Terms of endearment. Such a misnomer. They have always made me cringe. I am an Indian, so being called sweetheart, dear, honey, by our parents was not a common thing growing up. These words are, just like plenty of other things, a foreign export. I have nothing against Western concepts being assimilated into our society. Mutual exchange of customs has always been a norm. And globalisation has only helped speed the process. The more we are alike in terms of the good things, the better. The world will be a better place. No, we won't lose our identities if we let go of some of our more backward traditions. Negatives do not define us. Positives do. But, when we are exporting certain cultural things from anywhere in the world, we are also exporting the history associated with them. Nothing really exists without precedence. I am simply tired of reminding people that I do not like being called "dear" and "honey". There even exists a Bengali term of endearment that is spoken with the same tone of faux familiarity and a hint of condescension as these English words. That famous term is "babu". Older people calling me that is fine (does that make me a practitioner of ageism somehow?). But, really when a peer calls me that it's an absolute no-no. Terms of endearment are mostly used by people who tend to habitually use them while talking to pretty much everyone they know. I once knew a girl (who is happily married now) in my UG class who said the word "babu" so often, she once called a professor that, by mistake of course. You get the picture right? If a loved one, in a truly endearing way calls me any of these terms, I will still cringe because of my past and ongoing experience with these words. They all seem seeped in dubious hypocrisy and insincere candour. They try to forge a forced bond of familiarity between the speaker and the one spoken to, no matter whether their encounter lasts 5 minutes or continues sporadically over decades.
I have been trying to find out if my sentiments are echoed around the world or if there is just something wrong with me. I have compiled a list of articles you might be interested in reading on this issue and gain some perspective.
- DON’T Call Me Dear!
- Don't patronise me, Darling
- Frankly, my dear: Why Terms of Endearment are Not Ok
- I'm not your honey, darling, sweetheart, dear, ducky, or any other diminutive creature
Don't forget to share your thoughts on this.
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