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My right to be called by my name, not ‘mate’

Credit:Illustration: Badiucao

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My right to be called by my name, not ‘mate’

I read Carolyn Webb’s article on the use of the word “mate” (Comment, 13/1) with interest as it was very timely. I visited a doctor, new to me, a couple of weeks ago. She greeted me warmly and introduced herself to me using her first name. I did the same – introducing myself by my first name. From that point on, for the entire consultation, she called me “mate”. This made me feel unhinged – albeit ever so slightly – without knowing why.

However, when I considered it afterwards, I reflected that I would have felt less unhinged if she had come to the consultation in her pyjamas. At the follow-up appointment, as soon as she called me “mate”, I asked her to call me by my first name. She was clearly taken aback and said, “I call everyone “mate‴⁣⁣. I responded with “no one calls me mate”.
Name withheld, Rippleside

An affectionate, enduring part of our culture

Carolyn Webb, to me – an elderly, fourth-generation Australian – “mate” is a standard idiom of Australian culture. Similar to the “check-out chick” who serves me at the local supermarket and says, “there you go, love”.
Ross Barker, Lakes Entrance

Call me what you will – as long as it’s not ’madam’

It happened and I was totally unprepared for it: when cafe/retail assistants suddenly called me “madam”. Ever since, I have detested the honorific. Carolyn Webb’s musings on being called “mate” generated amusing responses from correspondents (Letters, 14/1) – and I wanted to read more. Call me “mate” any day, but please don’t call me “madam”.
Sally Davis, Malvern East

There is no need to be a “dinky di Strayan’

Carolyn Webb finds herself uncomfortable saying “mate”. That is fine. It is not mandatory to be like “dinky di Strayans” as she identifies a diverse section of society who comfortably use the vernacular. There is a wide cultural milieu who naturally and easily find the lexicon has meaning and many are university-educated.

Webb does not have to parody “maaaate” and wrestle with her self image being ordinary or crass if she uses the term. And she should avoid Kevin Rudd’s attempt at the vernacular when he said, “fair shake of the sauce bottle”. He had that wrong and “dropped a clanger” (which, by the way, is from British slang).
Des Files, Brunswick

Why ‘youse’ should be acceptable in English

Carolyn Webb jokingly used the word “youse”. But it should be in the language. Many languages have a second person singular and plural (youse). Thou used to be the singular, you the plural.
Michael Helman, St Kilda East

Please keep it official in official correspondence

Your correspondent says “what bugs me is going into a cafe with my wife and being greeted with “can I help you guys” when it’s obvious my wife is a sheila, not a guy” (Letters, 14/1). I cannot abide emails from official organisations which commence “Hi Reginald”. They are probably written by people half my age and they should begin: “Dear Mr Murray”.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

The dreaded ‘d’ is appearing in our written language

Your correspondents bemoan the rendition of the letter “t” as “d” in oral Australian-English. I have noticed an alarming sign that the aggressive “d” is encroaching upon our written language too; recently I drove past a large billboard that spruiked a “charidy” function.
Arthur Roberts, Elwood

The mispronunciation of so many common words

I can live with “impordant” and “Keading”, but find the use of “hurry cane” and “ceremoany” repulsive. I am also old enough to recall the question: “How many ears does Davy Crockett have?” Answer: “Three. His left ear, his right ear and his “wild front ear”.
Juliet Flesch, Kew


The founder’s teachings

So it seems George Pell was not a fan of “radical inclusivity”. A curious position for a senior cleric of a church whose founder made a point of reaching out to the most marginalised people in his society: lepers, prostitutes, foreigners and the down at heel. He even respected women. How very woke.

One wonders what Pell’s thoughts would be on Jesus’ other “woke” teachings on radical humility, radical generosity and radical love, care and compassion for our fellow human beings. Perhaps Pell will now have the opportunity to discuss that with Him, if he gets time off from his new job in the celestial accounting department downstairs.
Vitas Anderson, East Melbourne

Love, not progressivism

George Pell’s death has reanimated the discussion about his “conservative” stance on hot-button social issues and, predictably, fired up those who are critical of the “folly” of the Catholic Church in not embracing the great idol of progressivism.

The beauty of Christ’s teachings is that they are based on the concept of love, not progressivism. A true understanding of how to follow Christ and uphold his teaching for the good of humanity as a whole makes demands on those who truly want to live such a life, including unconditional love and forgiveness, honesty and discernment. And prayer.

It is not easy to live a truly Christian life. It is much easier and personally satisfying to be “progressive”. Pell, although a flawed human being as we all are, understood and lived a life as thoroughly immersed in Christ’s teachings as he possibly could.
Jan White, Donvale

Betraying the Pope

Some journalists claim George Pell served “the church” rather than the people. The church, however, consists of “the people of God” as was clearly outlined by Vatican II. It was not established by its founder to be a male, hierarchical, money-making institution decreeing at times, outmoded canon law, which excluded many sections of the community.

The founder taught that a new commandment “love one another” superseded and included all previous commandments in the Old Testament and was clear about what should happen to people who harmed children.

Pell appeared very happy to welcome the Pope’s compassion in returning him to Rome, but then self-righteously and anonymously criticised Pope Francis (The Age, 14/1) for showing the same compassion to others. The Pope seems to have grasped his founder’s teachings and endeavoured to follow them.
Sheila Mansfield Highton

Duplicity and hypocrisy

Of all the many, many words written about George Pell, what amazed me most was learning that he had written an article severely criticising Pope Francis and yet did not have the guts to put his name as the author. For a man who was always so confrontational and whose speech often portrayed little compassion for others, this act alone will damn him in the minds of many people as an example of duplicity and hypocrisy.
Marie Rogers, Kew

Crime of killing in war

Gwynne Dyer writes, “in almost every other walk of life, killing someone is the ultimate crime; in war it is the soldier’s duty” (Comment, 14/1). This may have been true in the past when hand-to-hand fighting took place on battlefields with opposing armies facing each other. However, the introduction of long-range artillery has changed how wars are fought. Human Rights Watch has pointed out that Russian forces have carried out disproportionate and indiscriminate bombing and shelling of civilian areas in Ukraine. Killing in a war can indeed be a crime.
Peter Williams, Alphington

Shooting season’s risks

With another duck and quail shooting season about to be announced, I am yet to see evidence of any safety-risk assessment having been performed by the Game Management Authority to assess the risks of discharging firearms in public spaces and adjacent to private properties. As a business owner, if I were this negligent I could be heavily penalised.
Liz Filmer, Sale

What makes a heatwave

Your correspondent is wrong about the current meaning of a “heatwave” (Letters, 15/1). This is defined by the Bureau of Meteorology as “three or more days where maximum and minimum temperatures are unusually high for a location”. Accordingly, no heatwave warnings have been issued for the city, but only for areas in the state where this criterion has been met.
Geoff Feren, former BOM forecaster, St Kilda

Joy and worth of reading

Re “The last word” (Comment, 14/1). As an English teacher, I have used wide-reading time as a protected space to foster a love of reading without distraction. A straw poll of students, asking how many of them were read to as a young child, elicits a high positive response; similarly, the question of whether their parents think it is important that they read now. However, when asked how many parents read in front of their children, the raised hands drop.

As parents and teachers, we need to model the act of reading and share our literary diets. A little bit of the Jack Reacher (by Lee Child) fairy-floss reading can be the guilty indulgence but if the diet is only junk, we end up stunted.

I have seen the highs of reading – when the final Harry Potter book came out, with students dotted around the playground hungrily devouring a few more pages before the bell for class. The opposite – a decline in reading, creativity and ideas is rather more Orwellian. Not “doubleplusgood” by any means.
Clive Parkin, Moonee Ponds

Undemocratic tournament

As a long-time tennis fan, I scanned the availability of tickets for the Australian Open’s final. The only available ones, with restricted viewing as a bonus, are priced at $1299. I find this absolutely scandalous. Clearly the final is only for the wealthy elite.

Last year I visited the Wimbledon Museum in London. The curator informed me that Australian Open prices for major finals are far higher than those for Wimbledon, the tournament I had always believed was the most inaccessible to the average person.

I am sorry, Craig Tiley and tournament organisers, but relatively cheap ground passes will not get dedicated fans into the games that matter.
Chris Ryan, Ripponlea

Let’s boycott COP28

“Unease” in response to the appointment of an oil magnate as the president of COP 28 (The Age, 14/1) is a gross understatement. How about “despair”?

Last year’s COP 27, whose biggest delegation was 630 fossil-fuel lobbyists, produced more “blah blah blah” than substance. But when the United Arab Emirates was made the host of COP 28, the COP process surely reached a nadir.

The appointment by the UAE of Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and proponent of extensive increases in fossil fuel investment and extraction, was as inevitable as it is catastrophic. Australia, which claims to now take the worsening climate crisis seriously, can and should lead the world in boycotting COP 28.
Richard Barnes, Canterbury

The true devastation

We are just back from a dream camping trip across this vast and beautiful nation. Highlights were the ever-changing hues of the Nullarbor, the windswept grandeur of the Great Australian Bight, and the quirkiness of many country towns. Lowlights were the increasing signs of deforestation since our last trek some years ago: more denuded agricultural land and clear evidence of the continued logging of native forests.

The number and size of the salt pans we saw has also significantly increased. We know the science of how trees keep the water table down through transpiration; we also know how baked soils and agricultural chemicals contribute to salinity in shallow water tables. However, knowing intellectually and actually experiencing a phenomenon are two separate things. We reap what we sow, though in this case we reap what we cut down.
Carmel McNaught, Balwyn North

The lack of diversity

Re “They’ll pick the white guy”: Usman Khawaja on race and smashing cricket’s inner sanctum” (The Age, 14/1). I hope Cricket Australia is listening to Khawaja’s sage comments on the lack of diversity in Australian cricket and also taking seriously our abject failure to reach out to, embrace and welcome those of ethnic backgrounds into our traditional, white Australian-populated game.
Brian Marshall, Ashburton

Torn between two teams

I enjoyed your article about Usman Khawaja. However, Dav Whatmore was the first Australian Test cricketer who was born in South Asia – Sri Lanka to be specific. It was a proud moment for us Sri Lankans in Australia at the time. In fact, he was the first Sri Lankan Test cricketer as Sri Lanka was yet to have Test status.

As someone who was born in Sri Lanka and been in Australia since 1971, I have always supported Australia but retain a soft spot for the Sri Lankan cricket team and am torn in my loyalties when they play Australia.
Dave de Kretser, Arthurs Seat

The long-term racism

Journalist Osman Faruqi might like to look closely at why Indigenous cricketer Eddie Gilbert was never selected for the Australian team. It seems that racism has always been a feature of Australian men’s cricket.
Elizabeth Morris, Kennington

Such hurtful brevity

How sad when people who are close to you use “love” or “like” in response to texts received on their mobile phones. Those words are simply attached to your original texts, as if to say “I can’t be bothered replying properly”.
Martin Hengeveld, Research



Re the funeral: Obviously hypocrisy is not a cardinal sin.
Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale

I don’t think Jesus will want him as a sunbeam.
Elizabeth Chipman, Seaford

Many claim Pell was a great Australian. If there’s a soccer match in heaven between the Vatican and Australia, I know who he’ll be playing for.
Ron Slamowicz, Caulfield North

Re “the poor man” (13/1). There was nothing “poor” about the life Pell lived, in luxury, at the Vatican while his abused flock suffered.
Bryan Lewis, St Helena

It’s time to cut back coverage on Pell. We’re distracted from important developments in the saga of Harry and Meghan.
Ken Richards, Elwood


Albanese has found the Goldilocks zone in developing climate laws and hasn’t been governed by fear of the returning bears (15/1).
Joan Segrave, Healesville

Did Perrottet seek Kate and Willy’s approval before donning the Nazi costume at his 21st?
Patsy Sanaghan, North Geelong

Re Perrottet’s Nazi uniform scandal: why is such abhorrent regalia allowed to be sold or hired? State governments, please act.
Thomas Hogg, East Melbourne

I would like a meeting with Anthony Albanese too, but I don’t have a helicopter.
Carolyn Lunt, Northcote


Why is The Age so consumed with residential property values? Almost to the point of obsession.
Tony Adami, Caulfield South

Yes, the letter “t” has officially left the vocabulary. ″⁣Pardee″⁣ and ″⁣wardah″⁣ are the new norm and so grating.
Susie Holt, South Yarra

Harry and Meghan Kardashian.
Trevor Hanna, St Kilda East

Re “Jan’s parting gift” (13/1). Thanks, Waleed Aly.
Ian Jones, Barwon Heads

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