“Old Sport!” or “Mac!” Let’s Look at Endearment
“Old Sport!” or “Mac!” Let’s Look at Endearment
  • 경남타임즈(경남대학교)
  • 승인 2024.06.24 15:08
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 In Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, the phrase “old sport” is employed several times. For example, after showing off his car, Gatsby says to Nick, “It’s pretty, isn’t it, old sport?” Similarly, when Holden Caulfield asks a pianist to give a singer his compliment in The Catcher in the Rye, he says, “Why don’t you go home, Mac?” What do “old sport” and “Mac” mean? According to Merriam Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary, “old sport” is “a term of endearment used to a friend,” and “Mac” is used to “speak to a man who you do not know.” These terms might seem unfamiliar and even strange because it’s not common to use such endearments in Korea. Furthermore, The Great Gatsby was published in 1925 and The Catcher in the Rye in 1951, so both words can sound a bit outdated. How about “honey” or “darling”? You are probably more familiar with these expressions. Despite the time lag, “old sport,” “Mac,” “honey,” and “darling” are terms of endearment that express affection, fondness, or warmth towards someone. In this column, I will explain the purpose and effect of conveying endearment and guide you on how to use relevant terms comfortably and naturally.

 The Purpose and Effect of Endearment and Its Usage

 Endearment is “the act of showing affection,” a way of saying "I like you" or "I care." It can be a word you call someone, like "honey" or "buddy," or something you do, like a hug or a high five. We can use endearments with people we're close to, like family, friends, or someone we love romantically. They show we feel good emotions towards that person. Therefore, you can show your intimacy and fellowship to others by using proper endearments. Specifically, endearments are a good way to express affection, create intimacy, provide comfort, and build rapport with others.


How to Use Endearing Terms in Conversation

 Terms of endearment can create a more friendly and affectionate atmosphere in your interactions. They show that you care and are approachable. It is not that difficult to use endearments in conversation. Instead of using someone's name, you can use an endearment. For example, you can say “honey,” “sweetie,” “love,” or “darling” to your romantic partner in place of his or her given name. Let’s compare the emotional connection in the following examples:

Daisy: Good morning, Tom! Did you sleep well?

Tom: Morning, Daisy! Yes, I did.

Daisy: Good morning, sweetheart! Did you sleep well?

Tom: Morning, honey! Yes, I did.

 In the second dialogue, “sweetheart” and “honey” are used to reinforce the emotional connection between Daisy and Tom.

 Among close friends, you can say “pal,” “buddy,” “bro,” or “my rock.” The following is a model conversation between Alex and Ji-won, who are close friends:

Alex: Hi buddy! What did you get up to over the weekend?

Ji-won: It was pretty good, pal. Just relaxed with the family. What about you?

Alex: Same here, buddy!

Alex and Ji-won express their sense of intimacy and closeness by using terms of endearment.

 “Mom,” “Dad,” “little sis,” and “big brother” are terms that can be used to express love and respect among family members. The following is a conversation between a mom and her child: 

Mom: Hey, sweetie, I've noticed you seem a bit discouraged lately. Is something bothering you?

Child: Yeah, Mom. School wasn't so great today.

Mom: I'm sorry to hear that, my dear. What happened?

Child: I just feel a little left out by the other kids. Mom: Oh honey, that can be tough. But you know you're amazing, right? Don't ever forget that. And no matter what, I'm always here for you.

Child: Thanks, Mom. You always know how to make me feel better

 The endearments used by the mom provide comfort, a willingness to listen, and reassurance to her child.   Using terms of endearment can strengthen relationships with friends, family, or romantic partners. It shows you care and value them and strengthens the positive feelings you have for them.


Be Cautious

 Endearments have many positive effects. However, it's important to use them properly. Here’s what to consider for using terms of endearment effectively:


1. Situation and Relationship Stage: What is the situation and how is your relationship with the person? Using "honey" or “sweetie” with a coworker might be inappropriate, while using "Mr./Ms./Dr." with a close friend might be too formal. Don't jump straight to overly familiar terms with someone who is a total stranger. Let the relationship develop naturally and choose endearments that fit the level of closeness.

2. Culture: Endearments can vary greatly from culture to culture. What's common in one place might be strange in another. Think about the different cultures between Korea and the U.S.

3. Private Preference: Not everyone likes endearments, so be conscious of their comfort level.

 Showing affection through endearments is important for connecting with others and making relationships stronger. Endearments help people feel closer and more comfortable with each other. I hope you will express proper endearment and build stronger relationships.

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