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Forms of Address | 称呼的方式

My name is Yuan. As a student in Taiwan for the first ten years of my school life, I learned torespect teachers. I was taught that it is not respectful to call teachers by their name, that they should always be addressed by the title “Teacher”.

Seven years ago, when I moved to the United States, I entered an ESL class in a local high school. The students kept calling the teacher “Miss White”. I felt that they were beingdisrespectful , but because of my problems with English, I couldn’t ask them about it.

Time passed. I found that often when I asked questions, Miss White seemed annoyed and said something, but I was not able to understand what she said. I wondered if I had done something that was not respectful or if somehow I hadn’t been a good student. Finally, one day when I raised my hand and said, “Excuse me, Teacher...,” Miss White interrupted me before I could finish my question. With a not-so-happy face, she said, “Teacher is my title at work. Teacher is not my name. My name is Miss White.”

Now I was completely confused. Why would she want me to call her by her name? Why would she get so upset when I was trying to be respectful? I wanted to ask her the reason but my English was still not good enough.

I was angry and sad for a few days, until my uncle returned from Taiwan. I asked him, “Why do people get upset simply because I am trying to respect them?” He asked me to tell him the whole story. I told him what happened in school. He told me that what was right back in Taiwan was not necessarily proper here in the United States. He also told me that I should not be sad and that I should try to understand what is done here and avoid making the same mistakes.

After the incident, when I’m not sure what to do, I observe other people and do things the way they do them. Even though this sometimes makes me feel that I am not being myself, it helps me avoid a lot of cultural difficulties. Of course, now I am also able to ask people questions. As I learn more, life here becomes much more interesting and enjoyable.

 

 

 

我的名字叫园。因为在中国台湾读了十年书,所以学会了尊敬师长。我知道称呼老师的名字是不礼貌的,应该称他们为“老师”。

七年前,我来到美国,在当地一间中学上英语课。同学们都称我们的老师为“怀特小姐”。我觉得他们对老师太不尊重了。但因为自己的英文不好,所以没办法问他们。

时间一天天过去了。我发现每当自己问问题的时候,怀特小姐看上去都不太高兴的样子,还说了些什么,但我听不懂。我就想是不是自己做了什么不够尊重她的事,或者自己学习不够努力。最后,有一天我举手说:“对不起,老师……,”还没等我说完,怀特小姐就打断了我的话,她的脸色有些难看,说:“老师是我工作的头衔,老师不是我的名字,我的名字是怀特小姐!”

这下子我彻底糊涂了。为什么她要我称呼她的名字呢?我在对她表示尊重,可她为什么不高兴呢?我想问问原因,但自己的英语还不够好。

好几天里我既生气又难过,这时叔叔从台湾回来了。我便问他:“为什么因为我想对别人表示尊敬,他们就不高兴呢?”他让我把事情的经过讲给他听。我把在学校的经历说了一遍。他告诉我,在台湾正确的东西现在到了美国就不一定还是正确的了。他还让我不必难过,而应该试着去了解这里人们的行为方式,从而避免再犯同样的错误。

经过这件事后,我再碰到什么自己拿不准的事,就注意观察别人是怎么做的。尽管有时候这样做让我感觉有些失去了自我,但毕竟能帮我避免很多文化上的冲突。当然了,我现在还可以直接开口向别人请教。学到的东西越多,在这儿的生活也就变得更加充满乐趣。

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