Not like animal names. Like ‘terms of affection’ names. I personally don’t use pet names. I’m more likely to affectionately insult you than use a pet name. Even when teaching, I think I only called a pupil ‘mate’ once accompanied with a fist bump, and that was because he’d been tearful and was embarrassed and it was a joke to make him laugh.
Why am I writing this post? My friend chose the topic for today. I like writing about random things!
I’m also selective about who I ‘let’ call me pet names. The barman in the pub over the road from uni used to call me ‘petal’ and ‘flower’ (like he did with everyone) but I hated it so I called him it back. Then it kind of became a running joke. To me, people tend to fall into 3 categories when calling someone a pet name:
- They’re a nice human being and that’s how they show their relationship with you.
- They’re pretending to be a nice human being or want onlookers to think that they’re a nice human being. It’s fake basically, but the person doing it might not even realise the words are meaningless.
- They’re being derogatory or condescending and it’s meant as an insult or a way to manipulate people.
Lots of people use pet names all the time in conversations, I just personally don’t like using them. I don’t mind people who fall into category 1 calling me pet names, because it’s a genuine encounter. It’s 2 and 3 that make me feel uneasy. Chances are, if the person falls into 2 or 3, I’d be distancing myself from them anyway though!
My favourite pet name I’ve been called, besides my friendly joking with the barman, was when I was in hospital in France. I was the youngest on the ward by about 50 years and I was the only English person. They also had massive pronunciation issues calling me by my surname and couldn’t just refer to me as ‘Madame’ because I wasn’t old enough. France is quite formal in that respect, or at least these nurses were, and they weren’t happy calling me by my first name even though I said it was fine. So I was nicknamed ‘la petite anglaise’. Quite how that was better or more ‘proper’ than using my first name I don’t know, but it made us laugh. It also reassured the old lady, who had dementia, who I was sharing a room with that me and my Dad weren’t talking some devil’s language she couldn’t understand and trying to conspire against her, as she had frequent reminders that I was foreign whenever nurses came in. My Dad doesn’t speak any French so had to mime everything to the nurses when I went down for my operation, which really upset the poor old lady!
So there you go, a post on pet names!