GOPAL SIJAPATI MAGAR
How do you name or address your conversational counterpart? Do you address by his/her name or by a nickname or by a different naming word? While naming or addressing our counterpart, some subtle distinctions are often made in the vocabulary choice. Women are more likely than men to be addressed by different terms. They are often named, titled and addressed differently by their different conversational partners. So, women are said to be subject to a wider range of address terms than men.
Tulsi Thapa, for instance, might expect Mrs. Thapa from an unfamiliar person, mum/mummy from her kids, Tulsi from friends or/and elder siblings, sweety/darling from husband and madam from a student. A closer look at such a choice of making different kinds of linguistic terms not only displays a perspective on what we do with our own language but also indicates an unglamorous reason why we are accustomed with these sorts of address terms. A simple answer for this might be is that boys and girls are brought up differently, and men and women are addressed as per their roles they play in society.
In looking at some of the issues involved in naming and addressing, one might notice a sense of linguistic inequality which is, indeed, a muted but most perilous issue in the studies of linguistics. In my earlier article under the title “Linguistic bias against women” published in the same column (Nov. 4, 2011), I had presented some examples that had apparently advocated the issues related to the sexism in language. And, in this write-up I am not trying to revive the old feminist squabble but call attention to the way we speak due to our slovenly vigilance over the integrity of language. In many societies in the world there is a crystal clear tendency on the practice of naming words that are used while addressing females. A good friend of mine, for example, usually calls his wife addressing “keti” (girl).
Furthermore, in colloquial conversation, “girl” typically refers to both women and female children, while “guy” is similarly used for both men and male children. Here, both “guy” and “girl” are conveniently imprecise terms to refer to adults and children. But while “guy”, originally the generic term for men, condescends to engulf baser forms, “girl” as a juvenile term, demeans the status of the adult female. This sort of linguistic inequality is, thus, the base insult though it does not seem to bother many women, as they themselves use it so. Therefore, we must realize the notion that how we say something is at least as important as what we say.