Pet Names

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:

  1. They’re a nice human being and that’s how they show their relationship with you.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!


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