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Thread: U.S.A. Culture and Language Help

  1. #101
    Quote Originally Posted by alexthecheesepuff
    Back to your question. Firstly, I think it depends on how you what to portray your story. For example, while Harry Potter contains dark themes, but its not classified as a teen/young adult book. Any teen knows that that an institution that houses teens ages 11-17 will cause much more trouble than portrayed in the series - and I'm not talking about pranks trouble, if you get my gist. Really, if you're going for a more realistic feel, America students aren't afraid of their teachers and equally unafraid to bash/insult them. Usually, a teacher that is considered 'good' is someone who can connect with the kids, which obviously requires some of the standard proprieties/mannerisms to be dropped. A teacher like, for instance, McGonagall would be considered really bad/boring and probably called derogatory names behind her back.
    Yes, but American high school teachers can't turn you into a ferret.

    Hogwarts teachers have a lot more discretion in punishing students. Only a few (like Snape) really get carried away, but just knowing your teacher carries a wand and is much better at using it than you are would quell a lot of misbehavior.

  2. #102
    Neville's Girl
    In my middle school there were teams, and you would have all your core classes with the students on your team. But you would have your electives and Physical education with students from the entire school. I;ve never heard of high school doing that, though.


  3. #103
    Wizengamot Hufflepuff
    Kill the Spare
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    Jun 2008
    using rare and complicated words
    Hi there

    I have a question for you. I've just come back from the States and I noticed how polite everyone was. One particular thing that struck me was how Americans refer to everone as Sir, Madam or Miss. Now I have a question. If an older person (man or woman) were addressing a much younger man, who were perhaps a shop assistant, would they say "Excuse me Sir?" - I know they'd use 'Miss' if it were a girl behind the counter but 'Sir' sounds extreme if the person in question is a young man in teens or early twenties.

    This is still for my American character, by the way, who in my mind will always be Prof Dick thanks to your earlier responses


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  4. #104
    "Miss" actually isn't used much where I live. It might be a regional thing. An older man might just say, "Excuse me!", with nothing on the end. "Sir" might be used, but I would just leave it off.


  5. #105
    "Sir" is a little formal, especially for a younger person, especially for a shop assistant. A very polite person might use it, but most would just say, "Excuse me," possibly adding, "young man" if they are much older.

  6. #106
    Neville's Girl
    I believe the term that is generally used is "ma'am" and not "madam" because that can refer to some thing else.


  7. #107
    It usually depends on where you are.

    In the South, politeness is a big deal. For people who are originally from the South (or who have lived there for a very long time), words like 'ma'am' are a regular part of their vocabulary. 'Sir' is also common. Where I live (suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia), I don't hear 'miss' very often. I would say that 'ma'am' and 'sir' are more common amongst adults, though children raised here will probably address older women as 'ma'am' (including their mothers, grandmothers, teachers, and strangers). The same goes for 'sir' and older men, though I don't usually hear a kid saying 'sir' to a stranger. Their fathers and teachers, though, yes.

    An older woman in the South might call a younger woman 'ma'am,' but it's more a habit than a polite or respect thing. For example, if I were getting an older woman's attention, she might say 'yes ma'am?' to indicate she'd heard me.

    I can't really speak for places outside the South from my own experience except for Washington state. There, 'ma'am' is definitely not used like it is in the South. My family isn't originally from the South, and I didn't grow up saying 'ma'am' or 'sir' to everybody. That was something that surprised me a little when I first moved here, how often people say 'ma'am.' I remember thinking it was strange that children called their parents 'sir' and 'ma'am,' since I had never said or heard anything of the sort. I still don't say 'ma'am' or 'sir' at all really (not because I lack respect , just because it's not part of my vocabulary), even after living in the South for almost thirteen years. In Washington, people are still polite, but that Southern hospitality thing isn't there.

    So, again, it depends on where you are. In the South, expect to be called 'ma'am' if you're a woman, but if you're hanging out on the West coast, not so much.

  8. #108
    Yeah, it's all about location. Every area everywhere in the United States has different standards of politeness.

    The South is definantly the most formal. 'Sir', 'Ma'am', and all that are still expected. Some older woman still believe girls should curtsy.

    But there are also places where people are very friendly. When I went on a concert tour in Hawaii, the people there though nothing of putting their arms around us and calling us 'cousin'.

    Like I said, it all depends on setting.

  9. #109
    I've also heard older men saying, "Excuse me, son." Also while people are more polite in public, when they are relaxing with family and friends they tend to be more informal.

    If my uncle asked me to get him something, for example, I wouldn't reply "Yes, sir." I'd either say "Sure" or "Do it yourself". But that is just me.

  10. #110
    I go with the majority; 'sir' and 'ma'am' is just commonly used. Not always out of respect or politeness, but because I don't know every stranger's name


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