'Pal', 'chum', or 'mate' - condescending?

SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
'Pal', 'chum', or 'mate' wouldn't be appropriate for a woman. All the traditional terms of affection for women have come to seem condescending precisely because they are used only with women.
(That's Not What I Meant!; D. Tannen)

'Pal', 'chum', or 'mate' seem to be only used with men, but, apparently, have not come to seem condescending because of that... or have they?

Thanks.
 
  • twinklestar

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I think it depends on the contexts. People sometimes use 'pal' to express annoying as Cambridge Dictionary defines.

    [ as form of address ] used when talking to a man, sometimes in a friendlyway but more often to a man who is annoying you:

    Look, pal, you're asking for trouble.
    A New Zealander told me he would hardly use 'mate' to refer to his male friends, though a few very close male friends address him so. He specified 'mate' is commonly used in Australia, mostly by the working class. From his words, I sensed 'mate' is out of the taste of his, who is from the middle class?

    And you may find the post on another websiste interesting. It lists usage of the words-mate,chum, pal, etc.
     
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    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Round where I live, "mate" is very common: in fact we even use it as a friendly way of addressing total strangers. :)

    Less common is "pal": it can be used a bit insultingly, but isn't necessarily. It would really depend on the context. It's not one I personally use.

    But "chum" sounds very dated and old-fashioned. I can't remember the last time I heard anyone say it.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Your example does not comment on the nuances of 'Pal', 'chum', or 'mate'- it merely states that they refer only to males.

    The passage makes the assumption that 'Pal', 'chum', or 'mate' are not condescending and, in general terms, that is true.

    They can have other nuances, but they are not condescending.

    The second sentence leaves this subject and without giving examples, it states that the equivalent terms that are only applied to women are condescending ("Dear" "Love" "the wife/girlfriend", etc. - my additions)

    The author then concludes that the reason that these latter sobriquets (used by men in order to refer to females) are, by nature, condescending is because they are used to describe females and for no other reason - the implication being that men are, institutionally/by nature or nurture, condescending towards women - but not towards each other.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    The topic clearly stated in the first post -- and title -- is whether certain ways of addressing men are condescending.
    The question of how women are addressed is off-topic, and I hope people will resist the temptation to comment on it.

    In my opinion:

    Any familiar form of address may seem disrespectful if the relationship between the two people does not warrant such familiarity or the tone of voice shows the familiarity is insincere.

    In American English, we don't use 'mate' in direct address. 'Chum' seems dated to me. 'Pal' as a form of address is not necessarily provocative, but I believe that these days it often is condescending and provocative. In this previous thread, people attempt to describe the difference between 'pal' as a friendly form of address and the provocative use: Pal, friend, buddy
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    'Pal', 'chum', or 'mate' seem to be only used with men, but, apparently, have not come to seem condescending because of that... or have they?
    Add "buddy" for the US. It is very common to use these terms in a condescending way. If you watch old US films, you will discover it has been common for 50 to 100 years. "Listen, pal, take my advice..." is condescending or even threatening.

    But the words are still used as affectionate terms among friends. I have a neighbor who calls me "buddy". It is different from how I speak, but it is not condescending.

    Any familiar form of address may seem disrespectful if the relationship between the two people does not warrant such familiarity or the tone of voice shows the familiarity is insincere.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup: I think all traditional terms of affection are still in non-condescending use. But they all can be mis-used, as described here.
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    Mate is strictly BE--not used in AE.

    Pal is an old-fashioned way to address someone (either in a friendly or annoyed way). More usual nowadays is buddy, or younger people might say dude.

    Chum, again sounds old-fashioned to me. It describes a friend but is not usually heard as a form of address. Nowadays you could say of a friend He's my buddy, bud, (or between two women of any age) my girlfriend.
     
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    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    "Chum" always makes me think of the Hardy Boys (first appearance 1927) and Nancy Drew (1930). It was used for both the Hardys' chum Chet Morton and Nancy's chums Bess and George.
     
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