Sir and Ma'am

Discussion in 'Korean Culture and History' started by Rough Rider, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    No, as I said before, it's about learning what courtesy is in the new context. In some schools this follows from an attempt to keep some semblance of the rules of courtesy found originally in the art (mind you, that's usually an attempt to maintain what would now be outdated norms even in the country of origin). People coming in don't know that context, so they have to learn something new. This practice is something that helps develop the skill of discipline. It also helps people be more mindful of their context (we behave differently in the training hall than we would in the street) which can be another useful skill.

    I never said anything about anyone being reprimanded. In the dojo's I trained in, there would either be a reminder (often from a senior student, sometimes from the instructor) or simply a bit of silence to give the student a moment to realize they'd left off the "sir" or "sensei" that is the norm. It's a bit uncomfortable for a new student (as is any new situation and new set of norms), but people tend to adapt to it within 2 or 3 classes.

    And I understand the cultural difference that exists. I think the "sir" may be easier for folks to adopt here in the Southern US than in the Northeastern US, because many here were raised saying it, anyway. It simply doesn't have the connotation it carries in the UK. There, trying to use that same approach would possibly be counter-productive, because of the cultural context.
     
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  2. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    It was in the post I answered to first, which is what set this line of conversation off.
     
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  3. SahBumNimRush

    SahBumNimRush Master of Arts

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    I was always taught that the respect is for the rank and the time, effort, discipline and knowledge that it took to earn such rank. You HAVE to respect the rank, if the person represents themselves properly, they will earn your respect. There are many black belts I know, both within my association and outside that I do not personally respect. However, I will always use honorifics (sir/ma'am) when addressing them, because of what the rank represents to me.

    I don't see it as an ego thing, because of how it was taught to me as a white belt. Now that I have my own school, I do my best to stress it in that manner. I could care less if they call ME sir, but our class etiquette is to address senior rank (and for the same reason, senior age) by honorific. I don't think I'm a drill sargent about it, but there are consequences to breaking the code of conduct of the dojang (verbal reminders/warnings, push ups for repeat offenders and such).

    Ego is something that the martial arts can easily feed if not fostered in the appropriate manner. So IMHO, it needs to be stated clearly WHY these terms are used.

    On the other extreme, I have witnessed some seniors overzealously use honorifics as insult.
     
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  4. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Why not "[name of the form you're doing, because surely you practice more than one...] Sabumnim?"
     
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  5. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    I don't know if you get this sometimes in TKD but especially in karate kata competitions the person shouts out deafeningly the name of the kata they are about to do in imitation of a native Japanese speaker. However the sound of the Japanese name said in a broad Yorkshire accent at the top of their voice is not a pleasing one!
    I do think that if people cannot pronounce the Japanese properly ( in TKD's case obviously Korean) it would be better to just use the normal language spoken. Often the incorrect pronunciations are passed from instructor to student and onwards so in the end it's sounding like nothing a Japanese person would recognise. I saw a visiting Japanese instructor at a seminar once who used the correct commands and a few people couldn't understood them, it was embarrassing.
     
  6. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    In the U.S. military we don't salute the person; we salute the 'rank'. Non coms salute all Officer Ranks. The lower level Officer salutes the rank of a higher Officer.
     
  7. Rough Rider

    Rough Rider Green Belt

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    If he says "what's your form?" it's implied that he means your latest form. If he wants to see something else, he will state the name of the form and I repeat it back:

    Grand Master- "Big Mike, come forward"
    Me- "Yes, sir!" I take my place
    GM- "Taegeuk Pal-Jang"
    Me- "Taegeuk Pal-Jang, sir"
    GM- "Shijak"
     
  8. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Oh my. :)
     
  9. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I also don't really care if they call me "sir" or not. In fact, I considered doing away with it when I was outlining Shojin-ryu, but my wife talked me into keeping with the tradition of the art. I go back to my primary instructor's dojo occasionally, and his senior student (who was a purple belt or brown belt when I left) calls me "sir" - I keep telling him not to do that there, because as far as I'm concerned he outranks me in that school now.
     
  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    This is an issue with maintaining the original language for techniques and such. I try to glean correct pronunciations from folks who actually know Japanese whenever I can.

    Your anecdote reminds me of my German. My great-grandfather was German, and it was his first language. My father told me that my grandfather spoke it fluently but with an accent. He also said he and my uncle spoke it well enough growing up to talk to each other, but it wasn't at all pure. I know a few phrases - those things you'd say to a child ("hush", "close that window", etc.). I was relating that to a student who is German, and he couldn't understand the phrases, at all, until I told him what they were. Now I know how some of them are supposed to sound.

    I think the same thing happens with successive generations of people studying an art with foreign words.
     
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  11. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Master of Arts

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    There's a lot to be said for learning language from native speakers but it's not the only way and can encourage regional bad habits.

    Add in that people from different regions in South Korea have trouble understanding each other's accent and dialect, and the likelihood of a strange pronunciation is quite high.

    Another factor is that most casual learners of TKD cannot read Korean, and do not understand what sounds are represented by the romanisations.

    사범님 is romanised as Sabeomnim, with 'eo' representing the 'o' sound from 'Dog' rather than 'Over' and rather than the 'u' from 'up'. 'Sabumnim' is a mispronunciation based on a misromanisation.

    Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
     
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  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    A regional mispronunciation is an accurate pronunciation for that region, so at least it's right somewhere. My German isn't right anywhere.:confused:
     
  13. paitingman

    paitingman Blue Belt

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    "i think i know" is a weird translation.
    it's just a pretty formal way to say "I understand"

    Though I agree it's helpful for western speakers to think of those sounds as m's.
    The consonant sound is a bit different, but I find it beneficial to try hammer in the actual consonant sounds and spellings. different conjugations and suffixes will make much more sense later on if they want to learn more korean.
     
  14. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Most of the form names do not translate very well. Keumgang, is the name of a mountain tied to a Korean mythological figure (think a Korean Arthur and you'll be close), it also means "diamond" and "hardness" and "immovability" so I think calling it Keumgang is better. Yes, it'll be mispronounced sometimes, but I've not found this to be a major problem. Most people can be taught to pronounce it well enough to be understood.
    And let's be honest... the Yorkshire accent is difficult to understand even when they're speaking English...
     
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  15. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Just as a thing on pronunciations, ma'am Pronunciation in English. :D
    The other thing is women are addressed as 'Madam' or 'Miss' when being polite, only the Queen and serving military officers are 'ma'am'.

    All our regional accents are difficult to understand lol.
     
  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I grew up in an area where "ma'am" has an entirely different pronunciation. Imagine it spelled "mayam" (may-yum). Yes, it really is that bad sometimes.
     
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  17. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master Black Belt

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    Huh, in the US, young girls are "miss". If you called an adult woman "miss" it will most probably come across as patronizing/condescending. Adult women are "ma'am", and I don't think anybody would be addressed as "madam" unless it was part of a title (say, "Madame President" ;) ) or someone was trying to sound French.
     
  18. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    The last full time dojo I ran consisted mostly of city kids, and there were a lot of them, somewhat rough around the edges. They lives were surrounded with influences and people who were not always the best folks to be around. Manners were not always big in their lives.

    They addressed everyone as sir or ma'am when they trained with us. Just as we always had. Some might call that controlling, I could care less, they were taught to be ladies and gentlemen, whether they wanted to or not. It would be nice if those qualities were instilled in their homes, but that was not always the case. And since the fighting was serious (and harsh to some) the art of being a gentleman or lady was most important.

    I've been told by those students that what they learned about manners has served them well since then. Both in court (no, not that way, they're lawyers now) in business, in school, in relationships and in their everyday lives. Their children, (and grandchildren is some cases) address people as sir or ma'am to this day still. Because it's what was taught in their homes by their folks. (I guess the training stuck)

    And it was never a big deal. It was just another thing you did in the dojo, probably the easiest things you did in the dojo. It became habit. I'm quite proud that it did.
     
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  19. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Well yes young girls are 'miss' and you call older women 'madam'. Here, you will be called 'madam' in shops, restaurants, hotels, by police officers etc.

    Here teaching manners wouldn't involve teaching them to say sir and ma'am as much as being able to speak politely and minding your Ps and Qs. I quite agree with the importance of manners but cultural differences being what they are, our manners wouldn't necessarily involve the same wording or customs even. As I said before here it's a class thing, students here such as you describe would not call people 'sir' in the way your students would, it would be seen as crawling to the 'toffs', you might as well expect them to tug their forelock, very much resented. I'm not sure if I can find an analogy to explain it properly, perhaps the fact that some Americans get upset at being called 'boy' because of the connotations that has along with 'boss' with is a common word here and one of respect?
    In the north of England it's common to call you mother 'mam' ( usually 'our mam') rather than the common here mum so that's another reason not to use ma'am, causes confusion. :)
     
  20. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Yes, customs are so different. "Toffs" that would be like the Landed Gentry?

    Some Americans would be upset at being called "boy", yes, especially Americans of color. That would be racially insulting.
    As for "boss" usually a symbol of respect, at least in my experience. As would be "Big Dog" (popular where I grew up.)

    Whatever manners are appropriate where one lives....I think everyone should have them. Especially kids. Especially Martial Artists.
     
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