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Putting pets and hens in context

SO THE good people of Yorkshire are under strict instructions to keep their quaint regional affectations to themselves.

"Love" and "mate" are prohibited for the duration of the Tour de France while it winds its way through the dales.

Yorkshire tourist board has denied reports of frog-marching residents to elocution lessons but says that the use of "love" or "darling" could potentially cause offence and should therefore be avoided. What rot.

I think context is everything. Referring to someone as "pet" is a definite no-no in a board meeting but, during a passing encounter with a kindly stranger or casual acquaintance in the supermarket queue, it is fairly innocuous.

I much prefer that to the old salesman's trick of punctuating every sentence with a person's first name.

It's a toe-curling trait I picked up while working in a call centre during my student days and sometimes find myself slipping back into. We were forced to use a caller's name at least three times in any given call or face reprimand.

Three name checks in a 30 second call to check a balance always came across as overkill.

When the caller was Mr Tickle (yes, really), or worse, it sounded positively facetious.

No, I enjoy discovering the local term of endearment when visiting a new place. As a child, being sent for summer sabbaticals with my grandmother in Falkirk was an eye-opener. My most pressing observation: "Why was everyone called Hen?"

A move to Manchester exposed us to the confusing yet hilarious, "duck". From there, we relocated to Fife, a place blessed with an accent which has been described (not by me: don't write in) as akin to the sound of "a cockerel being throttled".

It took me several years of living there to realise that the ubiquitous Ken was not, in fact, a person.

In Glasgow, everyone was your "pal" and Edinburgh was full of insecure types seeking agreement, ay?

One wonders how the visitors to this summer's Commonwealth Games will take to the local patter.

Perhaps we should print some handy translations on the back of train tickets.

Ho: Excuse me.

How?: Why is that the case?

Gonnae no: Please refrain from doing that.

Gie's a shot?: Could I possibly have a try? (Not to be confused with inoculations or a firearms reference.)

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