes:
    Source: Féminisation dans les armées — Mon/Ma adjudante - Français notre belle langue
     
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