People learn and are accustomed to the norms and beliefs within their own society, and as a result of this, the way in which people communicate with each other differs across cultures. The sociolinguistic theory suggests that there are multiple different factors which determine a person’s language, such as culture and class--which is a group established by a person’s economic and social position. As a university student in a first world country, how I address someone varies from how another person from across the world would. One thing that is universal, though, is that how one addresses others displays the amount of respect and consideration that one has for someone else.
To begin, calling someone names and/or terms that degrade and belittle the receiver is not only extremely condescending and impertinent, but it also exposes the amount of regard that an individual has for their peers and acquaintances. For example, everyone has specific pronouns that they associate with. While I believe that it is only polite to recognize someone by their preferred pronouns, it is axiomatic that numerous people have no interest in respecting the ways in which others wish to identify themselves. If someone introduces themselves as, for instance, “they/them”, I always try to concede to their requests. Sometimes, though, it can be easy to forget and accidentally address them wrong. Typically, when I slip up, the other person reminds me of my fault and I try my best to never make the same error.
When I was a young age, I most likely made the social mistake of calling someone the wrong pronoun, because back then, I never even considered that people would want to identify a different way. It seems, though, that as Western culture progresses, people as a whole seem to be becoming more accepting of the fact that gender does not equal sex, but instead is the learned cultural roles “assigned” to males and females. So, despite being biologically male, a person may identify better with the roles that are commonly attributed to females, and thus, may prefer to be recognized as “her/she”. As I have matured and become more educated, I have learnt the importance of respecting everyone’s wishes.
Personally, I believe that when someone consciously ignores another’s request, it only conveys their insensitivity to others’ preferences and reveals aspects of underlying self-perceived superiority. In addition, how you address someone may vary depending on your relationship with that person, as well as the method of communication. Firstly, how one acknowledges a good friend or close family member, such as a sibling, normally differs than how they would acknowledge a person in a position of authority, a colleague, or someone that they are less familiar with. How I address those that I am more comfortable with is definitely different than how I would address another; the code that I use depends on the person that I am interacting with. For example, I commonly refer to my companions by nicknames, and they do the same.
We also speak informally with each other and use jargon that we are familiar with. Yet, when speaking with a professor or a doctor, I would address them by their appropriate title and last name to be respectful. Moreover, the way in which one is speaking with another may affect their choice of words. Generally, the term I use when addressing someone verbally is the same as how I would address them over text or email. When I have to formally communicate with someone, the ways in which I acknowledge them are usually the same over all mediums. Although languages and terms of addresses are different across cultures, it is evident that respect and positions of authority play a large role in how people speak to each other.