Recently, I have been feeling very bugged by people calling me “Professor Aranha” when talking to me. It has been distracting me more than reasonable.
Whenever I hear someone calling me like that, it feels like they want to keep me at bay. I can understand being introduced as professor before a talk, or in a homepage, but when I’m talking one-on-one, it feels really strange, and puts me on the defensive. I learned to tolerate it from students, because I know they are playing it safe (hell, I know I was, when I was a student), but I still preferred if they didn’t.
I know people don’t mean it in a bad way, much the opposite, so I don’t make it a fuss. But I think it hampers communication. At least for me, this unnecessary formality hampers an open dialogue. It is like a big red siren yelling at both parties: “What out for what you will say next!”. It also just makes me feel sad.
Now the funniest thing, this does not affect me at all in Japanese. I don’t bat an eye when people call me “Professor” in Japanese, it even feels comfortable in a way that it doesn’t in English. I wonder if this is because my lack of domain of nuance in Japanese, which puts me in “speak carefully” mode all the time, or if I just see Japanese as a language I do business in… hmm.