November 26, 2018

A dispute over "sweetie."

I'm seeing this:

The one thing these 2 lovebirds agree on is that "sweetie" is an old, old word. So I looked it up in the OED. As a word referring to a person (as opposed to a sweetmeat) first appeared in print in 1778 in a song you can sing to the tune of "O Kitten, My Kitten":
That's "sweet-ee," not "fweet-ee," though "fweet-ee" is good if you do baby talk with your sweetie.

Anyway, nice Revolutionary War song. It ends "Let Georgy do all in his power/It will not drink green or bohea-a/The baby will thrive ev'ry hour/And America live and be free-a."

There's a gap in the OED quotes from that old "sweet-ee"/"fweet-ee" in 1778 to 1925 when we see the word in "The Great Gatsby": "Tom's the first sweetie she ever had."

As for "honey bun," it first appears — as the OED has it — in 1902 in something called "Girl Proposition": "It was an Omnibus Love that reached out its red-hot Tentacles and twined around all Objects..associated with little Honey-Bun." There's also this cool quote from 2000 ("Lion's Game"): "You'd be surprised how many spouses don't give a rat's ass if the murderer of their departed honey-bun is found." But let me send you off with the cool little song from "South Pacific":



No! Wait a minute. Come back! I just discovered the most important "sweetie" conflict ever. It's about Obama! Here's a 2008 column from the language writer Ben Zimmer.
Last week on the Visual Thesaurus, William Safire and Nancy Friedman both weighed in on "Bittergate," the political furor that arose over Senator Barack Obama's comments about small-town Pennsylvanian voters ("It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion"). Now Obama has found himself under the microscope again for his use of a particular word, but this time the context is more "sweet" than "bitter." Responding to a question from television reporter Peggy Agar at an automobile plant outside of Detroit, Obama said, "Hold on one second, sweetie." Later he left Agar a voicemail apologizing about using the word sweetie to address her, calling it a "bad habit of mine." Lisa Anderson of the Chicago Tribune wryly wrote, "Welcome to 'Sweetie-gate,' a place paved with eggshells, where terms of endearment turn into political peccadilloes at the drop of a diminutive."...

Obama told Agar that he meant "no disrespect"... But even if Obama did not intend his use of sweetie as offensive, observers agreed that it was hardly an appropriate word for a presidential candidate to use when addressing a female reporter, running the risk of sounding dismissive or condescending to a professional woman....

Obama's "Sweetie-gate" opened an opportunity for pundits to mull over the acceptable social boundaries for terms of endearment, particularly those used by men to refer to women. In the Detroit Free Press, Mitch Albom writes that sugar, gorgeous, and cutie pie are "OK from your grandmother, your aunt or the 80-year-old immigrant dressmaker who says, 'OK, gorgeous, are you ready for your fitting?' But from a politician, a business associate or a stranger on a bus, they're bad."...

64 comments:

rhhardin said...

"How long have you been a server, Honey?"

rhhardin said...

Sweetie is accurate: the only reason to interact with women reporters is their sexual attraction. There's no use pretending otherwise.

rhhardin said...

Obscure rule: s appears as s at the end of the word, as in Greenfleeves.

Earnest Prole said...

Sweetie-pie trumps sweetie.

Tank said...

She might be confusing Sweetie with Sweetie Pie.

Another example of the Left ruins everything.

Lucid-Ideas said...

apropos of nothing...

Tank said...

LOL got beat by one comment.

tim in vermont said...

Waitresses call me sweetie all the time, should I punch them for impugning my manhood?

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

When Ben Shapiro offered to debate Occasional Cortex - she whined and said "Stop cat calling me."

When Marxism and coward meet.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

Perhaps the Neo-Marxists can write a guidebook on banned words and phrases.

"sweetie" is obvious.

Roger Sweeny said...

Wow, a little trans and homoerotic "subtext" in the video.

Dave Begley said...

Shouldn't the tag "Obama the boyfriend" be added?

tim in vermont said...

Remember that there is no such thing as cultural Marxism. But it’s just a coincidence that there is a movement with powerful media backing that is trying to remove all space for any culture other than that which, if “cultural marxists” did exist, they would approve.

tim in vermont said...

And cultural Marxists wonder why most people don’t like them.

Shouting Thomas said...

More suffering for our women to endure!

50,000 or so years of oppression! Go ahead and bitch!

I call my grandkids sweetie.

The Cracker Emcee Rampant said...

The semi-rural areas are still loaded with waitresses, cashiers, and courthouse clerks who call everyone “honey” or “dear”. How gigantic of a douche would you have to be to object to being addressed that way? Prog-gigantic, no doubt.

Fernandistein said...

Is "Sweaty Pie" good name for baby? Baby will be girl when finished?

tim in vermont said...

Irony isn’t dead, but cultural Marxists have their mobs out after it. Of course thats sort of like trying to stay dry in a rainstorm by deflecting each individual drop.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

Eggshells! Obama should have realized he was walking on eggshells!

gilbar said...

Obama told Agar that he meant "no disrespect"... But even if Obama did not intend his use of sweetie as offensive

Back (last year,) when i was still working, the mandatory sexual harassment classes i attended told us that the offender's intent meant NOTHING
What matters is the offended's interpretation
If ANYTHING you say Offends; STOP IT: or be FIRED

doesn't matter if the person offended was the person you were talking to, if someone knows of it and it offends them... It IS Improper workplace behavior

Doesn't matter if it's hearing someone called 'sweetie' or finding that someone's blue dress was stained

gspencer said...

Glad to see James Woods not let the little woman get to him.

traditionalguy said...

Precious is my favorite. It tells the story in one word. She calls me hunk, which has its problems.

LYNNDH said...

Actually, Sweetie is something of a Southern thing, along with "Honey" or "Hun" ( no, not the German Hun). I have never used it, but have been called that by women (hey, I am Male). So what.

Balfegor said...

Re: Lynndh:

Actually, Sweetie is something of a Southern thing, along with "Honey" or "Hun" ( no, not the German Hun). I have never used it, but have been called that by women (hey, I am Male). So what.

I sort of understand women's frustration with being called "Sweetie" since restaurant or coffee shop staff -- usually Black, always Southern -- sometimes address me with excessive familiarity using similar diminutives. That, and the occasional "have a blessed day", are nails-on-a-chalkboard irritating to me.

Hunter said...

The people who use sweetie the most nowadays are internet feminists.

As in, "It's not my job to educate you, sweetie"

I think they think it's emasculating.

Rick Turley said...

Hmmm. Working on my Southern senior gentleman cred, I recently offered to help two older black ladies load their heavy groceries into their truck. I got a couple of big smiles and a "Thank you, Sweetie, but we can manage it."

PS - Thank you for the tag! An unexpected and happy honor.

Howard said...

I agree Hunter. Also they use "man up" for a similar effect.

tim in vermont said...

I have to struggle to take “Have a blessed day” in the spirit in which it is offered.

Rick Turley said...

tim in vermont said...

"I have to struggle to take “Have a blessed day” in the spirit in which it is offered."

Bless your heart!

Will Cate said...

To echo Rick above -- Down here (SC) it's the women who call the men "sweetie" ... the men call the women "darlin' " ... and that's just the way it is

Leland said...

I've understood "sweetie" as offensive, but not because it was dismissive. To me, when you are "sweet" on or with somebody, you are showing a love interest. Thus calling them "sweetie" is sort of an implied pass: a vocal statement that you are attracted to the person.

I can see the dismissive variation as well. Either way, I don't use the term.

As for honey bun, my wife's favorite song when thinking of me is Blake Shelton's "Honey Bee":
You'll be my soft and sweet
I'll be your strong and steady
You'll be my glass of wine
I'll be your shot of whiskey
You'll be my sunny day
I'll be your shade tree
You'll be my honeysuckle
I'll be your honey bee

stevew said...

I'm flattered that you think I know the tune "O Kitten, My Kitten".

stevew said...

And where in the outrage/sexist continuum does "buttercup" fall?

Jay Elink said...

That first "ʃweetie" is pronounced like the "sweetie" we read today. It's called a "long s".

Many have wondered why it was used.

"Why in old English text was an 's' written as an 'f'?"

Jacqui Mchale, Adelaide, Australia

"It wasn't; it was just written differently according to its position in the word. The f-like s (like an f without the crossbar) was a tall variant used at the start or in the middle of a word, which the modern s was used at the end or after a tall s."

And: "It was to distinguish between a hard 's' and a soft 's'. The 'f' represented the soft 's' which is why you will find it spelt 'houfe' and 'houses' in old English texts."

Or in "Paradiʃe Loʃt."

cf:

https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-24563,00.html

YoungHegelian said...

In formal or business situations the proper familiar term of address for ladies is "Sugar Tits".

Try it! You'll find it opens doors!

FIDO said...

There is no word, tone or topic, that a woman, intent on taking offense, can't get angry about.

Is 'Butter Tits' gender specific?

RobinGoodfellow said...

rhhardin said...
Obscure rule: s appears as s at the end of the word, as in Greenfleeves.


Or as the second of a double-s: congrefs.

YoungHegelian said...

I'm not sure if the final "S" rule was taken over as an aping of the use of the letter Sigma in Classical Greek or not, but Sigma followed the same rule.

Rob said...

I call dogs "sweetie." Because they are.

Yancey Ward said...

I guessed that the Obama "Sweetie-gate" occurred before he had firmly secured the nomination in 2008, and was right. I couldn't imagine any female reporters being insulted after that point enough to write about it.

robother said...

You're fuch a fweetie.

n.n said...

Babies are a woman's burden. Women are beasts of burden. Hat tip: Obama.

Robert Lange said...

Have these women been told their whole lives they’re NOT irrelevant? Because THAT is mean.

The Elder said...

Offended by being called "Sweetie?" Are you kidding?

I have used that term to address my wife, our daughters, and now our granddaughters. It is short for "Sweetheart" and is my way of reminding them that I love them.

If that offends any of them, all I can say is . . . tough shit.

Christy said...

I learned long ago from a babe hound that "sweetie" was enormously helpful to avoid calling a woman by the wrong name. (He always had 2 women thinking they were exclusive and still managed to pick up somebody new Friday night.). Shamelessly I've used it a lot because my sister's picked offspring names that were easy to confuse and I got tired of going through a string of names everyone I addressed them. Which is more insulting? Calling someone sweetie or calling them by someone else's name.

The Elder said...

And if I ever use the word to address a female that I DON'T love, it will be because I am fluent in two languages -- English and Sarcasm. The recipient will know exactly which language I am using.

Christy said...

Ok. Take the apostrophe out of sister’s, every time instead of everyone, and the system insisted the period belongs after the closing parenthesis. The first two were my fault, though.

JaimeRoberto said...

I call my daughter sweetie all the time. Honey Bun would be kind of weird though.

William Chadwick said...

I knew someone whose name for God was "Big Sweetie." Blasphemy?

Biff said...

It's not just a southern thing. I'm a 50 year old male and frequently get called "sweetie," "hon," and so on by female staff at local restaurants and stores here in New Haven and on my frequent travels in the bluest areas of the northeast. It's most noticeable in middle class and blue collar areas, but I'll get it around campus now and then, too.

n.n said...

Baby is politically incongruent. Too much social baggage.

PM said...

Out West, we use dear - as in 'Thank you, dear'. Softer than hon; less personal than sweetie. 'course I'm just speaking for everyone west of the divide.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

oh FFS!! Even my dominatrix lets me call her 'sweetie' !

DavidD said...

Re:
"It wasn't; it was just written differently according to its position in the word. The f-like s (like an f without the crossbar) was a tall variant used at the start or in the middle of a word, which the modern s was used at the end or after a tall s."

The German ß is a long s followed by a z; without the ß it’s written as “ss”—straße or strasse.

DavidD said...

...it’s pronounced “es-zed”.

virgil xenophon said...

Rick Turley @10:32AM/

Bless your little pea-pickin' heart.

FIFY :)

Temujin said...

Honey Pie. The Beatles

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...


Hans Fiene
‏ @HansFiene
9h9 hours ago

All of this is a gentle reminder that:
1. Leftists only value free speech as a tool, not as a concept. Once they've used the free speech tool to assume positions of power, they will burn it lest anyone else use it to take that position away from them.
14 replies 292 retweets 730 likes

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

this-is-dead-on-lutheran-pastors-little-rant-about-twitters-speech-police-is-a-definite-must-read%2FHiccup

Tom said...

I've never called a women or a girl, sweetie. I've lived in the south and been called sweetie and sugar more times than I can count. I didn't know I should have been offended.

walter said...

"Sweetie" is one of Inga's wrappings of condescension.

Meade said...

Walter “Sweetness “ Payton

Yancey Ward said...

Yeah, but if you called him "Sweetie", he would stiff arm you in the adam's apple.

Etienne said...

honey lamb - Oklahoma