Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Misplaced Familiarity

Nurse [age 25] says: Magandang umaga, 'Nay! (Good morning, Mum!)

Patient [age 35] responds: Magandang umaga rin. (Good morning to you, too.)

Nurse: Kamusta pakiramdam niyo, 'Nay? (How are you feeling, Mum?)

Patient: Maayos naman. (I'm doing well.)

Nurse: Nakainom ka na ba ng gamot, Nanay? (Have you taken your medicine, Mummy?)

Patient: Close tayo, 'te?!!!

I find it annoying, don't you? Western readers may have difficulty understanding this (as I do not think this happens a lot in Anglophone countries), but a dreadful trend of misplaced familiarity has risen in the Philippines lately. These days, many professionals - most of whom are city-dwellers; supposedly more educated than their provincial counterparts - are wont to address their business contacts as if they were close kin. Senior familial names such as NANAY (Mummy) or TATAY (Daddy); 'NAY (Mum) or 'TAY (Dad) are now being commonly used to address a patient, a tindera (vendor), or a mamimili (customer). When has it ever been appropriate to call a total stranger something so intimate as 'Mummy' or 'Daddy'?

Some call it affection, sure. But know that not every one is open to your assumption that they are fine with your intrusive and misplaced affection. Use what is sensitive and appropriate. Use MISS, MA'AM, or SIR. In Tagalog: ALI
or MAMÂ. KUYA (elder brother) or ATE (elder sister) is usually safe to use but it is not entirely advisable, either. Believe me, I have heard quite a few respond with "kapatid ba kita?" (are we siblings), and I do not blame them.

However, I am willing to accept this breaking of social borders for harmony's sake. Only and if only it makes sense. I mean, really, a lady 10 years your senior cannot be your Mummy.

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