This iconic Australian word is under threat
Australians must stand up and fight "Mate"
No other English-speaking country has a word so useful and flexible for referring to ones fellow humans. Certainly the United States doesn’t have an equivalent all-purpose word.
In American in almost any business interaction it would be more formal, such as “sir” or “ma’am”. It would be “Mr Smith”, seldom “Jim”.
My objection is about a ridiculous directive issued to health workers on the New South Wales north coast that they cannot call colleagues or patients “mate”or darling, sweetheart and honey.
Now darling, sweetheart and honey are words that don't raise my heart rate when threatening to ban them, but banning "mate"..Come on "Maaaaate"
Mate is a great word, it can be used in many ways.
It’s useful, for a start, for people like me who are bad with names.
In this country, just about anyone can call anyone else mate, regardless of social status.
Watch the prime minister out on the hustings, greeting the public with an extended hand and a sunny “gedday mate”, and getting the same in return.
You wouldn’t see that in America. An English friend tells me you wouldn’t see it in Britain either, where the term still has class connotations. Such a toff would sound pretty silly even if he referred to a working man as mate.
In this country mate is most commonly a term of endearment, mainly among men, but now often used by men to women and between women, which is great "mate'.
It can signify aggression, as in “You want a go, mate?”
It can be used to emphasise, as in “Mate, is it hot or what?”
Or it can simply say “Maaaaate!”which gives another meaning.
What is this dumb idea to forbid health workers from calling their patients or even their co-workers “mate”.
The directive says there is a need for professional language within the workplace at all times. There are a number of terms which are not to be used, including “darling”, “sweetheart” and “honey”, as well as "mate".
“The use of this language within the workplace at any time is not appropriate and may be perceived as disrespectful, dis-empowering and non-professional,” it said.
“This type of language should not be used across any level of the organisation such as employee to employee or employee to client.”
This is like my other favourite Australianism, “no worries”which can be followed by "mate" if required.
To me it signals empathy in a ready-to-oblige, egalitarian, no-fuss sort of way.
Some bloody bureaucrat who will never be my "mate" has gone mad, now he wants to ban it? This is unAustralian.
I mean, maaate! Lets be "fair dinkum"