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Regional Shift in Vocabulary

posted Apr 19, 2012, 3:27 AM by Christine Brower-Cohen   [ updated Apr 20, 2012, 5:23 PM by rcase@wbschools.org ]
April 19, 2012
On a recent visit to the south, I was repeatedly insulted with the offensive phrase, "Ma'am."  Smiling skycaps, the concierge, waiters, and waitresses all had the audacity to utter phrases, like, "Yes, Ma'am," "What can I get you, Ma'am?" "Can I help you with that bag, Ma'am?" 
How did this happen?  When did I become old enough to be called, "Ma'am?" 
On my last night of vacation, I was sitting in an Outback restaurant, pondering these very questions, when the waitress asked my young child, "Would you like fries with that, Ma'am?"  I breathed a sigh of relief.  Apparently in the south they use this obnoxious word for all females.  Yay!
Nothing made me feel better, though, than being back home in my grimy old New York, in yet another Outback restaurant and having the waiter ask me, "How would you like that steak cooked, Miss?"  Clearly this waiter  had excellent judgment, provided far better service than his southern counterparts, and obviously deserved a much larger tip.  I am now championing the term, "Northern Hospitality."
So in honor of New York-  dirt, grime, crime, educational shifts and all- I give you the Chairman of the Board and the best song about a city ever:

YouTube Video

Happy reading,