View Full Version : Bo vs. Senor/Senora su?

10-03-2012, 04:01 PM
When attempting to practice Papiamentu, while visiting Bonaire, is it still considered important to use the polite form of 'You' (Senor/Senora su) instead of 'you' (bo) when addressing an adult with whom you are not familiar with?

10-04-2012, 05:15 AM
I never say "bo" when I try to be polite.
I use the word Senor/Senora.
eg. Senora tin un poco awa pa mi?

10-04-2012, 08:39 AM
Unless you are quite familiar with the person, or you are speaking to someone much younger than you, "bo" is generally not appropriate. The polite form, senor/senora, or the more Papiamentu version yufou/meneer in place of "bo" will be appreciated. I have conversations with locals who I've known for years, but they still talk to me in third person, such as "Susan tin algu pa bebe?" (Does Susan have something to drink?) when they are speaking directly to me. So even when there is an established relationship, the polite form is still often used. Better to be safe and use the polite form than assume a familiarity that the other person does not feel comfortable with.

10-04-2012, 08:19 PM
Thanks for the input, smits and susan. That's pretty much what I suspected. If in doubt, better to err on the polite/safe side unless you are specifically invited to do otherwise. Is there some custom for crossing the line to familiarity as there is in some other cultures?

10-05-2012, 11:16 AM
Hi, there's no concise rule of thumb that I'm aware of, but remember that the polite form, in addition to being, well, polite, also can convey respect, as when someone addresses you in the third person while speaking to you. That's why someone whom I have known for twenty years might still use the polite form with me. In which case, I return the same respect by using the same form. I guess my recommendation is to play it safe, use the polite forms unless the other party has already used the familiar form with you.

10-05-2012, 11:34 AM
It is so interesting that if we were speaking with the same person in English we would rarely address them formerly as Mrs./Mr. So and So anymore. We have become very casual in our dealings with people these days it seems.

10-05-2012, 11:45 AM
I use the same rules as Susan mentioned. I always use the polite form, except when an older person (which becomes increasingly rare - the older I mean) uses the familiar form.
I address much younger peolple with the familiar form.
@ Nick - in non English speaking countries it can be quite tricky. I always stay on the safe side. In Germany I always use "Sie" in French "vous" and in Spanish "usted"
That might change at dinner after a couple of wines in the company of a person of the same age or younger :-)

10-05-2012, 11:59 AM
Growing up in a household where Russian was frequently spoken with my grandparents, this concept is very familiar to me as well.