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Lesson Transcript

Jonathan: Hi everyone! Jonathan here.
Dede: And I’m Dede! Greeting Your American Boss.
Jonathan: In this lesson, you'll learn how to address someone formally, from a conversation in a government office.
Dede: The conversation takes place between Sheila and her new boss, Mark. Sheila just showed up for her first day at work on her internship.
Jonathan: Since Mark is Sheila’s boss and they don’t know each other yet, the language starts off very formally.
Dede: Alright- let’s listen to the conversation!
SHEILA: Good morning, are you Mr. Cantor? I was told to report here, I have an internship with this office starting today.
MARK: Ah yes. You must be...
SHEILA: Sheila Jones, sir.
MARK: Right, I remember speaking on the phone with you. Let's see... We have a cubicle for you right over there. Why don't you get settled in?
SHEILA: Thank you Mr. Cantor.
MARK: Oh, by the way, Mr. Cantor is my father, we’re on a first-name basis here so you can call me Mark.
SHEILA: Of course, sir.
MARK: And you can drop the "sir" too, unless you want me to start calling you "Ma'am".
SHEILA: Of course not sir... er... Mark.
MARK: That's better now.
Dede: It seems strange that after just two minutes, Sheila’s boss asked her to use his first name…
Jonathan: The American workplace can actually be quite casual. Many, perhaps even most, bosses and employees interact with each other in an informal manner and on a first-name basis.
Dede: Hmm, so for my next job in the United States, should I just start calling my boss by his or her first name?
Jonathan: I wouldn’t recommend that. It's always better to speak too formally rather than too informally. Especially during introductions, you can leave a positive impression by using “Mr.”, “Ms.”, or “Dr.” when speaking with your boss, a client, or even a co-worker.
Dede: What about “sir” and “ma’am”?
Jonathan: Using “sir” or “ma’am” elevates the other person’s status. It’s not used as much these days in an office, but if you are dealing with clients or customers or talking with strangers, it is appropriate to address them as “sir” or “ma’am”. Like I said, it’s always OK to be too formal. Alright, are you ready for vocab?
Dede: Yes sir!
Dede: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
The first word we shall see is:
Jonathan: to report [natural native speed]
Dede: to show up, to come to
Jonathan: to report [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: to report [natural native speed]
Next is:
Jonathan: cubicle [natural native speed]
Dede: an office made by low dividing walls
Jonathan: cubicle [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: cubicle [natural native speed]
Next we have:
Jonathan: to settle in [natural native speed]
Dede: to put your things down, organize your belongings, get used to the place
Jonathan: to settle in [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: to settle in [natural native speed]
Next is:
Jonathan: sir [natural native speed]
Dede: polite way to address a man
Jonathan: sir [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: sir [natural native speed]
Next we have:
Jonathan: ma'am [natural native speed]
Dede: polite way to address a woman
Jonathan: ma'am [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: ma'am [natural native speed]
Next is:
Jonathan: by the way [natural native speed]
Dede: also (used when talking about related items)
Jonathan: by the way [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: by the way [natural native speed]
Next we have:
Jonathan: first-name basis [natural native speed]
Dede: the state of using first names rather than formal titles and last names
Jonathan: first-name basis [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: first-name basis [natural native speed]
Next is:
Jonathan: to drop [natural native speed]
Dede: to stop using
Jonathan: to drop [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: to drop [natural native speed]
Jonathan: Let's have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson. The first one is…
Dede: Mark says “Oh, by the way…” As we learned in the vocab section, “by the way” means “also” or “on a related matter”.
Jonathan: So when we add “Oh”, we can use this as a transition between ideas when we are talking about a related topic.
Dede: OK! I understand…
Jonathan: Great! Oh, by the way, what’s the next phrase?
Dede: (laughs) Mark says “Mr. Cantor is my father, you can call me Mark, we’re on a first name basis here.” Why is Mark talking about his family?
Jonathan: When Mark says “Mr. Cantor is my father” it is a very friendly and humorous way for him to say that it is alright to talk on a first-name basis. The implication is that it makes him feel old to be called “Mr.” and that he would prefer to be called by his first name.
Dede: I see. And could I do the same thing if someone called me Ms. Dede?
Jonathan: Sure, just substitute mother for father! Good job, Ms. Dede.
Dede: Please, call me Dede, Ms. Dede is my mother. Are you ready to move on Mr. Jonathan?

Lesson focus

Dede: The focus of this lesson is addressing people formally when meeting them.
Jonathan: Right, Sheila said “Thank you, Mr. Cantor.”
Dede: You probably already know that “Mr.” is a formal and polite way to refer to a man.
Jonathan: We also heard some good examples of other formal titles later, like when I called you Ms. Dede and you called me Mr. Jonathan. Mr. for men and Ms. for women are the most commonly used titles in formal situations. They are always acceptable and you can use them without worrying about ever offending someone.
Dede: But they aren’t the only ones you will encounter. Let’s start with…
Jonathan: Dr.
Dede: We can address someone as Dr. even if he is not a medical doctor. We use this when they have graduated from a PhD or other Doctorate program.
Jonathan: Exactly. Take Mr. Albert Einstein.
Dede: Uhm, I believe you are referring to Dr. Albert Einstein
Jonathan: Right! “Dr.” is a good title that can be used for either women or men, it doesn’t matter.
Dede: There are a few other titles we can use, but they are more specific. Like...
Jonathan: Mrs. And Miss.
Dede: Let’s listen to that again.
Jonathan: Mrs… and… Miss.
Dede: They sound similar but are very different in their meaning.
Jonathan: Mrs. is always used for a married woman. Take Michelle Obama, the wife of US President Barack Obama. It’s appropriate to address her as Mrs. Michelle Obama or Mrs. Obama. In some cases we can even say “Mrs. Barack Obama” meaning the wife of Barack Obama, but this usage is getting less popular with time.
Dede: Right, but what about “Miss”?
Jonathan: “Miss” is used only for unmarried women. Before Michelle Obama was married, we could have called her Miss Michelle Robinson. Robinson was her maiden name.
Dede: You have to be careful with these terms though. While you will still hear them frequently in the United States, they are getting less popular with time as “Ms.” becomes the most accepted title for women.
Jonathan: Especially in a business setting – it doesn’t matter whether or not the person is married so it’s best to use “Ms.”
Dede: Mrs… Ms… Miss… They all sound so similar though!
Jonathan: That’s true, but you should still try and be careful!
Dede: We also heard the term “ma’am” and “sir” during the dialogue. They were defined for us during the vocab section, but how can we use them appropriately?
Jonathan: Great question. When we are talking to someone of higher status, we can use “sir” for men and “ma’am” for women. These terms are still widely used when talking with strangers but are not used in the workplace as much these days. The one exception is in the military, however, where you must address your superiors as “sir” or “ma’am”
Dede: You will mostly hear them from strangers though. Especially if they approach you in a public place, it is appropriate for them to say “Excuse me, sir” or “Excuse me, ma’am” followed by a request.
Jonathan: Excuse me, ma’am…
Dede: Uhh… yes?


Jonathan: I think we’re running out of time.
Dede: Oh, you’re right!
Jonathan: We’ll be back next lesson for more English learning fun!
Dede: See you next time!