I was out at a cafe this morning doing some reading for my Tutorial (yes again!) and when I asked for a refill of hot water in my pot of tea, the young male barrister said, “No worries sweetheart, I’ll do that for you!” Yes, you heard right, he called me ‘sweetheart’ … not supposedly politically correct I know; but I actually didn’t mind at all.
When I returned home, it got me thinking about this subject. Why is it thought to be so offensive to call people (especially old dears like myself) names such as love or sweetheart? I don’t find it one bit patronising. In fact I love it … so there! However – and there is a ‘however involved here,’ I do not like being called ‘honey’ or ‘darling’.
To me, the latter two words are far more intimate than being called ‘sweetheart’ or even ‘love‘. What is this all about folks? It seems some terms of endearment are acceptable and others are not. But what I did not realise was: some workforces have now put out memos about this subject, like the Northern Rivers of New South Wales Local Health District for instance who put out one last December.
It seems that they have come down quite heavy with health workers on the use of terms such as mate, darling, sweetheart and honey. Now, keep in mind that they are talking about health workers – aka nurses and the like – speaking to their patients who may require some tender care. In fact, this is what the memo said:
“This type of language should not be used across any level of the organisation such as employee to employee or employee to client.”
But what ready got the staff riled up, was the banning of the word MATE, which for my overseas readers, is arguably the most Australian of words. MATE conjures up mateship and Aussie friendship. What will they be banning next? CRICKEY? Or perhaps G’DAY? Heaven forbid … surely not COBBER?! (some explanation of words at the end for the non-Aussies amongst us).
When asked, Nola Scilinato, organiser of the Northern NSW Nurses and Midwives Association said:
” … people need to use professional language while at work, but with the appropriate flexibility to interact normally with patients.”
I would agree, we need flexibility and surely now and again, we can use a little discretion and know when it is and isn’t appropriate to call someone sweetheart, love, darling, honey or dare I say it … MATE? Let’s all take a very deep breath and keep calm about the whole thing.
Crikey MATE, just call me sweetheart and she’ll be apples …
Go on … get your fill and read more about this on the Northern Star’s newspaper website. www.northernstar.com.au/news/mate-and-love-banned-from-hospital-corridors
Top five Aussie words
- Mate = Friend, don’t remember your name
- G’day = Greetings
- Arvo = Afternoon
- Tucker = Food
- Snags = Sausage
Other interesting Aussie words
- Cobber = Friend, don’t remember your name
- Sheila = A female of Australian origin.
- Strewth = Short for God’s truth
- Dunny = A composting toilet
- Crikey = An exclamation, variation of ‘Cripes’
- Apples= all will be well