Is Calling Someone by Their Last Name Disrespectful?

Is it rude to call a person by his/her last name? You may have to decide that.

Some people see it as disrespectful to address a person by his/her last name. However, on contrary, respect is shown by addressing people by their last names in some parts of the world. One may ask what the difference is.

There are several reasons you may want to address someone by their last name. There are also several reasons for a person to be necessarily addressed by his or her last name.

In many cultures, people show respect by calling last names along with Mister, Missus, and other titles. In some cultures, randomly calling a person’s last name can be considered disrespectful.

Sometimes, people call last names with the purpose of disrespecting others.

What Does It Mean To Call Someone By Their Last Name?

Is Calling Someone by Their Last Name Disrespectful

Several meanings can be attributed to the act of addressing people by their last names. They include;

  • A show of respect.
  • Your last name is popular.
  • Your last name is funny.
  • Your first name is hard to pronounce.
  • The person is unsure of how you want to be addressed.
  • Only your last name is known
  • An intentional show of disrespect

A show of respect

You may be called by your last name as a show of respect. As mentioned earlier, this is a way to show respect in many cultures.

You may come across someone from one of these cultures and, as a show of respect, the person will address you by your last name.

In many cases, if you are being addressed by your last name as a show of respect, a title will precede. The most common titles used are Mister and Missus.

Both titles are even used to address strangers. Other titles include doctor, professor, and many more. People in high positions are often addressed with their titles and their last names as a show of respect.

Your last name is popular

You may be called by your last name because your last name is popular. If you have your last name everywhere, there is a high chance that people will like to identify you, and, when they do, they will address you by your last name.

Some people may not know any of your other names but they know your last name because it is everywhere.

Some people may know all of your names but can choose to call you by your last name because that is the name everyone knows. They can assume that you have chosen to be addressed by your last name.

In some cases, you may share a last name with a popular character. This can make some people want to call you by that name more often.

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Your last name is funny

You may be called by your last name because it sounds funny. Your funny last name won’t necessarily attract everyone and make everyone address you by it.

On the other hand, it is mostly used by bullies. It can be used to provoke you so you can stand up to them and get in a fight that they believe they can win.

If your last name is funny, some people may ignore it and some people may choose to not say it so it doesn’t sound disrespectful in public.

However, some people choose to call you by your funny last name just to tease you by making you hear what makes your last name funny.

Last names, in many cultures, can be hard to pronounce and can have weird spellings. For this reason, it is common to be teased with a funny last name.

Your first name is hard to pronounce

You may be called by your last name because your first name is difficult to pronounce. While last names can have weird spellings and pronunciations, first names can also be quite difficult to pronounce.

A surname that is difficult to pronounce can make people call it wrongly often just so they can laugh about it. The same applies to your first name.

However, some people can choose to be respectful by not calling your name wrongly. Instead of addressing you by your first name wrongly, they would rather call you by your last name. In this case, it is a way to avoid disrespecting you.

The person is unsure of how you want to be addressed

You may be called by your last name if a person does not know how you want to be addressed. It is possible that a person has to call you by your name but has no idea how to call you correctly.

In this case, you may hear the person call you both names or just your last name. Then, you may find the person calling your first name the next time.

Some people have special ways they want to be addressed. Some people have special titles that many may not know about.

Some people may want to be called by their titles and their last names. Some people may want to be called by their titles and first name.

Some people are okay with being called by any of their names. If you happen to have a special title, a person can call you by your title and your last name without knowing if you want to be addressed that way or not.

Someone from a culture where calling people’s last names is true respect may be unsure of how to address people from other cultures.

Only your last name is known

You may be called by your last name if only your last name is known. You can only be called by a name that people already know.

When a person wants your attention or needs to address you, he/she can call you by any of your names. However, the person may choose the only name which he/she remembers and it can be your last name.

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In some cases, you may realize that no one addresses you by your last name. The person may be a stranger who has only heard your last name and has called you by it.

An intentional show of disrespect

You may be called by your last name as an intentional show of disrespect. This is contrary to the first point.

In some places, people are addressed by their first names more often and, when old people and honored people are being addressed, last names are used along with titles (Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.).

A person of equal age can call your last name in a wrong pronunciation intentionally just to see your reaction.

Older people can be addressed by their last names without their titles and that would be disrespectful. People often remove titles from the last names of someone they want to disrespect.

Who Should Be Called By Their Last Names?

Who What To Call Why
Boss Your boss refers to your employer. It can be any type of job and he/she could be of any age. Your boss could be younger than you but must be respected as your employer. Title + last name While it is up to a person to decide how he or she wants to be addressed, it is only appropriate to call your boss’s last name with the right salutation. You can use Mr. unless your boss has a different title that you are aware of.
Pastor This refers to a preacher/teacher in a church. Title (Pastor) + Last name.

OR

Title (Pastor) + First Name

In a church, it is important to show respect, especially to religious leaders. This makes the salutation necessary. However, you can choose to address the pastor by first name or last name. Most pastors will not try to rebuke you for calling wrongly so it is more advisable to use the last name to show optimum respect.
Teacher This refers to a person who teaches in a school or a gathering. He or she may be a teacher to you or a teacher to others. Title (Mr., Mrs., etc.) + Last Name You should always show respect to your teacher so it is important to always use a salutation while addressing him/her. It is inadvisable to call your teacher by his or her first name so you should always address teachers by their first names.

Address the teacher the same way even if he or she is not a teacher to you.

University Lecturer This refers to a teacher in a university. Title + last name You should never address a university Lecturer by his or her first name. The only respectful way to call a university Lecturer is by the last name. You should endeavor to use the right salutation. Lecturers can have different degrees and titles which they love to be called. You can call some lecturers Doctors while some are Professors. If you don’t know which, you can ask or just use Mr. and wait for a correction.
Friends This refers to someone, usually an age mate, whom you usually hang out with. First name OR Last name It is appropriate to call your friend by his or her first name. It can sound very absurd to call your friend’s last name. However, your friends can be addressed by any name you agree upon. It could be a middle name and even a nickname. In some cases, you have two friends with the same first name so you may want to call them by their last names. They have to be okay with it.
Classmates This refers to someone, usually an age mate, whom you share a class with. First Name OR Last Name It is usually unnecessary to call a classmate with salutations unless it is a class for grown-ups. You should always address your classmates by their first names. However, you may need to call his or her last name if more people bear the same first name.
Co-workers This refers to fellow employees in your workplace. First Name OR Last Name The company culture may require that all employees address one another with their last names and salutations. In some companies, it is unnecessary so you get to choose how you want to be addressed.
Former teacher This refers to someone who you used to learn from Title + last name You should always respect your teacher even after learning all you have to learn. Therefore, you should use salutations and last names
Older people This refers to people who you believe are older than you Title + last name You should address older people with salutations and last names unless they suggest otherwise.
Acquaintance This refers to someone you are meeting for the first or second time; someone you barely know. Title + last name Call an acquaintance with a salutation and a last name to show respect. He or she may suggest a different name or salutation to be addressed by.
Medical professionals This refers to doctors, nurses, and other people in the medical field Title + last name You should always address medical professionals by their titles and their last names.
Legal practitioners This refers to lawyers, juries, and other people in the legal field. Title+ last name You should always address legal practitioners by their salutations and last names.
Someone of different culture This refers to someone from a different background or a different culture Ask first.

Sir/Ma

While it is tolerable to call the wrong names in some cultures, it isn’t in other cultures. You should ask how a person would like to be addressed first.

 

What is Name-calling?

Is Calling Someone by Their Last Name Disrespectful

Name-calling refers to the use of insults and derogatory statements mostly found among children This is attributed to bullies and immature people.

Consequences of name-calling

  • Drastic reduction of self-confidence
  • Dissociation
  • Violence
  • Compromise of values
  • It can affect the public image of the victim.

Drastic reduction of self-confidence

When a child is being called insulting names, his self-esteem can be drastically reduced.

A child that is often called Fat by his mates may begin to see himself that way and will start to do things to change the situation.

Dissociation

When a child is often called derogatory names, there is a high chance that dissociation will happen. The child will find it hard to hang out with friends while trying to avoid being insulted

Violence

At a point in time, a child can decide to stand up to his bully. This can lead to violence.

Compromise of values

While some children get insulted with derogatory words, some bullies can mock a child with good words.

A child can be mocked for being excessively polite, early to class, kind, and having other commendable characteristics.

This may lead to an erosion of a child’s sense of values.  To challenge the system, a child can stop being kind or good to people.

It can affect the public image of the victim.

When a person is called insulting names by several people, strangers and acquaintances can begin to identify him or her by those names.

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