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Saying "yes sir, yes ma'am" means more than you might think.


While serving in the military, I first discovered the importance of appropriately addressing officers as sir or ma'am. It wasn't until I work law enforcement in Florida that addressing everyone as sir or ma'am was not only expected but required. So I started to wonder why this saying is so much more prevalent in Southern states than in Northern states?


Growing up in Ohio, I never had much use for sir or ma'am. In fact to say it sounds a little terse or sarcastic. Even now, I've been approached by parents that are adamant that their child not call them ma'am. I simply agree to disagree.


Quick history: The use of the word “sir” dates back to the 1200's. It was originally “sire,” a title of respect for all men. In the 1300's, “ma’am” became a contraction of the word “madam.”

The word madam came from an Anglo-French reference for “ma dame,” which was the literal translation for the term “my lady.”

The only reason I could justify in my head the reason "sir and ma'am" was used more in Southern states was because of the multitudes of French that lived in and around the Southern Louisiana area. That they brought it over with the dialect of France.


In any case, at Karate Works, my goal is to build strong, confident children and young adults. The use of these words are not just for respect to one another but a way for children to build confidence in what is being told to them and how they respond. Another example is the use of the word "amen" Christians use after a prayer is said. The word is used as a strong agreement to the prayer. Likewise, sir or ma'am is a strong agreement to what someone is saying or telling them. So don't take it as insulting, take it as respect and be proud.

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