Friday, December 20, 2013

A Few Important Details Of Speech In Conversation

Unless you wish to stamp yourself a person who has never been out of "provincial" society, never speak of your husband as "Mr." except to an inferior. Mrs. Worldly for instance in talking with a stranger would say "my husband," and to a friend, meaning one not only whom she calls by her first name, but anyone on her "dinner list," she says, "Dick thought the play amusing" or "Dick said——". This does not give her listener the privilege of calling him "Dick." The listener in return speaks of her own husband as "Tom" even if he is seventy—unless her hearer is a very young person (either man or woman), when she would say "my husband." Never "Mr. Older." To call your husband Mr. means that you consider the person you are talking to, beneath you in station. Mr. Worldly in the same way speaks of Mrs. Worldly as "my wife" to a gentleman, or "Edith" in speaking to a lady. Always.

In speaking about other people, one says "Mrs.," "Miss" or "Mr." as the case may be. It is bad form to go about saying "Edith Worldly" or "Ethel Norman" to those who do not call them Edith or Ethel, and to speak thus familiarly of one whom you do not call by her first name, is unforgivable. It is also effrontery for a younger person to call an older by her or his first name, without being asked to do so. Only a very underbred, thick-skinned person would attempt it.

Also you must not take your conversation "out of the drawing-room." Operations, ills or personal blemishes, details and appurtenances of the dressing-room, for instance, are neither suitable nor pleasant topics, nor are personal jokes in good taste.

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