Thursday, March 8, 2007
Mateship and Rapport
"Mate" is a non specific greeting used between Australians. Of both genders in certain regions. It is usually of a positive connotation.
As with much Australian vernacular, subtleties of inflection and context can produce a great variety of meanings.
"Maaaaaaaaaaaate", as a drawn out drawl, accompanied usually by a half-smile and a knuckle-crunching handshake, is the traditional greeting of the Australian male in the wild.
"G'day, mate!" is often used as a general, friendly greeting to an unknown person, especially of the male persuasion. The equivalent of "Good afternoon, sir", "Bonjour, monsieur".
"Mate" can also be used in a derogatory context just as easily and this is what led Dr Dork to consider the topic today.
Whilst sauntering down the street in the vague direction of his morning bus, Dr Dork was nearly cleaned up by a cyclist who barrelled past without warning. A near collision...and partially Dr Dorks fault, as he tends to meander along a circuitous path, especially when his mind is 90% elsewhere...as it often is. The words that leapt to Dr Dorks lips, albeit unspoken: "Use your *(edited)* bell, mate!".
Dr Dork sometimes refers to his male patients as "mate".
On his new patient registration forms the only option available is Mr for males.
Being of a certain age, Dr Dork still refers to new older male patients as "sir", unless or until they clearly indicate a preference otherwise. Younger males are usually "mate" or addressed by first name.
This seems to assist in rapport building with younger males, in particular. It is a gesture of camaraderie, of casual "blokiness" that makes the staid old Dr Dork seem less intimidating to a young 'un, perhaps.
Females may select Ms, Miss or Mrs, and are addressed according to their preference. No grey areas.
On the whole, Dr Dork finds it often takes longer to develop rapport with female patients. He is a dork, and thus the instinctive female repugnance to Homo Dorkus Sapiens (and his negative evolutionary corollaries) must be gradually overcome.
The greater flexibility he has in addressing his male patients seems to further facilitate rapport. More scope to tailor to the individual, less possibility of inadvertent offence.
Dr Dork works only in adult medicine. Kiddie rapport is a whole other kettle of fish. Ask Dr Flea.
Children are evil, and should stay off the lawn, anyway.
Posted by Dr Dork