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A salesclerk calls a customer "Hon"

Posted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:28 pm
by Stevenloan
(My coworker is the type who calls everyone “hon” or “sweetie.” It’s how she is but no one minds. A regular is in her line.)

Coworker: “Anything else, hon?”

Customer: “No. And I would prefer not to be called hon. “

Coworker: “Oh, I call everyone hon.”

Customer: *grunts*

Coworker: *gives her the receipt and change* “Thanks, hon, have a good day!”

Customer: “You, too, c***.”

Me & Coworker: *stunned silence*

Customer: “Oh, I call everyone that.”

- Hi everybody! Does it tick you off if a salesclerk calls you "hon" in a store?

Thanks a lot!

StevenLoan

Re: A salesclerk calls a customer "Hon"

Posted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 9:40 pm
by Phil White
This is a minefield, Steven!

"Hon" (honey) is just one of many terms used to refer to people you are speaking to. Some are generally only used from men to women, some only used to women (either from men or women), and some are used far more widely. And there are a few that men only use towards men. The ones which are only used towards women are often regarded as demeaning or insulting, and some people get very upset by their use.

Here are some that are used in the UK:

Hon (hun)
This is an abbreviation of "honey", and is normally used by men speaking to women. However, in the area where I live, it is often used by women when they are speaking to men or women. One shopkeeper here (a woman) whom I know quite well, as she was once my next-door neighbour, calls everybody "hon". My sister, who spent much of her time in the clubs of London, also used it a lot. But it will upset some people. "Hon" would rarely, if ever, be used between men.

Pet
This one is common in Newcastle in the Northeast of the UK. As far as I know, it is only ever used towards women, and generally by men. Many women find this extremely offensive. It is very much part of the Geordie dialect of Newcastle, and would certainly be used by shopkeepers (at the risk of upsetting some customers).

Love (sometimes written "luv")
This one is most commonly associated with London, but you will hear it throughout the UK. Like "hon", it is used from men to women, from women to men and between women. I have the sense that people do not take quite so much offence at this one as they do at "pet", but perhaps that is because it is so very widespread and used in both directions.

Ducks (sometimes "duckie")
This used to be very common in London. Unlike "hon" and "pet", which are often used by males when talking to their girlfriends or partners, and are therefore often seen as insulting when used with someone you do not know, "ducks" does not have this slightly sexual undertone to it. However, in recent years (at least forty years or more), "ducks" and particularly "duckie" have been used to refer to people in the gay community, and it is used in particular of gay actors. The stereotype is that camp actors always speak to each other with "duckie", and the word has now become a pejorative term to refer to gay people, specifically actors. The word is dying out in other uses, but my aunt who has never lived anywhere but London, and is now 95, still uses it when I phone her.

"my dear"
This one is associated with the West Country of England, particularly the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset. It can be used in either direction between men and women, but also between women and between men. As I spent several years in Dorset, it became part of my own idiolect and causes a few raised eyebrows when I use it up here on Merseyside. I have no doubt that some people would be upset to be addressed by "my dear", but it carries none of the sexual undertones of "pet", "hon", or even "love". I think most people would accept this one, particularly if the speaker has a West Country accent.

"mate"
This one is used almost exclusively between men. "Mate" is one of many slang terms for "friend", and is used in that meaning by both men and women to refer to friends of either gender, although it is most commonly used to refer to men. As a form of address, it is used exclusively between men. Until I moved back to the UK ten years ago, I would have said that it would never have been used by a shopkeeper or cashier, but I have found it to be commonplace, at least around these parts. Personally, I dislike it and find it rude, but not for the same reasons that "hon", "pet" and "love" are seen as unpleasant by some people.

This page lists a few more.

To go back to your question, personally it does not worry me (as a male in the UK) to be called "hon" by a shopkeeper or railway guard or whatever. It is absolutely part of the dialect up here. As a woman, it is possible that I would get upset. I simply don't know!

And another point about your question. The way you use "tick off" is an American idiom: When something ticks me off, I am annoyed by something. We don't use that idiom in the UK. However, we have another idiom with "tick off": If someone ticks me off, they are reprimanding me. I had to think twice when I read your question!

Re: A salesclerk calls a customer "Hon"

Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 4:31 pm
by Stevenloan
Phil White : Thanks a lot for your answer. It is really a big help. Enjoy your weekend.

StevenLoan

Re: A salesclerk calls a customer "Hon"

Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 5:02 pm
by BonnieL
I know it bothers some people, but I'm not one of them. I had a favorite clerk at the grocery who called everyone 'hon." She's not there anymore. She was always cheerful & I don't think I was the only customer who felt happier after interacting with her. :cry:

The only thing I find offensive is to be called 'young lady." I am a LONG way past being young! If the person thinks I'll be flattered by that, he (it's always a man) has another think coming. :x

Re: A salesclerk calls a customer "Hon"

Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 7:05 am
by Stevenloan
BonnieL : Thanks so much for your answer.

StevenLoan