coworker calls me “mama,” why are employers and job candidates held to different standards, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Coworker calls me “mama” because I’m pregnant

I am currently 18 weeks pregnant with my first child. I work remotely on a team made up entirely of remote workers. It’s a small team of all women, all of whom have kids or even grandkids, and we are very close and friendly. It’s definitely a professional environment (and being the youngest member of the team by far, I try to stay very professional) but we also share stories about our weekends, pictures of our pets, etc. and I like that.

I told my coworkers the news a couple weeks ago and they are all very excited for me. Each meeting or call seems to start with a report on how the baby and I are doing. I am totally comfortable with this and it has been an easy pregnancy, so it’s been simple enough to give a little soundbite that I’m feeling fine and everything is going well without getting into details of ultrasound pictures or symptoms.

One coworker is very nice but she is a little awkward. She keeps asking me “How is mama feeling?” Alison, I HATE being called mama, even among friends and family. It feels infantilizing and puts an emphasis on my new role as a mother which is only one part of my life, especially with coworkers. If this were a friend, I would have no problem telling them not to call me mama, but it’s a coworker so I have mostly just ignored it. I don’t mind ignoring it either, but maybe that’s weird too! Any advice or scripts for handling this with a minimum of awkwardness?

Ugh, yes, it’s weird, but there’s always someone who seems to want to do this.

It’s perfectly to say, “Oh, please stick with Beth. Thanks!” Then follow up with a subject change to minimize the awkwardness, if you want to.

If that doesn’t work (although hopefully it will), then you may have to repeat it: “I’m still Beth. Please call me that instead.”

For what it’s worth … you might be totally fine continuing to share those regular updates in meetings and calls, but you also might reach a point in your pregnancy where you want more privacy (especially if you have any complications). It can be easier to shut that down now than try to do it down the road — so it might be worth a “from here on, I’ll let you know if anything changes.” Or not — some people are fine with this level of sharing — it’s just something to keep in mind.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Why are employers and candidates held to different standards in hiring?

Why do recruiters do the opposite of what is expected by candidates, then cry that there is a talent shortage? For example, I am expected to customize a resume and cover letter for each specific job application to ensure that either the person reading my application can see how I’m qualified, or a computer algorithm doesn’t automatically reject it. Meanwhile, I get extremely generic messages from recruiters (regarding relevant positions) on LinkedIn only that my profile “intrigues them.” Why should I reply when they made zero effort to customize their message to me, and why do recruiters think this is acceptable when they expect applicants to do the opposite?

Well, you don’t need to reply to recruiters who send you obvious form letters if you don’t want to! Those recruiters tend to be going for numbers over quality, and in a lot of industries (not all, but many) might not be worth your time anyway.

But your larger point stands: Candidates are expected to put energy into things that employers don’t. Part of that is because recruiters need to convey the same message to enormous numbers of people, and form letters make sense for that. (It doesn’t make sense to write a personal rejection note to all 200+ people you might be rejecting for a single position; a form letter is going to convey what needs to be conveyed pretty effectively.) And part of it is that your materials will actually be more effective when you customize them, so it’s in your own interests to do it.

But part of it is also convention. There are a bunch of double standards in hiring that are rooted more in convention than anything else. For example, your interviewer can be late to the interviewer or check her phone in the middle of it, while it’s typically going to be really frowned upon for you to do that as a candidate. And you certainly couldn’t get away with sending employers a list of instructions for interviewing you or simply announce the time you will meet with them, while some employers do exactly that.

So yeah, there are double standards. Some are eye-rolly but not worth the capital it would take to fight them. Others are worth pushing back on.

3. I want to ask for a promotion four months into my new job

In negotiating my current role, the compensation I was offered was deliberately anchored to my previous package, a simple 10% on top of my previous salary. Frustratingly, my recruiter revealed this without my permission, which I feel was unfair because firstly, my previous company had implemented a company-wide pay freeze for over a year. I was told I was deserving of both a higher salary and promotion but they simply didn’t have the budget. Secondly, during the period I was searching for a new role to get the promotion I desired, I was offered senior roles more than once. However, I felt the companies weren’t the best environments for me to develop so I declined.

When I was negotiating my current package, I did bring up these points, but it came down to them simply not being willing to hire me in a senior role as they didn’t think I was quite there, so they refused to budge on either level or salary, adding that they expected me to progress fairly rapidly. I figured something was better than nothing so accepted regardless.

As my probation period comes to an end, I believe I’ve demonstrated myself to be performing at a senior level and would like to again request the promotion. I like my job and don’t want to go through the upheaval of starting somewhere new after just four months, but I can’t help but feel like I’m being short-changed, which is making me feel very dejected, especially as I see peers with less experience leapfrog my progress. How do I broach this subject during my probation review and find an outcome that suits us both?

Oooh, I don’t think you can. You can’t really ask for or expect a promotion after only four months, unless there are very unusual circumstances (like that you ended up doing a different job than the one you were hired for). They told you clearly four months ago that they didn’t think you were at a senior level, and it’s unlikely they’ll have changed that assessment in just four months. Plus, you accepted their offer for this role at this level — it would be operating in bad faith to resent being expected to stay in it now, when it’s been such a short time. Typically a year would be the earliest you could bring this up.

What you can do, though, is to ask your boss about how things are going generally, and whether she thinks you could realistically be on a path to move up to a senior level in time, and whether it’s something she’d be open to talking about once you’ve been there a year.

4. Should we send a graduation announcement to my husband’s boss?

My 45-year-old husband started his current job four years ago, at the same time he started college. He already had years of experience in his field and the college degree was a personal challenge. He graduates in May.

His company is small, less than 50 employees scattered across the country, and the CEO is his grandboss. The CEO’s wife heads up the home office with a small group. All other employees travel extensively for work. My husband has been pushing for a promotion after several successful large-scale projects. He’s had a small promotion and a raise since he’s been there, and they’ve paid for him to take several professional development courses and obtain certifications. His degree relates directly to the work he has been gunning for (but is not required to do said work).

I think we should send his boss and grandboss graduation announcements as a kind of nudge towards that goal. My husband is concerned it’s too personal but he’s on the fence. If it makes a difference, the announcements are standard fair, no photos, but have the chancellor’s crest for the university. As an idea of the company culture, they send out signed cards from the CEO and his wife and gifts to employees for most major holidays (typically things like company logo wear, specialty food items, and restaurant gift cards). He’s on a first-name basis with his boss and the CEO’s wife, but when speaking about/to the CEO it’s (Full Name). I certainly wouldn’t send them a baby or wedding announcement, but I feel this directly relates to his job. What’s your advice?

I wouldn’t, because a lot of people feel obligated to give gifts in response to graduation announcements (or read that expectation into them). I’d rather see him just send them both a note with the news, including thanks to them for supporting him in that work if they did (and definitely if they paid for any of his courses). But ultimately your husband knows the culture there best, and you and I should both defer to him on what feels right!

5. Putting Klingon fluency on a resume

I am a polyglot and like learning new languages. My current count is six (two fluent, one semi-fluent, three basics). A wonderful part of my CV, which many friends and employers agree, is a world map where I have every country highlighted where a language I know is spoken, and it easily covers a third of the world.

Now I started learning Klingon on Duolingo for fun (they also have High Valyrian), and my level of understanding is getting comparative to other languages I can understand. Is this a thing I could put on my CV, or would it only appear negatively?

I wouldn’t list Klingon on its own without other languages (unless you were a field where it would clearly be a plus, although I’m having trouble thinking of what those might be), but if you’ve already got a bunch of languages on there, I don’t think it would be a problem to add it. That said, I’m not convinced it’s going to strengthen your candidacy in any appreciable way; you clearly already have impressive language skills without it. But some hiring managers will see it as a fun thing that shows personality.

(For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t normally recommend including a graphic like a map on a resume or a CV. If you’re getting interviews for the jobs you want, then feel free to ignore me, but typically I wouldn’t use that sort of graphic on a resume. I’m not going to reject a good candidate over it though.)

{ 724 comments… read them below }

  1. INSEADer*

    Speaking as someone in international business: I would absolutely list languages on a resume, particularly if the job you are applying for has an international focus.

    Speaking as a Trekkie: I agree you should not list Klingon as your own language. As a third or fourth one, yes, it shows a quirky side and softens the “where in the world is Carmen Sandiego” aspect of things. Leave it in.

    1. Annette*

      Languages are a skill like any other. But map takes it to Carmen Sandiego territory. Adding Klingon + map = way too much IMHO.

        1. boo bot*

          I mean, in all seriousness this highlights the issue with the map! Where DOES Klingon go, if it’s a map of the Earth? But also, where does the pin go if it’s something like Spanish or English, where there are a number of countries in various parts of the world where it’s the predominant language?

          1. Frank Doyle*

            I think that’s her point, that she can shade a LOT of the world map if she knows, say, English Spanish and Portuguese. It’s shading of areas, not a pin in a single point.

          2. Evan Þ.*

            I’d probably put it in California, though I’m not sure whether to put it in San Francisco (Starfleet headquarters) or Los Angeles (Paramount studios).

            1. pancakes*

              People who aren’t fellow trekkies would almost certainly find that confusing. I had to read your sentence twice because the first time through it sounded like you were maybe going for a joke about Californians being spacey. How would someone isn’t a fan know where the space ships are headquartered, or know which studio owns the rights?

              1. the corner ficus*

                I think Evan was just kidding. Taking a silly amount of consideration of something that isn’t part of the question. ;)

            2. Buu*

              San Francisco, it’s where CBSi is headquarted and that’s why Star Fleet HQ is in San Francisco….

              That said unless you’re applying to a video games or media company I’d probably leave it off unless the company culture seems particularly fun.

        1. TootsNYC*

          it seems to be working, though.

          And one thing the map does it point out, for someone who never really thought about it before, what this could mean for international commerce for the company.

        2. wittyrepartee*

          Especially because there’s some languages where the dialect might be far enough from wherever/whatever you learned that you won’t be functional. Arabic in particular comes to mind, but most of southern China isn’t 100% linguistically accessible to Mandarin speakers, and even “Mandarin Speaking” cities can be quite challenging without a week or two of acclimation.

          Unless you’re doing a heat map of dialects, in which case- that’s really cool!

        3. GS*

          Depends on your industry maybe, but resumes that have all kinds of graphics on them just make me want to throw them out without a second look. Clean and easy to read are good, flashy is annoying. I have hundreds of resumes to get through – I want to see skills and fit quickly.

      1. hbc*

        Yeah, as someone who’s a language nut, a Trekkie, *and* comes from a family of cartographers, I’d probably give an eye roll at either the map or the Klingon. Both together would have me thinking that this person is going to be relentlessly quirky. Not saying it’s true of you, OP, but when all I have to go on is a resume….

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          A family of cartographers. How unusual and interesting! I’ve never seen that as something that really gets passed down, unless you’re, like, the Esri family.

          1. hbc*

            My parents met through work, and we’ve got a few amateurs in the family. I wouldn’t say I’m terribly knowledgable, but we used the backs of extra maps as coloring paper when we were young, so we picked up a lot by osmosis.

          2. wittyrepartee*

            My sister and I are both pretty good at mapping. We do different kinds of data though- I’m health data, and she’s in transit.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          “relentlessly quirky”

          Dear god, yes. I have my own weird hobbies, but a lot of my friends are Trekkies and Doctor Who fans, and sometimes their habitual referencing gets old. Even with people I really like and with whom I spend time voluntarily. I cannot imagine being trapped by it in a work setting, though.

          1. AKchic*


            I am a Whovian, and there are some friends that I get sick of because that is *all* they talk about. They know their other friends get sick of them so they will bombard me with IMs with their “witty rejoinders” that they chose not to comment on in threads that I’ve never even seen. I generally just ignore the one-sided commentary and let them monologue until they finally say something that actually does need to be commented on. It may seem rude to anyone outside of our circle, but it is doing everyone a favor. They have an outlet to “talk”, and I can engage when I have time and want to and nobody else is getting bored to tears by the pedantic trivia of scientific sci-fi minutiae.

            1. VioletCrumble*

              When I read Whovian – first I was thinking of Whoville as in “Horton hears a Who” and thought… oh how cute… alas — Dr. Who Whovian I’m assuming..

    2. matcha123*

      Maybe it could go under a separate “hobbies” label? I think putting it under “languages” wouldn’t be taken well with a typical company. If she was applying for a job related to fandom, I can see it being a plus. Or at a company known for being quirky?

      1. PB*

        Maybe? Honestly, if I saw a resume with six languages listed plus Klingon, it would read a little off-kilter, but not enough to reject. Proficiency in six languages is still pretty damn impressive, and most resumes have some weird little flaws.

      2. Aveline*

        WRT to where to put an artificial language or a dead language: There are two purposes for putting a language on a resume.

        The first purpose is to show employers you might have a skill that they could use for their own benefit. Speak German and the company has offices in Germany? That’s valuable to the company. If you speak a rare language that’s not of use to the company, it’s not valuable to them as a language.

        The second purpose is to show you’ve got the ability to master a certain type of skill. In that sense there’s no difference between an artificial language, a dead language, or a rarely spoken language that’s never used in business settings.

        My question to the commentariat is how one would list the languages that fall in the second category.

        I think he issue is resumes just generically list “languages” as a convention when it’s collapsing two very distinct things.

        Speaking German, Mandarin, or Swahili is likely type 1 if you are applying at Google. Speaking Klingon or Latin or Kaixana is likely type 2. It’s an accomplishment, but not a useful skill for the company.

        1. Ammonite*

          It also depends on the field. In my area, knowing Latin is a considered a nice bonus skill- not specifically required, but many jobs have a statement to the effect of “knowledge of language besides English preferred” in the posting, and Latin absolutely counts because it has potential to be useful at work. Klingon (or High Valerian, for that matter) would not count because it does not have the same potential.
          I would think that listing six languages on your resume gets across the point that you’re a polyglot pretty clearly without needing to add Klingon. If I’m an employer I’m going to recognize that you’re good at languages, then see if we have a need for your skills in any particular one. Since we’re unlikely to need your skills in Klingon, it doesn’t really add anything.
          I’d argue that the best way to separate out the languages is by level of fluency. I’ve often felt misled by a resume that listed a language but it turned out they didn’t really speak it, they had just messed around with it online a few times.
          OP, my recommendation is leave off Klingon from the resume and divide the other languages the way you did here- fluent, intermediate, basic. Keep Klingon in reserve as a great “fun fact” in an icebreaker or if the interviewer asks about your hobbies.

        2. nnn*

          I feel that if you’re listing languages all together, there’s no harm in listing languages irrelevant to the job alongside languages that are relevant to the job.

          I think your experience using languages should also be mentioned in the parts of your resume where you used those languages.

          So under your previous jobs, you’d put “Provided customer support in English, French and Spanish” or “Wrote technical documentation in English and German.”

          Or, if you haven’t used them in the workplace, they could also go under Education: “B.A. in Teapot Design with a minor in French” or “Courses include Teapot Design, Teapot History, French, Spanish, German”

          Then, near the bottom of the resume, “Languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Klingon”

        3. Parenthetically*

          Super field dependent for sure — knowing Latin in a LOT of academic fields is going to fall somewhere between “ooh, bet that’ll come in handy someday” and “THANK GOD, WE NEED THIS DESPERATELY.”

          1. wittyrepartee*

            Lol, I think in my field the reaction would be like “umm… okay. We very rarely need to interview priests with amnesia or ancient demons. How’s your Spanish and Haitian Creole?”

            1. Parenthetically*

              priests with amnesia or ancient demons Ha! :) Yeah, I reckon in a lot of western history, sciences, literary, religious, and other kinds of fields it could be an advantage though!

        4. wittyrepartee*

          Yeah, but we must remember that there’s “prestige” and “non-prestige” languages as well. Saying you know Latin will cause people to react a lot differently than telling people you speak High Valerian. It all depends on the person too. Get a good read of your audience before you put either.

        5. Anonymeece*

          I actually speak Latin and Ancient Greek and always felt awkward about where or if to put that on my resume! This actually kind of clarifies that thought process for me.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Classical Attic, or merely Koine? Because I’m telling you right now, Koine ain’t gonna impress nobody!

    3. Shell*

      I know that academia is its own thing, but . . . I’m a US academic who has run searches for faculty positions. I am also a lifelong fan of science fiction, with a particular fondness for Star Trek. I would roll my eyes at Klingon on a CV, and it would definitely not be a mark in anyone’s favor. It would be like putting your guitar lessons or your training for a marathon on your CV, and I would wonder what possible relevance it could have for the job. It would not be immediately disqualifying on an otherwise good CV, but it would make me wonder about your grasp of professional norms.

      1. Aveline*

        I agree. But where I’m stuck is this: people put Latin on their resumes all the time. It’s not as if anyone is speaking Latin in a business setting.

        If I saw Latin and someone was over 50, I’d think “Private Catholic School.” If I saw “Klingon,” I’d say geek (in a good way).

        Realistically there is some slight grammar advantage to knowing Latin, but I’m not sure it’s so much more than a really well grounded language education.

        Similarly, if I spoke a language that had only 20 native speakers left and I put that on a resume, no one would bat an eye even though it’s of no use to an employer (unless it’s a service provider to those 20 people).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Latin is extremely useful for law (ipso facto), medicine (delerium tremens) & honestly any other sciences with codified nomenclature (homo sapiens. stannous vs stannic). Anyone who needs to read historical documents (the Magna Carta).
          A software developer I know insists that his logic was greatly improved by studying Latin — and I’ve *seen* him read & comprehend Italian and French extrapolating from his high school Latin.

          1. Aveline*

            Not trying to move the goalposts, but now I am curious: would your advice be the same if the job was in Tokyo and the only language spoken at work was Japanese? Would Latin matter then?

            Is it only that we are all presuming a Western view of the world?

            What if the language were Biblical Hebrew or Sanskrit?

            I concur that Latin and Greek are probably unique if the language of the office is European in origin. But I think that’s the start of a discussion point, not the end of it.

            1. Shell*

              Well, the academic hiring that I’ve done is in history. So I would absolutely expect a historian of Asia to list Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or some other relevant language or languages. I was just looking at the CV of a historian of India who listed Punjabi and Urdu. A medievalist really has to have Latin, and other languages as well. It is not that Latin is always the best tool for the job, but I can imagine any number of scenarios (not just history, but law, medicine, etc.) where a knowledge of Latin would be at least helpful. But Klingon? Unless you are writing for Star Trek, I’m hard-pressed to think of a scenario where knowledge of Klingon would be meaningful, and therefore it shouldn’t be on the CV.

              1. Dragoning*

                Tor has a few book classics published in Klingon, so it would probably go over well at sci-fi/fantasy publishers and maybe gaming companies. Things that are relentlessly geek-oriented.

            2. My Name Is Inigo Montoya*

              Since this site is US-based and most advice is US- or at least Anglosphere-based, I believe that Seeking Second Childhood definitely gave this advice with the Western world in mind (which is fine). Someone in Japan might have a use for Latin – it would depend on the job, of course, but you can’t definitively say that Latin would never be important in Japan, although I agree it is much less likely. But much of the Western world is rooted in the Latin language, so saying it’s not important here, despite being a dead language, is incorrect. SSC gave a lot of examples in which Latin is important in the English-speaking world.

              However, I think that being able to learn any language, currently spoken or not, shows a skillset that might still be valuable to employers. Someone who can speak/read Sanskrit definitely shows a lot of commitment, although I think anyone trying to learn Sanskrit or Biblical Hebrew is probably doing it because it relates to their job in some way. Klingon is just for fun. Unless you are a screenwriter for Star Trek, I suppose…

            3. Observer*

              Biblical Hebrew is so close to modern Hebrew that anyone who can understand the former will do fine understanding the latter. Speaking, not so much because the language patterns and vocabulary are juts different enough that you’re likely to have a bit of an issue. But it’s relatively easy to get up to speed.

              As for Latin, if you are in most science fields, it’s going to be useful even if you’re not in the West.

            4. Nesprin*

              Yes, since scientific terminology is almost always latinate and almost always consistent across languages. Mitochondria is mitochondria in most languages.

          2. LawBee*

            Latin isn’t useful in law at all, honestly. There is an increasingly strong move towards getting rid of those obsolete Latin phrases and moving towards plain language. The last time I used a Latin phrase in legal writing was in law school. We actually edit it out of older briefs for the most part – there are a few exceptions where the Latin phrase IS the legal concept (res judicata, for example).

            Lots of reasons to learn Latin exist, I’m sure! I’ve never heard anyone say they regretted taking it. But it’s not extremely useful in law at all.

            1. tallteapot*

              I took Latin in college. Definitely regretted it. Wish that I had spent my effort learning a language that is actually spoken.

            2. Oaktree*

              As a legal researcher (though not in the US, where I assume you’re writing from), I find a basic knowledge of Latin to be very helpful. I’m not a lawyer or paralegal, but I do still have to do in-depth research in case law and legislation, as well as legal scholarly writing, so yeah, it is helpful to know what mens rea, pari delicto, amicus curiae, inter vivos, etc. mean, given that I need to be able to search headnotes and case summaries, and some will use plain language and some will not. If a leading case doesn’t use exclusively plain language, I still need to find it.

              1. LawBee*

                Yeah, but you don’t need to have studied Latin as a language for that. You can use a general legal dictionary – or Google, honestly.

              2. Mutatis mutandis*

                it is helpful to know what mens rea, pari delicto, amicus curiae, inter vivos, etc. mean.

                Hmm, so you can either consult a dictionary or take four years of Latin classes.

                Now we know lawyers bill by the hour but this is ridiculous!

            3. AJ*

              A little bit of Latin would go a way to letting people know that “etc.” is an abbreviation of “et cetera”. “Ect.” means nothing – I don’t know why it’s so prevalent in the US.

          3. Dust Bunny*

            Medical school library: Latin, Spanish (we’re in Texas), French, Italian, and German would all be very useful in my job. I keep meaning to learn to at least read, if not pronounce, German specifically because a lot of our material in a few specific collections is in German. I can already read Spanish and basic French pretty well. My boss is pretty good with Japanese, which is handy sometimes since we have some atomic bomb-related collections and have some close-ish ties to Japan through them.

            Klingon would not go over well, though. I do have job skills that were enhanced by some of my hobbies, but the connection isn’t strong enough to justify putting them on a resume.

          4. TootsNYC*

            in fields like law and medicine, you really don’t need to have learned Latin to learn those terms. They have highly specific legal and medical meanings beyond the simple definition of the word (same w/ terms in English; “quiet enjoyment” and “hostile work environment” do NOT mean what most English speakers assume them to mean based on the dictionary.

          5. Tammy*

            I’m not sure I’d agree that Latin is “extremely useful” for law, medicine, etc. I mean, I worked as a paralegal for several years, and while understanding Latin would be useful if you were going to write a law dictionary, it’s not really so otherwise. Whatever field you’re in, there is a vocabulary that is used in that field, and you learn that vocabulary. If you know Latin, you’ll know what phrases like “ejusdem generis” and “in pari materia” mean. If not, you’ll look them up in Black’s Law Dictionary the first time you see them, and then they’ll just join the list of legal terms of art in your brain.

            1. TootsNYC*

              but even if you know what they translate as, you don’t actually know their legal meaning (which will involve all sorts of legal issues)

            2. Women should be maesters too*

              Agreed. I took Latin for a couple of years in school and Spanish for a couple years in college. I didn’t think Latin was helpful in med school. Just as much terminology is based in Greek, and medicine has progressed quite a lot since people really used Latin, so you’ve got to learn the modern terminology anyway. On the other hand, if you’re practicing in California, any little scrap of Spanish you can speak will be useful every single day.

          6. Michaela Westen*

            Yes, when I was learning Spanish I found I could also read bits of Portuguese, French and Italian. I even understood the spoken French in the I Love Lucy episode. :)

          7. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            Oh, absolutely!
            I had four years of Latin in school, and was utterly astonished (and pleasantly surprised) that I could read and translate from one foreign language (Italian) into another (English) quite fluently while on a project in Milan.

          8. Richard Hershberger*

            Not really. All fields have specific vocabulary. That some specific vocabulary or some fields is Latin is neither here nor there. Throw any Latin into a legal brief that isn’t standard vocabulary and you will just look like a twit, and either annoy the judge who has to look it up, or (more likely) lose the thread of your argument because the judge doesn’t bother.

          9. Mutatis mutandis*

            Latin is extremely useful for law

            Any lawyer or would-be lawyer would be EXTREMELY well advised to study a modern language, rather than Latin.

            There are not *that* many Latin terms in law, and certainly not enough that a comprehensive knowledge of the language is going to win a cost-benefit analysis over mastering a substantive area of law.

            Moreover, an English translation of Latin terms is usually perfectly acceptable; indeed, the use of Latin is increasingly disfavored. The UK Law Society actively discourages the use of Latin where English terms will suffice (“on parity with” versus “pari passu”). The SEC requires the use of “plain English.” In contracts and disclosure documents I actively edit out the use of Latin.

            The only phrase I can think of where the translation does not seem to capture the original is “mutatis mutandis” (“the necessary changes having been made”).

            Your time and energy would be much better directed to mastering a major international language, and especially a non-Western one (Russian/Arabic/Chinese/Hindi), which will help you generate clients.

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          So many things are derived from Latin, though. An understanding of Latin can help learn other languages, deduce etymology, and like Seeking Second Childhood says, there are lots of professional situations that use Latin phrases and words.

          1. Wired Wolf*

            I work in a food store that imports everything from Italy. As such, a lot of (if not all) packaging is Italian–the only English is on the FDA-required nutritional label. I took Latin for my high school tenure and have found it immensely useful in that regard; can’t speak it anymore or fully understand spoken Italian but I’ve retained enough to be able to decipher shipping manifests, product labels and specific ingredients and translate a lot from context.

          2. Parenthetically*

            Yep, the etymology thing is big. There’s a program for students called English From the Roots Up that teaches Latin and Greek for exactly this purpose. I was a spelling bee nerd in elementary and middle school and studied Latin and Greek so I’d be able to deduce spellings of unfamiliar words.

          3. twig*

            I had a professor in grad school who had gone to catholic school k-12 and had to learn Latin and Greek.

            He said that meant that he rarely had to use a dictionary to look up word meanings because he recognized their roots from Latin or Greek. (this concept fascinated me and I wished I’d had Latin and/or Greek available as a language class in grad school)

        3. Martha*

          Speaking as someone with hiring experience in academia: Latin is useful because it helps people understand sophisticated and specialized vocabulary (e.g., medical terms); it’s also directly useful in some academic fields (e.g., history).

          Klingon demonstrates an ability to learn difficult languages, and it sounds like OP demonstrates that just fine with the other languages. I wouldn’t disqualify a candidate for listing Klingon among a group of other languages, but it would look weird to me unless the candidate was applying for a job where Klingon specifically might be useful (e.g., teaching science fiction, or coaching actors in foreign language dialogue).

        4. Courageous cat*

          Oh please let’s not put Latin and f-ing Klingon of all things into the same category of languages. Whether or not it’s valid, it’s disingenuous to act as though constructed languages (and I don’t even know exactly how expansive Klingon is but my initial impression is that it’s not as much so as non-constructed languages) are going to be taken half as seriously as a “real one”, even if it is dead.

      2. Pippa*

        Another academic chiming in to agree with all of this. Faculty hiring in many fields is pretty geek-tolerant, but on the other hand we’re hiring someone who might be our colleagues for the next 25 years, so coming off as “relentlessly quirky,” in hbc’s excellent phrase above, isn’t necessarily a plus.

        And how these language abilities will be perceived is likely to vary by context. It could look like an indicator of skills, or a personality quirk, or irrelevant, or even unremarkable – in some social and work contexts, multiple language ability is common. OP knows their own professional field, of course, but might be putting more emphasis on this than they need to do.

        1. Sarah N*

          I mean, academia is also challenging in that there are so few jobs and so many applicants. Meaning that a lot of committees are looking for a reason to toss out an application, because we just need to get through this stack of 150-500 CVs. In that context, I think it’s especially risky to try for a “quirky” CV situation that risks the committee’s discussion being about your Klingon skills rather than your research skills. Of course, this would be different if you were apply for jobs in, say, new media and proposing to teach a course on the politics of Star Trek or whatever! But, if it’s not relevant, I think it’s risky to include in an academic application.

      3. Blue*

        Meanwhile, I’m on the administration side of academia, and if someone had Klingon listed as language #7 on their resume, I would find it kind of entertaining. I don’t think it would sway my feelings about their candidacy either way. (If it was one of two languages, that would be a different story.) But I would imagine most people applying for academic jobs or in other fields that have fairly rigid expectations would know to err on the conservative side on something like this. I think this is a know-your-industry thing as much as it is a calculation about what you want your resume to reveal about you as a person.

        1. Psyche*

          I agree. Having it at the bottom of a longish list of languages would come across to me as showing a hint of personality. So long as everything else if very professional, I would probably want to meet them. If it was combined with other unorthodox things in the resume, it could stray into “relentlessly quirky” as mentioned above. Klingon combined with the map might be too much. I would pick one.

          1. Anne of Green Gables*

            Yes, this is pretty much where I land. Last on a list of languages as a fun fact. I’m also in favor of ditching the map, but I don’t work for a global company so the “this is where I could speak the native language” piece doesn’t do anything for me.

        2. Bawab*

          I agree. I’m on the admin/student services side. We’d find it entertaining on it’s own, and among a list of other languages, it just shows a willingness to learn new things. It would not at all hurt a candidate.

      4. DrR*

        I’m also a US academic with faculty search experience in English. It is highly unlikely that Kingon would be seen as a detriment, and depending on the field, it could be a tremendous asset. Somehow I doubt OP is applying for sci fi or pop culture professorial positions, though. In non-faculty academic work, if the position is related to student life (advising, inclusion, tutoring, any position with a lot of student interaction), I could see it being helpful.

        Philosophically, I think its absurd that hiring managers see it as a serious defect to list Klingon and I’m not a trekkie at all. But maybe that’s because I think “company culture” is often a coded way to enforce racist and classist biases.

        OP– If you’re on the fence, leave it off the resume but bring it up during the interview if the subject of language comes up.

        1. Sarah N*

          I think that is generally true of “company culture,” but in this case, I fail to see how a bias against Star Trek fans is either racist or classist. (Maybe it’s not a good hiring metric, but I don’t see how it falls in either of those categories.)

      5. Batman*

        I don’t do any hiring, so my viewpoint isn’t that relevant, but if I saw a resume with Klingon listed I’d probably think less of the candidate. I’d rather just see stuff related to the job.

      6. Double A*

        I put completed marathons under a “Personal Interests” section at the very end of my resume. However, I’m a high school teacher, so these can be relevant to potential extracurricular activities that you might supervise. I probably wouldn’t put it on a resume for a more corporate gig, though I’ve never applied for those.

      7. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

        I completely disagree! I’m a bit of a Trekkie myself and, while I would love all of the languages on the resume, I would interview OP just BECAUSE he speaks Klingon!

    4. MissGirl*

      Leave it off unless it’s related or really quirky office. You don’t want to be the guy who gets his resume shown around the office for the wrong reasons. This would read in my work as young, immature, and out of sync.

    5. Daisy*

      Personally I don’t think a language solely learnt through Duolingo (which it sounds like this is) would ever be worth putting on a resume. Even when you’ve completed the course you’re at an extremely low level, and there’s basically no speaking practice.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah I raised an eyebrow at that as well. Learning a language on an app is very different from being able to use it in a business context, which is presumably what an employer would care about. I speak a second language fluently, but my third language I can read a newspaper without a dictionary, but don’t really feel comfortable speaking it and can’t understand it that well in brisk conversation. I generally don’t put that on my resume unless it’s somehow very applicable to the job.

        1. Mimi Me*

          My daughter is passionate about languages and plans to study that in college. She is fluent in Spanish and semi-fluent in German. She’s put a lot of work into the study of these languages (she’s adding Japanese this fall!) and has big issues with Duolingo. She’s really big into knowing how the language sounds and how it should be written as well. Apparently Duolingo is okay for speaking, but she says there’s no way to effectively learn how to read and write in the language through the app. She does use it to practice her pronunciation, but that’s about it.

          1. Femme d'Afrique*

            Duolingo does an OK job of introducing absolute beginners to a language, but it really can’t take you far. I got to the “intermediate” stage of one language, felt fairly confident about my grasp on things, went to another free website that focused on pronunciation and couldn’t understand a thing. I wasn’t bad with reading, but wow, did my confidence take a hit! And I hadn’t even tried to have a conversation with a native speaker yet!

            I think it’s best to treat Duolingo as a purely introductory tool, nothing more.

          2. pleaset*

            Duolingo aside, if someone can only speak a language, but that languge might be professionally useful, they can indicate it on their resume – Fluency in English, French, and Mandarin (spoken)

          3. Bee*

            Duolingo used to be really good for this: they actually forced you to type in the words yourself and dinged you for spelling. I quit using it once they replaced that with the current matching game: if you don’t have to come up with the words yourself, it’s pointless.

            1. Oaktree*

              You can absolutely choose to type the words yourself. I’m not sure whether you’re using an older version of the app, or what, but I practiced Hebrew two days ago and got dinged for my spelling all the time, so I can tell you that you 100% do not have to do the “matching game”.

      2. yet another library anon*

        I know it’s more tangential than anything, but if LW wants to really push fluency, they could potentially find some meet-ups for languages they speak. I know in NOLA there’s a regular Italian lunch for folks learning the language to come together and speak. And so many French-language events.

        If they’ve gotten that far in DuoLingo, they’re probably ready to take the step of trying it out in a social context, and *that* could help get them to a level where their language fluency is something they could definitely put on their CV.

      3. Manon*

        I completely agree with this. Duolingo is helpful for learning vocabulary and some basic formations, but it does a poor job of teaching grammar. You don’t really learn how the language works.

      4. Ella Vader*

        I was thinking this too – once the OP mentioned studying Klingon through Duolingo and wanting to add it to their resume with a comparative skill level to their other languages, I discounted their assessment of “basic” fluency in the others, too.

        1. Hermione at Heart*

          Yes, this pinged my radar too. I’m not sure what “basic” fluency is, or if it indicates a level of language skill that’s high enough to actually be of use in the workplace. Because language skill isn’t prioritized in the US, most Americans tend to grade language ability on a curve.

          To use myself as an example: I speak and understand French well. I can hold my own and participate in entirely French-speaking social situations, understand French-language media (both written and spoken), have navigated a doctor’s office, police station, and dentist’s office in France or francophone Canada without needing to break into English. I certainly could have a nice conversation with French-speaking clients at dinner or translate in situations where absolute precision is not of paramount importance.

          Most Americans would describe this as “fluent.” The European CEFR criteria rank me as a B2, or “upper intermediate,” which is really the bare minimum for doing serious business in a foreign language.

          All this to say: If language mastery is important for the job you’re applying for, you need to be careful and precise about how you’re describing your abilities. If not, your languages are really something more like hobbies or nice-to-haves — and in that case, sure, why not list Klingon?

        2. Courageous cat*

          Yeah. This is the kind of thing, too, that gets people to mistrust those who say they’re fluent in multiple languages. Fluency is at least a little subjective anyway, so if you’re going to compare your Duolingo skills to something you claim to be fluent in, that’s going to make a few eyes roll. Duolingo’s good, but it’s not that good.

      5. Courageous cat*

        Yes, this gave me a lot of pause too. I don’t think you can possibly become anywhere within the realm of “fluent” with Duolingo. I just feel pretty sure it’s not that big and comprehensive.

      6. Mahkara*

        I was thinking the same. Going through all the courses at Duolingo doesn’t equal any real fluency. It can help drill grammar and build vocabulary, sure, but I’m not sure the courses I’ve taken would even allow me to ask for directions. (Far less hold a conversation.)

    6. JSPA*

      I like the map for any job that serves intentional clients. It’s instantly graspable, more effective than a list of countries, and frankly, especially in the USA, people can be deeply clueless about what’s spoken where.

      1. Amy*

        I don’t think it’s great to assume your interviewer will be deeply clueless.

        One of my bosses speaks Tagalog and another speaks Haitian Creole. Looking at a map and marking that you speak the language of the Philippines and Haiti because you speak some Spanish and some French seems a bit arrogant.

      2. Argh!*

        If the language is irrelevant to the job, a map won’t make a difference. If the language is relevant to the job, the employer already knows where the language is used. Therefore, the map is useless and either 1) arrogant or 2) insulting to the employer.

        1. JSPA*

          Companies don’t start out being infinitely global, and with infinite expertise and absolutely equal attention to all geographic areas. Sales and projects in a new area can spring from having someone qualified to do the selling and outreach in that area. A department can handle some international business without keeping a map in their head of every language widely spoken in every country.

          Say you do sales to, or projects in, a handful of countries in Africa. You know that French is useful in Senegal, Benin, and Congo (where you have business) but Burkina Faso– where you don’t currently have business (but could)–isn’t on your radar. Well, OK, you have a couple of french speakers to handle that, so this new person would be backup for them, at best, when one’s on maternity leave. On the other hand, Angola is off of your radar. Knowing you have a Portuguese speaker who’s bringing the country to your attention could really be a plus. Add that to the upcoming maternity leave, and it becomes a real selling point–because they can start as part of a two person team in a known region, then generate new business in a new location, when the maternity leave person returns.

          1. Amy*

            If a person spoke French, had experience expanding/ running a business in West Africa and we were interested in a global expansion that’s one thing. But it seems like a big leap to say a Duolingo certification means you’d be great at international business expansion in countries you may never have visited and whose customs and dialect you don’t know. English is the official language of Nigeria, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Botswana among many others. I don’t think I’d have any insight into expansion there just based on the fact I’m a native American English speaker.

            1. Hermione at Heart*

              Yes, this, plus the fact that there’s a huge gap between speaking a language well enough to be comfortable in everyday conversations and speaking it well enough to do business in that language, even before you get to cultural barriers.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I like the map as well, for some of the same reasons.
        Also, sure, a boss might stop and think that Spanish is spoken in many places, but it’s a nice graphic.

        And as Alison says–if it’s working, if the OP *is* getting called in for interviews for relevant jobs, why drop it?

    7. HailRobonia*

      On the topic of languages, one time I had to tell an Chinese-American intern that she should list both Mandarin AND Shanghainese on her resume. She said she didn’t list Shanghainese (which she speaks at home) because she didn’t think Americans even knew what it was. She was probably right on that regard, but it is definitely a notable skill and would definitely stand out (especially since Shanghai is becoming such an economic powerhouse).

    8. Midlife Tattoos*

      Maybe I’m an outlier here, but I think listing Klingon would impress me. Not because I’m a Trekkie (I’m not) but I’m fascinated by the idea of making up an entire language that DOESN’T have it’s roots based in Latin or Greek. They are making up something that took eons to develop naturally. That just blows my mind, like the people who made up High Valerian, etc.

      1. AK*

        If you’re interested in making one yourself there’s plenty of online resources. A general search for ‘conlanging’ should bring up some stuff for you, but there’s a fairly active reddit community and Mark Rosenfelder’s ‘Language Contruction Kit’ is a good free online resource (he has more detailed books that you can buy as well). It’s not everybody’s thing, but I personally find it fascinating!

  2. publishing anon*

    Re: #5: I wouldn’t list Klingon on its own without other languages (unless you were a field where it would clearly be a plus, although I’m having trouble thinking of what those might be)

    Fantasy fiction publishing! Especially the types of publishers that print novelizations or continuations of movies or TV shows. This is definitely something you’d see in the fantasy publishing world and while I never worked on those books myself, I know there were definitely people who had to have subject matter expert on made up languages. They were usually writers hired to write offshoot novels, but sometimes editors or fact checkers, too.

    1. Sleepy*

      I can easily see people in nerdy industries like game development loving the Klingon factoid.

      Personally I’m not into Star Trek and I’m torn on how I would feel receiving this…on a strong resume, it might be charming and harmless; on a weak resume, I think I’d roll my eyes.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I think this is true of a lot of jokey elements to resumes. If the resume is otherwise very strong and focussed, it can land as a lighthearted joke and may help the reviewer remember you. If the resume is not really strong, it’s likely to come across as irritating and hurt your application.

        1. Mimi Me*

          And it’s also knowing your audience. Years ago my husband was a Radio DJ and when he’d interview at a station he’d send a postcard thank you that was a picture of him and some guy from a band called Static X. He came up with some punny caption along the lines of “I’d be X-static to work for you.”. It always went over well at the stations he worked for / interviewed with.
          It didn’t go over well when he was trying to get a job outside that field. One interviewer called him to actually ask him if he had meant to send the postcard to someone else because they had no idea who the band was.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Yup, nailed it.

          By itself, or on a mediocre resume = hard no. But if OP’s resume is excellent, and she can speak multiple languages, throwing Klingon in there is a fun idea and an easy way to make her resume stand out, IMO.

      2. MT*

        I think Sleepy summed it up well!
        I am a fan of Star Trek and feel the same way – strong resume would be interesting, weak resume eye rolling.

        Once I received a cv in Star Wars font printed landscape like the credits – trashed it as it was for a high level director position.

        1. AKchic*

          I can’t even begin to imagine what that person was thinking. C-suite positions (or just one step below) aren’t the place for “fun”, “quirky” or “unique” resumes. None of us are Elle Woods, so scented, pink resumes will get us nowhere.

      3. TheAwkwardInterviewer*

        This is tough for me. At my current job, I put a picture of my dog in my cover letter. For full context, the company has a specific site off their main site that is just devoted to pictures of employees dogs. When I had my first interview, they gushed about the picture I submitted. I made the joke that when I decided to add the picture, it was either going to result in no callback, or you would love it. No other options. :)

        So, if they have a feel on their audience, or want to do it as their own filter in a sense that they wouldn’t want to work for someplace that doesn’t have a sense of humor, or a love of sci-fi, then I say put it in.

    2. Annette*

      In fantasy fiction publishing – wouldn’t you mention that in your cover letter anyway? To me this is a relevant hobby not skill. Then again some people do list hobbies on their C.V. In Europe maybe not U.S.

      1. publishing anon*

        I only ever received resumes when recruiters passed along candidates, and when we went looking for SME on our own it was usually a resume passed around via coworkers who’d worked with that person before or a website or LinkedIn with only a resume.

        It’s definitely a hobby and not a skill for most jobs, but I was only providing an example of a nice industry where it would be a skill.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Although whether I have read a CV in Europe listing hobbies, it’s always reading, biking or watching films.

            1. MT*

              Oh I work in Europe and felt the opposite. Canadian and Americans tend to list hobbies and Europeans photos or date of birth (all three are horrible).

              I dislike when European use Europass format. Stop doing this please as no one likes it unless it is stated that you must do it…worse CV format ever.

              1. A bit of a saga*

                Yes on the Europass format! It goes on for pages and pages and it’s really difficult to see what actually makes the candidate special.

    3. MK*

      Eh, I don’t think knowledge of Klingon is a particularly useful skill even in that field. Can you even use it unless you are working in the Star Trek franchise? Even if you can, how often is it likely to come up? As Alison and others have said, this is at best a cute detail that might give your resume personality, not a qualification that is likely to strengthen it.

      1. Bee*

        Useful? No. A great indicator of longstanding enthusiasm for the genre, which SFF publishers definitely screen for? Absolutely!

    4. Magenta Sky*

      Or the movie industry.

      But generally, in either, the resume is called an “agent.”

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Klingon seems like it would be useful if you’re seeking employment as a conlang developer, but in a lot of other fields and contexts, it could read as a bit precious. I’d also be concerned about a person’s ability to self-evaluate their fluency in other natural languages if they’re listing competency in Klingon.

      1. Saammaa*

        Yeah, I’m not going to trust your judgment on your capacity in other languages if you tell me you are equally good at Klingon because you did the DuoLingo course. That’s not a reasonable indicator and suggests a lack of awareness of what it actually takes to be fluent in a language. It would make me think you were seriously over-estimating your linguistic abilities, frankly.

        As a mention in a cover letter, it might work. “I’m fascinated by languages and how they work, and have learned several (examples) …. I’ve even learned some Klingon!” Where you’re not putting it on the same level, but it adds another piece of info and exemplifies your enthusiasm. Might be a nice aside if the language thing is relevant and the fluency is genuine. Otherwise, no.

    6. Sapphire*

      In my other life, I’m an actor. If I were auditioning for A Klingon Christmas Carol or the Klingon Hamlet (yes, these shows exist and have been produced a bunch of times), I’d for sure list Klingon proficiency on my resume there.

      1. Shell*

        This is amazing. Does Scrooge learn that an honorable death in battle is the true meaning of Christmas?

        1. Fluff*

          See, Klingon is a classical language! Now, if you killed your commanding officer to rise in the ranks….I’d probably leave that off the CV for working on earth.

    7. publishing anon*

      I think people are missing the point of my comment, which was to point out an industry where Klingon would be considered a useful skill or seen as a hobby that gives someone a boost. Alison said she didn’t know a field where it would be a plus, and I gave one.

      I’m not saying it should be on every resume for every other field. Just this one niche industry where, from my experience in said field, it would be useful.

    8. many bells down*

      I volunteer at a museum that has a big science fiction component. If I knew Klingon, I would totally put it on my resume for a real job there. I am sure I wouldn’t actually USE it, but I know any of the senior staff would get a kick out of it (I had an interview for a position last year, and I wore a blazer with Starfleet patterned lining and they totally noticed. And loved it.)

  3. Edith*

    5. My favorite personal factoid is that due to living in Belgium as a teenager I can say “I would like a local beer please” in five languages.

    One of those languages is Pig Latin.

    1. Introvert girl*

      As a Belgian I completely understand but I usually just ended up showing my pinky (for non-Belgians, showing a pinky = I want a beer please)

      1. AMT*

        I could have used this information in Brussels. Everywhere I went, the poor servers went through the French, no, Dutch, no, English routine. I should probably have worn white sneakers and a Yankees cap to save them the trouble.

        1. Parenthetically*


          At least you didn’t get the “immediate English” like we did in Germany traveling with my dad and his mid-calf-length white socks (it was fun seeing their faces when my dorkily-dressed dad would respond in impeccable German, though).

      2. JSPA*

        Aaand…now I have Tom Waes “dos cervezas” in my head, and have to make dang sure it doesn’t pass my lips.

        1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

          Why did you mention that song… good God, it’s gonna be stuck in my head all evening. Your fault if it keeps me awake all night ;-)

    2. Lexi Kate*

      My uncle’s claim to teenage fame through his nieces and nephews was to teach us how to ask where the bathroom was and order a beer in the languages he knew or the places he visited when he returned. “The 2 things in life you really need to know in any language”. I was a hit on a school trip to Spain.

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        My dad also says those are the two things you really need to know in any language! I wonder where they got it from?

  4. Annette*

    Call me old fashioned. But C.V. does not = the place for a map. List the languages you read (even Klingon if you must) but a map would read too cute to my eyes. Even condescending. I know where Sweden is! No thanks.

        1. Femme d'Afrique*

          That was exactly my thought: if the company doesn’t know where all OP’s languages are spoken, then chances are that knowledge isn’t necessary for the job she’s applying for.

      1. Amy*

        But has the speaker been to those countries? I speak French fairly well but having never been to Cote d’Ivoire or Senegal, I can’t be certain how well I’d do there with a different dialect.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          YES! THIS.

          I speak a decent amount of Mandarin, and I don’t know how well I can communicate in any given city in China until I say hi to the first local there.

        2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          English is the official language of Liberia, but I am quite certain I would have trouble communicating there. I’ve talked with an immigrant from there, except I couldn’t understand what they were saying.

        3. JSPA*

          Senegalese french is more perfectly classical than the académie française! Not incredibly widely spoken, but very well so.

        4. neeko*

          Exactly. This is a GIANT assumption to make that you can speak with people in a country just because you know the official languages. Dialects and patois are a thing.

        5. Observer*

          That’s totally true. What’s more is that a country can have an official language that is not spoken by everyone in that country. In the case of Haiti and French – yes French is the official language of the country, but it’s NOT the language that most people speak. In fact, by many estimates only 10% of the population actually speaks French.

          Spanish is another language with a LOT of variants, and there are some significant regional differences that mean that you can’t really assume that you are going to be ok everywhere that Spanish is spoken – although you’ll do better than someone who doesn’t know any Spanish. And, similarly to Haiti (though not so extreme), there are even areas in Spain where the primary language is not even Spanish. (Catalan is a real language, and there are areas where that’s really the primary language spoken.)

      2. LadyofLasers*

        Yeah my worry about the map is that you could quickly fall into a colonialism quagmire. If you only label France to represent your ability to speak french, then you’re erasing countless other countries and risk offending someone who comes from another french speaking country. But as others have said, if you speak french, English, and Portuguese, you’re going to be shading in much of the globe and the map ceases to be actually informative.

        Not to mention accounting for countries that have multiple primary languages: not only is it confusing which language you mean, you also run the risk of erasing historically important languages of that country. Eg, in Mali French is one of the official languages, but only ~20% of the population speaks it, and Bombara is spoken by 80% of the population.

        As I’m typing this, it occurs to me that this would be a really fun project to create a map that shows languages spoken by color! But it would be tricky to do well and not easy for a job manager to parse when looking at the resume.

        1. JSPA*

          But that’s exactly what OP is doing, and exactly the point: all countries where it’s a major enough language to get along in it, for business / outreach purposes. Seeing even 3/5 of the landmass of the world (by area) colored in as, “I can do business here” is powerful stuff. Especially for a company with modest and patchy international presence, but high ambitions.

          1. Observer*

            Except that in many cases, you really CANNOT get along in the language. To use @LadyOfLaser’s example – in Mali French is “spoken” as an official language – but only 20% of the population actually speaks the language. That means that it’s going to be hard to actually get along in French there. Haiti (with only 10% of the population speaking French) is even worse.

            It’s not only French with this type of situation, either.

    1. Tetra*

      I don’t know I kind of like it. Having a list of languages you can speak is impressive, but showing where in the world you can communicate freely sort of adds context to it. For example: you speak French, which is also spoken in many African countries – something an employer might not think of straight away. And when they can cover a lot of that map… that’s pretty awesome.

      I also think it shows something about the person’s personality in a way I like – that they view their language learning with that wide-scale context.

      1. Femme d'Afrique*

        Sorry, I meant my reply to be to you, Tetra! Point being, if the employer isn’t already aware that, say, French is widely spoken in several African countries, then it stands to reason that this wouldn’t be a job requirement. So yeah, it’s impressive but I’m not sure it adds anything to their candidacy.

        1. Tetra*

          That’s fair enough, yeah. I suppose I’m thinking more for when languages aren’t an actual requirement for the job but are just useful, or just an extra qualification that an employer might want to know. A job that involves interacting with lots of different people, for example, might not require more than one language, but ‘look I can literally talk to people from 1/3 of the world’ seems like an asset nonetheless.

      2. Argh!*

        A job application that educates the employer isn’t going to be welcomed. If they don’t know that French is spoken in parts of Africa it’s probably because they don’t do business in those parts of Africa, so they really wouldn’t care. The purpose of a resume is to show the employer how the applicant is a match to the job description. If map-making is part of the job description, bringing maps to an interview or creating a website full of interesting maps would be the way to go anyway.

        1. ChimericalOne*

          Just because they don’t currently do business in Africa doesn’t mean it’s not on the list of places they’d like to expand to. Plenty of folks find a visual more useful than a list. If OP says it’s working for her — that she’s gotten tons of positive feedback on it from friends & employers alike — then it makes no sense to advise her to ditch it.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I like it too!
        I can’t see it being a particular downside.
        I know that it would be an interesting aside to me; it would never make me refuse to interview someone who was a strong candidate based on the other stuff on the resumé.

        I’m imagining, what if I got a resumé with pie chart showing how much experience a copyeditor had with different types of copy (service journalism,; recipes; sports; fiction; technology or business news; catalog copy; charts, tables & graphs). I would find it a little interesting; I’d check to see how well it was formatted and whether the part I needed was a big enough slice.
        But I’d never refuse to interview someone with a pie chart if all the rest of their resumé indicated they would be a good candidate.

      4. neeko*

        As pointed up above, just because you speak the official language of a country doesn’t actually ensure that you can communicate with people there due to dialects, patois, creoles, etc.

    2. LawBee*

      Yeah, I would look at it, think “huh” and probably throw that page away, as it didn’t really add anything to the job application. It’s a Fun Fact but unless it’s relevant to the job itself, I wouldn’t include it.

    3. WellRed*

      A world map that fits on a resume seems as though it would be too small to useful except as an interesting visual. By interesting, I don’t mean it should be on there but it wouldn’t make me pass on the candidate.

      1. JSPA*

        You don’t have to see the countries; just see how much of the landmass is shaded in. A 1 inch by 3 inch graphic is plenty. Or stretch horizontally, and use it as a header or footer or section divider.

    4. Karen from Finance*

      On one hand, yes, I would also roll my eyes at this. But I think this depends on the area a lot too. In my country lately I’ve seen a high rise in these over-designed CVs that seem to be becoming the norm. People taking the “stand out” advice a little too much to heart, maybe? But anyway, certain folk seem to be eating it up, they love these type of graphics because it shows the person as “creative”, “original” and “memorable”.

      So again, I personally don’t like it, but it may be an acceptable thing in the area/industry where OP is.

    5. Not Me*

      You’re old fashioned.

      There are definitely jobs where a map or other graphics on a resume would make sense (like marketing, design, graphics, etc)

      1. neeko*

        Right, but if the OP is applying for a job that isn’t in those fields, it feels excessive and eye rolly.

  5. Maggie*

    It’s hard for me to not roll my eyes at LW1. She’s going to get called Mama, and Mom, and X’s mom a LOT over the next 5 years. Lighten up.

    But more seriously, LW1, here’s my advice mother to mother:

    1. Does this person have kids? While you might be eager to have strict divisions now, later you might be grateful for someone who will lend an ear about the difficulties of being a working parent.
    2. Yes, feel free to tell this person to call you Beth.
    3. If having other people thinking of you as a mother bothers you, start thinking about and planning your pumping strategy NOW, because this same kind of boundary crossing coworker might feel equally at ease to all you how pumping is going, which might make you really want to punch them.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Right, but she’s not going to get called Mom or [kid]’s mom at work – or at least she shouldn’t be. When it’s related to her kid, or around family, she can be Mama. But work should not be a place where she’s defined by her work status.

      I suspect this coworker will stop on her own once OP has been a Mama for a while, but its totally okay for her to want to shut it down now.

      1. Willis*

        This. I think Alison’s advice is right on target.

        Also, my read of the letter is that OP specifically dislikes “Mama” (vs. Mom or Mommy or whatever). She should totally get to pick how she’s referred to as a parent, at least among her family and other people in her life regularly. She doesn’t just have to get over being called something she doesn’t like! And sure a teacher or pediatrician or whoever wouldn’t know that preference, but that’s not really what OP was writing in about. (And I mean all of this as an aside…at work it totally makes sense to be calling her by her name regardless of what term she’d like her child to call her.)

        1. Willis*

          Although I guess mom/mommy/etc. would have the same effect of emphasizing her role as mother, so maybe she dislikes all these terms in place of her actual name. I think the conclusion is the same – it’s fine to request to be called by her name at work if she prefers, and to pick however she would like to be called as a parent in the future.

          1. matcha123*

            I think there is a difference between being called “mom” by your own child and being called “mom” in place of your name by adult peers. It’s basically taking her and saying “mom” is a separate person from “Beth” (who has been snapped out of existence when she became pregnant and replaced with “mom”).

            I also got the feeling that she dislikes this specific word.

            1. JustaTech*

              Some people have very strong feelings about specific words. If I called *my own mother* “mama” as a child I would get dagger-eyes and an arctic “do not call me that”.

            2. TheRedCoat*

              Yeah. ‘mama’, especially the way my coworker pronounced it, was like nails on chalkboard due to the local accent. I feel my entire back tense up when people (that aren’t my kiddo, who usually says ‘mamamamada’ at this point) call me it.

            3. Sam.*

              This. I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting your coworkers to start thinking of you as a mother instead of as their colleague.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I would dislike them all. The ONLY ONLY ONLY person I want calling me any version of “mom” or “mother” is my very own child.

          Someone could refer to me by my title when they are referring to me in my role–maybe the doctor says, “Let’s have Mom give you some Tylenol if your fever is still high,” or the aunt says, “What did Mom say?” before handing out candy.
          My MIL can call me Mom when she is speaking to me in my role, but even that, I don’t like. This is making me realize that I need to speed up my transition back to calling her by her name instead of her role.

          I feel pretty strongly about this. I get that people will do it, and I don’t need to get all ragey at them, but I hate it.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Yeah – I’d agree that calling out the woman in the Starbucks line is not worth the effort, but at work you can absolutely object to someone referring to you as mama (or any other ‘cute’ nickname you don’t appreciate).

        1. valentine*

          calling out the woman in the Starbucks line
          Totally worth it. It’s like killing a bug and leaving it in situ as a warning to its brethren.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yes—I don’t think “lighten up” is the right tack on this one. It’s totally reasonable not to want to be called “Mama” in the workplace. There are some cultural contexts in which this could be endearing, but even in those contexts, it seems problematic to reduce OP’s professional identity to “incubator of baby humans.”

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One would hope. But this winter I blinked off a halfdozen uses before I asked a repair tech NOT to address me as “Mami” — and my kid’s in middle school.
        (“Ma’am” I’d have had no trouble with, I earned those gray hairs. )

        1. DreamingInPurple*

          I don’t know if this is the case with your repair tech, but in the Hispanic community being called “Mami” has nothing to do with whether you are a mother or not, or even particularly your age, just gender. It’s a lot like “Honey”. Of course, it’s still not always appropriate because there are many times you wouldn’t want to be called “Honey” by someone either, but it’s really not a pointed thing.

          1. CMart*

            My 2 year old’s daycare teacher calls her “mama” which I find deeply weird but I know is a culturally affectionate thing.

              1. DreamingInPurple*

                Culturally it has a different kind of connotation, and tends to be used more as familiar than misogynist. If he quit doing it when asked, it’s pretty culturally tone-deaf to say he was out of line from the start.

              1. Amy*

                It’s very common in certain communities, especially Spanish speakers. Our babysitter calls my baby daughters “mama.”

                1. An Admin*

                  It’s also a Southern/Southern Louisiana cultural thing. I get called “Little Mama” (because I don’t have kids) or just “Mama” all the time and I never even questioned it until now.
                  I’m not saying that the OP shouldn’t speak up if she doesn’t like being called “Mama” by a coworker, just pointing out that the offender might be from a background where it’s not weird.

              2. Canonical23*

                We lived in the deep south for awhile as kids and a lot of our friends called their mother mama. My sister and I were pretty young during our stay there, so we picked it up and it slowly dropped off as we became teenagers and moved to the Midwest.

                1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                  My mother & grandmother both grew up in Texas, though they moved to CA sometime in the early 1940s. My grandma was always ‘mama’ or ‘mother’ to my mother & aunt, and my mother will always be Mama to my siblings and I. It would have felt really weird calling her “mom”!

      5. JSPA*

        The only person who legitimately can expect to call someone mama, and get a response, is that mama’s child. I’m a lot of things that I don’t respond to, if someone uses that descriptor in place of my name. Dads don’t get called “papa” at work, unless that’s their name or a chosen nickname.

        1. MizA*

          This. A man is not defined or identified at work by whether or not he’s sired children. Why then assume a woman should be? I loathe being called “Mama” by anyone outside the context of my child. It assumes motherhood is my most defining factor. I’ve worked hard within this career, and prefer to be called by the name I’ve done so under, thanks.

        2. nonegiven*

          I can’t call my mother Mother, Mama, or Mom when we’re in a store together. I have to call out her name to get her attention.

    2. DC Cliche*

      I had a friend who, after she got engaged, was called “wifey” by a coworker. Um, no. Not wanting to be called Mama in a professional setting is perfectly OK, imo.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One hopes that co-worker wasn’t aware of the Judy Blume novel of that name. It’s an extremely icky connotation. (TOTALLY not one of her Y.A. books!)

      2. TootsNYC*

        and also–she’s not HIS wife. I can see it might be cute if her husband calls her that affectionately, but a coworker is just no.

    3. LadyL*

      I think as a society we still carry a lot of patriarchal baggage around what inherent value a woman has, and specifically around the idea that a woman only has value/becomes much more valued once she marries and has children. Women valued as vessels, rather than people in their own right. With that baggage in mind, it can absolutely chafe to have your identity replaced from your name to your new role in life. “No no, you’re not Beth anymore, you’re a mama now! Your only importance is the fact that you now carry a child, and nothing else about you, not your intelligence or your personality or passions in life will ever matter as much as the fact that you’ve given us a baby.”

      Obviously this coworker isn’t saying all of that and surely has no intention of saying all that, which is why LW should use Allison’s polite and gentle script. But the coworker is one out of a million little messages along those lines, and it all stacks up into something really frustrating when you experience it regularly, so I don’t think LW is being unreasonable for being a bit annoyed. If it bothers her it bothers her, and kindly saying, “Hey, you can just keep calling me Beth” is a perfectly fine thing to say in response to any new moniker you don’t care for, no matter how well intended. And in general as a society, outside of feminism reasons, one really should only call people things they like to be called.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        I think it’s less internalized monogamy and more “welcome to the club”. I’d probably feel differently if it was non-mothers doing this.

        I fully agree with your second paragraph and Alison’s advice, though.

      2. Ann Perkins*

        This! This was an amazing way to describe why it’s ok to chafe at being called mama at work.

    4. Janie*

      Her boobs, and her decision on how to feed her child, were not mentioned in this letter. That’s a weird place to go.

        1. Janie*

          “I don’t like being called an awkward name by my coworkers.” “LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR BOOBS.”

          That’s… not a better place to go XD

      1. Reba*

        I don’t know, while I don’t agree with Maggie in this thread, I *do* think that a coworker who is comfortable calling you “mama” (before your baby even arrives! and in the 3rd person! what!) is very likely to also be comfortable asking invasive questions as pregnancy and parenthood progress.

        All the more reason to shut it down now! Practice upholding your boundaries on a relatively low-stakes issue! Good luck OP1.

        1. TheRedCoat*

          Yep. For me, it started with ‘how you doin’, Mama’ and ended with jokes about what they were going to do if I gave birth in the conference room, really specific questions about my birth plan, and questions about feeding/pumping when I got back.

          Yeah, cool, no thanks. My manager put the kibosh on that right away, which helped a lot.

        2. Maggie*

          Cycling back to add an update to my original controversial comment. I should have known this might have come across wrong, but I’m a working mother and wrote it at midnight. I’m tired, fellow readers!

          I definitely agree with all of the super smart, insightful things all of the other readers have responded with. OF COURSE Beth has every right and expectation to be seen as a professional at work first! OF COURSE Beth should shut this person down if they’re saying it in any way other than a welcoming ‘welcome to the club of mothers’ vibe, and also even then if she just doesn’t like it! OF COURSE saying lighten up is linguistic short hand for being dismissive of someone’s concerns and can come across as rude and minimizing of all of the challenges that working mothers have to go through. In my sleep deprived state I thought I made my sarcasm clear by stating “more seriously,” and then offering my most important advice. I didn’t. Oops.

          OP1, since you specifically have posted that “Yeah I’d prefer if we left my body and plans for feeding my children out of this XD,” I just want to quickly point out that your feelings here are VERY VALID and also may be COMPLETELY disregarded by your coworkers, even when your rights are supposed to be protected by law. I personally had a grueling breastfeeding journey, where I had big problems with oversupply and had to pump three times a day to avoid getting mastitis. I was completely unprepared for how much nursing would change my body; I couldn’t have quit nursing even if I’d wanted to! It took over my life for more than a year and I had to aggressively manage it to be able to maintain my professional career. Since I don’t know your job, I wanted to point it out to be helpful, since AskaManager has shown over the years that many work places/coworkers that cross basic boundaries (like not calling people by the right name) also cross boundaries with issues around nursing, such as walking into people’s pumping spaces without knocking. If I had a promotion for each time I had to navigate talking to a coworker outside the pumping room about “Why are you still breastfeeding? Isn’t your kid like 1 and a half?” I’d be CEO. I wanted to punch each and every one of these people, who were rude and invasive but simultaneously clueless and relentless. I initially felt like laughing because… well, unfortunately, I’ve experienced so much worse and someone calling me the name ‘Mama’ ended up being the least of my problems. I’ve had to ‘lighten up’ myself, deeply against my wishes, to prioritize my own income and not lose my mind. Good luck.

          1. Janie*

            It’s a little weird you insist on talking about breastfeeding when OP said they didn’t want any advice on that.

    5. KR*

      I totes get what you mean but I think it’s ok to be annoyed by someone outside of your family calling you Mama. It means they’re mainly thinking of you as “Beth who is pregnant” and not “Beth my coworker” or “Beth who’s amazing at TPS reports”. Sure OP is going to be called that a lot in the future but really she gets to have a say in who calls her that.

      1. KR*

        And regarding your first point she can still be friendly with this coworker going forward! A reasonable person won’t be offended and upset if she says, “Oh just Beth, not Mama. Thanks for understanding!” And they can still have a good relationship and talk about child rearing in the future if they both want

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          This! I know someone who did this same thing, they said “here comes the new mom or here is mama.” The coworker was not harsh but direct and said something like “If I did not give birth to you do not call me mama/mom.” The person was embarrassed but did realize I should not be calling people mom/mamma at work, moved on and continued to have a good relationship with the co-worker.

          1. OP1*

            Thank you for this! This is exactly how I feel about the issue (I only want my kids referring to me as mom/mommy/mama) and knowing that others have had to ask people to stop and it was okay is just all levels of reassuring.

            Having a new part of my life comes with new challenges and new joys that can all be tough to navigate :)

            1. Properlike*

              I have two older kids, and it still BUGS THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF ME when people address me in professional situations as “Mom”, as if that were my first name. I’m talking about doctor’s offices, orthodontist offices, teachers, even other mothers. “Here you go, Mom.” “What do you think, Mama?”

              You are about to be newly smacked in the face by a society that’s still surprisingly sexist in many ways. The clerk in the doctor’s office who asks your husband’s job and then says, “And you’re at home?” The nurse who says “You’re doing great, Mom!” in a sickeningly sweet tone. The school schedules that assume there’s always one parent at home, and who keep calling the mother first even if you’ve said they need to call dad first. Prepare yourself. Call it out. RESIST. :)

              1. OP1*

                I feel really strongly about resisting on this. People keep up with this behavior because no one calls them out on the subtle sexism and the low-key virtue signaling of calling someone a “mama”. It’s also deeply personal what people are comfortable with – I’m okay with a nurse at my child’s doctor appointment calling me “mom” – they are focused on my child, not on me. I’m okay with being “Little Jessamantha’s Mom” to people who are familiar with my child and not me. But especially people with whom I have a relationship, who know me as more than just my child’s mother, I’m more than “mom”. And I’m not their “mom” or “mommy” or “mama”.

                Anyway, rambling aside, I am looking forward to calling it out and resisting as I am able :)

    6. Akcipitrokulo*

      Hard disagree on lighten up. If it were as “small” a thing as “actually it’s Beth not Bethany” then it’s inapporpriate to say lighten up – and thqt’s before you add in all the other problematic issues.

      And getting your basic rights such to a place to express, should you choose to do so, is not related in any way to allowing people to call you by something other than your name.

      1. Aveline*

        IMHO telling a LW to lighten up is probably skirting violating commenting rules to be kind and take LWs concerns seriously even where you don’t share them.

        It’s also both ineffective and potentially ride.

        “Lighten up” is right up there with “don’t be offended” and “with all due respect.”

        These are linguistic shortcuts we all use. They help us process our thoughts, but saying the, to someone else often has the opposite effect of what we intend.

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen a case where someone was told to lighten up and it actually made them relax overall or reassess their stance on an issue for the better.

        So telling a LW to lighten up probably won’t actually make them do so.

        Finally, it is often rude. Why? It’s dismissive of the person’s concerns.
        Lighten up reads to me as = “This isn’t a real, legitimate concern or issue.” “You are being oversensitive”

        Between that and the enrolling, I think Maggie is being dismissive of LW’s concerns. It seems she feels they aren’t legitimate.

        To me, they are. Also, As a general rule, if something isn’t a legitimate concern, our dear leader is going to point that out and her advice. Where she doesn’t, we should always start with the premise that the letter writer does have a legitimate concern and it’s nit our job to be dismissive or if.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          +1 LW has every right to bristle at being relegated to nothing more than a child-vessel / child-carer. Child-carer is an important, rewarding role, but LW’s also a co-worker, a wife, and probably a ton of other identities and facets.

          I’d probably say, ‘It’s Beth, not ‘mama’, please’, so that the coworker knows what not to use, but otherwise Alison’s scripts should be effective.

        2. Aveline*

          One addendum:

          One thing I’ve learned in the past few years is that just because something isn’t a big deal to me/would not bother me does not mean that it would not bother others. That does not mean I have thicker skin or am tougher. It may simple mean I have a privilege that the other person does not have.

          While I can’t think of an example now, I would say I am socially coded as a white, cishet woman with certain privileges. The reality of that is, of course more complex. So I may have certain things said to me that might even be a compliment that might be an insult to someone else.

          Even then, I have things said as compliments that are ok in the individual context, but socially problematic. For example, “you are so pretty” or “you have a very womanly body” or “you are what a woman should be” might be ok in an individual situation, but when these things are said over and over again and others are measured against them, it’s wrong and harmful. Even though the people saying them mean them as a compliment and the people hearing them are pleased.

          There is so much wrong in society that we tolerate because it serves the interests of the PTBs. So much of it is well-intended and “nice.”

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            just because something isn’t a big deal to me/would not bother me does not mean that it would not bother others.

            This, this, THIS times a million! “This doesn’t bother me so it shouldn’t bother you” is profoundly unhelpful and dismissive. If someone’s bringing it up, obviously they are bothered, so just shrugging and saying “well you shouldn’t be” is completely frickin useless.

          2. TootsNYC*

            For example, “you are so pretty”

            Selena Gomez just gave an interview in which she said she really dislikes this, because while it does feel good, it erases everything else about her.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Ohhh this is so insightful! I’ve been wondering why it is that, anytime someone tells me to “let it go”, I feel like I want to hold it against that person for years, *even if I do let go of the original issue*. Now I know. It’s basically a more socially acceptable version of “what you’re saying is not important, sit down and shut up”.

            1. TootsNYC*

              actually, “lighten up” and “calm down” are ORDERS!

              Think, if you were upset, and someone said, “I think a lighter perspective might help you,” or “I hope you can find some calm in this.” That might go over a whole lot better.

              But “lighten up” and “calm down” are essentially bossing people around, and you don’t have the right to do so.

              1. Dankar*

                Yes, instead of calm down, I switched to “Let’s take a step back and look at this together.” So much better received, and honestly communicates what I really mean way better. You raise a good point about orders vs. suggestions–I’d never explicitly thought of it that way.

        4. LiveAndLetDie*


          It’s rude to tell someone to lighten up when they have expressed how they want to be addressed. Names and nicknames matter. Anything outside of what someone actually WANTS to be called is fair to call out and correct, and if they don’t like something they absolutely never have to put up with it.

    7. Lioness*

      LW gets to decide what she would prefer to get called. The coworker isn’t her child. There’s no reason for her to be calling her “mama”.

      1. Aveline*

        It’s fairly well established on this site that we believe that people have a right to determine what they are called, particularly when somethings sexist or reductive is used.

          1. Aveline*

            And I wasn’t disagreeing with her either.

            Just expounding on the point that this is protocol here.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s not really “site protocol,” though, just where the majority of commenters have come down on it in the past. Dissenting opinions are still welcome here and I do not want this to be an echo chamber (although in this case, I also believe the dissent is off-base).

    8. Aveline*

      WRT point 1, I hard disagree she should swallow this inappropriate behavior by the coworker just because that coworker might, at some distant future point, be useful.

      Maybe it’s just me, but that’s a transactional approach to manners and respect I can’t get behind.

      LW is owed the basic dignity of her name irrespective of how useful someone else might be in future.

      Are you really suggesting LW should accept something rude but easily remedied because someone else might, just might, provide advice ( that she can likely get somewhere else).

      Sigh. Yet again, women are asked to play nice and smooth things over because other people might be useful to us down the road.


      The basic dignity of a name is fundamental. It’s the first thing that’s stripped from us by people who try and diminish us.

      It’s the reason that oppressors give victims numbers of other non-name IDs. Prisoners, holocaust victims, etc. are stripped of the name as a step toward dehumanization. Deadnaming is also something I’d say is about controlling someone’s basic humanity
      The dignity of our own names, of how we identify ourselves, is basic and also bedrock. Those societies and individuals who don’t respect that are headed down a dangerous path.

      One of the first things I do now when I meet a child is to ask them how I should address them. You would be amazed how many adults failed to do this. You might also be amazed at how much a kid can open up if you provide them with that basic dignity.

      1. TootsNYC*

        One of the first things I do now when I meet a child is to ask them how I should address them.

        The little girl who shares a babysitter with the child who lives above us in our building is a little shy. I run into them all the time. I was introduced to her by her full name (think Josephine), so I greet her with that. Then the babysitter said, “people call her Jojo.” I said, “Oh, Josephine–have I been calling you by the wrong name? What should I call you?” She didn’t answer, too shy, but I’m going to see if, as she warms up, she’ll address it with me again.
        (Meanwhile, I still call her Josephine, because we’re not close; maybe that’s backfiring and making her think of me as a weird stranger, I don’t know)

        1. LawBee*

          You can say “can I call you Jojo” – which is something she can answer with a nod, and won’t have to talk. :)

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        All of this. Plus, if OP does need parenting advice or someone to commiserate with in the future, this one particular coworker is hardly the only person in the world who might be able to provide that. Even in the unlikely event that OP ends up alienating her coworker with a polite request to stop calling her “mama,” I’m sure she can find at least one other parent in her professional or social circle to talk to.

        The coworker might be hypothetically useful in the context of providing parenting support, but she’s certainly not unique in that sense – I’m sure OP can think of a dozen other people off the top of her head, who could offer that same support if this one person were not part of her life.

    9. MissGirl*

      Rolling your eyes is dismissive and condescending to someone. She’s allowed to correct this without it being a huge thing.

      It can done in a very simple and polite way. A coworker of my mother’s started calling her grandma when she announced my sisters-in-law pregnancies. She replied firmly but with humor, “There are only two people in the world who can call me that and you’re not one of them.”

      I can’t imagine this in reverse, calling a man daddy on a regular basis.

      1. Clisby*

        + to your mother. I could the OP borrowing this. “Oh, only one person gets to call me mama, and that person hasn’t been born yet.”

      2. Aveline*

        It seems there’s a lot of referencing to eye-rolling on this site lately. I’m not sure why. To me, it always reads as dismissive and condescending. Others may not have the same opinion. I’m sure they don’t since I’ve seen some otherwise kind commenters use the phrase.

        You know the Rock test? As in, would you say this to The Rock? I have the RGB test. When in doubt, would RGB say or do this? I can’t picture her actually rolling her eyes or saying it. I can see her internally eye-rolling.

        I’m personally trying to avoid phrasing that is (1) no offense/with all due respect/etc. (2) lighten up/eye-roll/don’t take yourself so seriously. Anything that tries to provide a cushion before saying something indefensible and anything that shifts the argument away from the substance.

        If the point of the conversation is to exchange ideas, these types of phrases tend to shut down that exchange.

        One of the selling points of this site is the wide variety of interesting opinions. I don’t want to see that stifled.

          1. Aveline*

            Sorry, should have stated that it was Justice Ginsberg.

            She’s quite a cult figure in some US circles.

            1. Thursday Next*

              I think your original comment flipped the letter order, which is why I was confused as well.

              An RBG test is an excellent idea!

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          I have NOT heard of The Rock test, but I am very pleased to make its acquaintance!

      3. nutella fitzgerald*

        Now I have to make a map for my resume and label it “all the places someone can call me daddy”.

      4. CMart*

        My coworker became a father the other month, and I very nearly greeted him when he came back to the office after 2 weeks off with “welcome back, daddy!” The instinct was borne from how wild and amazing my husband found it to be called “dad/daddy” after we had our first child and therefore wanting to acknowledge this big life change my coworker just had.

        But as soon as the sentence formed in my brain the brakes were pumped HARD. Because no. Ew. No.

        I feel the same icky way when someone who is not one of my children calls me an iteration of mom/mommy. Including my husband. I am not y’alls mommy.

        1. TootsNYC*

          there are other ways to use that word with him: “How’s the daddy gig?”
          And then of course, don’t made “being a dad” be his identity–just something you say when he comes back.

        2. SOAS (NA)*

          heh. I half jokingly planned to say “Welcome back Daddy!” to my coworker when he comes back from paternity leave cz we have a running joke about it. BUT I wouldn’t because that’s a private/inside joke, and not something I want to say publicly. Plus he’s grossed out by it so I won’t say it but yea LOL

      5. TootsNYC*

        Or just say, “Please don’t call me Grandma. I like to reserve that for my actual grandchild to use.”

    10. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I think you’re the one that needs to “lighten up”. Calling a co-worker “Mama” is inappropriate. Would you call a soon to be father at work “Daddy”?

      1. Iris Eyes*

        This is a thing that happens. Although more often Papa in my experience. Granted less often than pregnant women as its generally less obvious.

    11. hbc*

      Speaking as someone who was massively annoyed by people who decided my name was “mama” when they knew me for years, my experience is that those who jump to that label had about zero overlap in parenting philosophy with me, and were therefore not great people to commiserate with. It’s kind of like two people talking about marriage when one is a “we are now One, we don’t socialize separately” person and the other is a “I love my spouse, but we’ve got our own lives” person.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      As a mom:

      My children’s friends called me Anna Mommy, then Anna’s Mom, then Mrs Jones. This was cute, because they were three years old so everything they did was cute.

      Other adults–their friends’ parents, my coworkers, etc–did not call me mama, or mommy. It was a very rare thing that always landed squickily from another adult.

      1. Aveline*

        My adult nieces and nephews call me ‘Auntie Aveline.” But they are the ONLY people who call me by a familial title. Even my stepson, whom I helped raise, calls me by my first name or a nickname I like.

        (If y’all watch CAOS, it’s like Ambrose with his Aunties).

      2. DaffyDuck*

        I find it squicky also, and I grew up in a family where my grandparents called each other Momma and Daddy. It was weird.

      3. JustaTech*

        When I was, oh, at least 25, I discovered that the name I used for my grandmother, which I thought was one of those generational things like Oma or Ma Mae, was actually what my mother called her mother, so basically I spent my whole life calling my grandmother “Mom”.

        That was a weird moment.

    13. Eeyore's missing tail*

      I have to disagree on the “Lighten up” as well. I’m 26 weeks along and to most coworkers I’m still Eeyore, but a few have started calling me Mama, Mommy, etc. I’m allowed to politely ask coworkers to please call me Eeyore at work. Just like I’m allowed to say there are certain things, like pumping, the state of my body, or the prince of tea are things I don’t wish to discuss.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        Not to discount your experience or frustration in any way – I’m really glad you’re enforcing good boundaries, that’s such an important precedent! But I have to tell you that I’m now also itching to ask my coworkers to call me Eeyore at work.

    14. Mimi Me*

      I became a mom at age 30. For 30 years I spent a good deal of time working on me and yeah, it bugged me to no end that all of sudden everyone I knew only saw me as a mother. Yes, motherhood is important, but it’s not all that I am. Motherhood didn’t suddenly erase me and I insisted that people call me by name. My kids are the only people who call me mom. There’s nothing wrong with OP insisting on this and even taking pride in this. Her life will change soon and honestly it might be important for her to know there’s a place where she’s still recognized as her pre-motherhood self.

    15. your favorite person*

      I’m 27 weeks pregnant with my first and a couple people at work have called me mama. It doesn’t bother me, but I wouldn’t do that to someone else and I think everyone has the right to be called what they want at work. I have drawn a hard line very early on that I don’t want people talking to me about how much I weigh, what I eat, how ‘big’ I’m getting etc. Body talk (during pregnancy but really ALWAYS) isn’t appropriate.

      1. OP1*

        It truly is amazing how once you are expecting, your body becomes a topic that everyone is invested in. I haven’t had to shut many people down – yet – but I am prepared to. It’s just not helpful or healthy.

    16. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Speaking as someone who’s been called mom for the last 26 years… uh, nope. That does not belong in a workplace. FWIW, I never had a coworker address me as mom or mama, either.

      1. Clisby*

        Me, either. I’m sure I would have reacted with a look of horror. I don’t like it in non-family out-of-work contexts, either, but at least those tended to be cases where my role as a mother was key to the situation (play group, pre-school, pediatrician’s office, etc.)

    17. Samwise*

      Stop rolling your eyes at LW1. Being called “mama” is not appropriate in the workplace and equally as important, she does not want to be called mama. It’s not her name, it’s inappropriate, and it feels condescending — even if that’s not the co-worker’s intent. People do all sorts of things without bad intent, or even with good intent, that they should not do, and regardless of intent, it’s ON THEM to cut it out.

      LW1, if your co-worker doesn’t pick up on the more gentle version AAM gave her after two times, the third time you have to be more stern: Judy. I asked you to call me Beth. Please do not call me “mama”.

      Fourth time. Judy. I asked you to call me Beth. Please do not call me “mama”. It’s inappropriate and I don’t like it. I need you to cut it out *right now*.

    18. Liz*

      This is such a rude comment and I’m annoyed about it.

      Your comment does not take into account that being thought of as a mother *in the workplace* is way different than being seen as a mother in the rest of your life. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t acknowledge that you’re a parent at work, but it really should not be front-and-center to the point where they replace your name with “Mama” and want to hear updates on your pregnancy before meetings! Are there any dads out there who were expected to share updates on their wife’s pregnancy before meetings like this, or called “Daddy” in this way???

      Also, I just really do not like this idea that because mothers are treated badly and disrespected they should “lighten up” about being disrespected because it’s going to keep happening. What?? If you’re so ~concerned~ about the “difficulties of being a working parent” maybe you can start with yourself and not eye-rolling at people like this.

      1. Mimi Me*

        The dad thing – I’ve been working for over 30 years and only once have I worked for a company where my co-workers threw a baby shower for a very excited expectant dad. I have lost track of the number of work showers for women.

        1. Autumnheart*

          If it makes anyone feel better about the progress of society, my department just threw two baby showers in the last month for male employees.

        2. your favorite person*

          We haven’t had a baby in the office in years, so now that two of us are expecting (me, a woman and a man) we are having a joint shower, which I’m happy about. I would feel weird if it was just for me.

        3. Ann Perkins*

          Oddly enough, I was pregnant with #2 while a male coworker’s wife was also expecting #2. He was thrown a baby shower and I was not. There was a turnover of office manager and his were opposite sex kids, plus theirs had medical issues going on, so I suspect that’s why, but the optics were not good.

    19. InfoSec SemiPro*

      Wow. I must have the world’s most considerate coworkers because absolutely no one at my work would replace my name with “mama.” No one calls men “daddy” at my job either.

      We have times and spaces to discuss parenting and being a working parent, but it doesn’t replace anyone’s work persona, just adds to it.

    20. MassMatt*

      I have worked with only a couple pregnant women but have never heard co-workers call them mom, mama, or any variation thereof, and would find it really weird. Is this a thing where you work?

      I certainly HAVE noticed people ask very intrusive questions of pregnant women at work, about their bodies, plans for parenting, medical issues, etc.

    21. AnonyMousse*

      Women have traditionally had a difficult time at the workplace being perceived as professionals. To me, being called Mama or being called anything diminutive/nickname-y that you did not sanction rings of some people’s inability to treat women as professionals first. Speaking for myself, I want to be seen in my work capacity first when I am at work. Therefore, I am vehemently against being called anything other than my name. It’s not abt lightening up, it’s about respect.

    22. Batman*

      Yeah, but her colleagues shouldn’t be calling her mom or mama. Or, frankly, any other adult that knows her well enough to know her name. At least if they’re speaking to her directly. If they’re talking to someone else or to some other kid and say “oh, that’s x’s mom,” that’s completely different than what’s happening in this situation.

    23. smoke tree*

      I think calling someone Mama or Mom if they are not, in fact, your mother, is quite patronizing. It annoyed me when people talked like this to me even when I was a kid (“Where’s Mummy?”; “Can I speak to Mum?”). I don’t think “X’s mom” has the same baby talk element to it, because it’s just a statement of fact. Of course, the LW also has a right to not want to be defined primarily by her reproductive status while at work.

    24. Librarian of the North*

      I completely disagree. And frankly, I’m not here for women being told to “lighten up” when they want to be referred to by their own name and not the status of their uterus. People ask my Husband about our child all the time at work, no one has ever considered calling him Daddy.

    25. learnedthehardway*

      I completely disagree that the LW1 should lighten up – it’s not appropriate for her to be addressed at work by a colleague or anyone else as “mama”. And letting this go has optics issues – if she’s perceived as comfortable with it, does this mean she’s more parenting focused than career-focused?

      Not to mention that reducing someone to the state of their fertility / parental role is quite squicky — if you wouldn’t reduce anyone else to their health or relationship status, then you shouldn’t do it to someone who is pregnant, either.

    26. AKchic*

      Being a mother doesn’t negate her personhood, though.

      I’m a mom. Multiple times over. It doesn’t mean I want to discuss the fruit of my womb at work. I come to work to get away from my (not so) little lust trophies. I have a name and if you aren’t one of my dependent indiscretions, I expect you to use my name. (and I say all of these insults with good humor, as I have two teenage boys with driving permits at the moment, with only one still too young to have a permit, and many more that are out of the house)

  6. KarenT*


    You mention they said you weren’t quite there with regards to being senior. Did they say specifically what was missing from your experience? It might be the size of projects you’ve managed, the level of autonomy you’ve had, or just your length of experience. If so, that’s really unlikely to change in four months. I’d try to get your manager’s feedback on why you weren’t hired as a senior and focus on working on those areas.

    1. Tallulah in the Sky*

      This. They didn’t just disagree on salary, the issue was on your title and experience. I’d take Alison’s advice, talk to your manager to have a better understanding what it takes to have the title and the pay you want.

      1. Aveline*

        It also may well be that this company has slotted LW into a position in their minds and won’t change.

        Sometimes, you have to move out to move up even where you have skills.

        It’s too soon for LW to know, but they should keep a watchful eye out. I’d also be looking at people in the company at the level I wish to be. Do they have more experience? A degree? What did their path look like? How do I compare?

        Also, if LW is a woman or minority, I’d be extra vigilant about the types of people who are senior leaders.

        1. quirkypants*

          I agree with Aveline but can’t stress enough that (a) it’s too soon to tell!

          Also, without knowing more about the areas where the employee was seen to be lacking skills, the specific job/industry, or what the LW’s company does, it’s also premature to know if it’s about their experience or something else like if they’re a woman or minority.

          I’ve been hiring lately and there are some applicants who had senior titles who wouldn’t cut it in our environment where things are very demanding, very technical, and entrepreneurial – more so than average given the roles people are filling. Being offered a senior job at one company is not always equitable to being offered a senior job in a different type of company.

          1. Aveline*

            Absolutely agreed.

            Being able to be senior at TeaPotCo doesn’t mean one can or should be at CoffePotCo.

          2. Butter Makes Things Better*

            Esp. when those other companies were deemed not to have the best environments by the OP. (Which would imply that their standards of operation leave something to be desired.)

          3. WellRed*

            Well said. We have several people at my tiny company of less than 15 who call themselves directors. They are directors of themselves in their one person “departments.” In fact, only three of us aren’t “directors.” A few of them would be in for a rude awakening if they tried to move to a company of size.

        2. Spreadsheets and Books*

          I just recently made this call. I got pushed into a box of being the one responsible for day to day tasks and wasn’t seen as a candidate for more responsibility, despite 2.5 years of positive reviews. Joke’s on them, the person they promoted into the spot I was angling for gave notice the day before I did. I felt bad for leaving the team in the position they were in with half the team gone moving into the busiest busy season but they kind of made their bed. I’m not sure if things would have changed for me with her departure, but it was time to jump ship regardless.

          That said, I agree with Allison that four months probably isn’t enough time to show that you’ve made the necessary progress to warrant a promotion. It may be truly too early to tell. It’s also possible that OP may be misinterpreting the requirements the team wants to see in those stepping into a senior role, hence the position she was given in hiring.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Hi, OP#3: I suspect you may be letting your bad experience with your recruiter color your perceptions of your current situation. Even if your recruiter hadn’t shared that information, there’s no guarantee that they would have offered you a position at a senior level. They obviously have a very specific idea of what it takes to perform in a senior role, and you don’t yet match that idea.

      Rather than asking for a promotion at four months, and thus labeling yourself as dangerously naive, have a frank talk with your boss about your performance to date and how you can move up in the company.

      You said that you like your job. When you talk with your boss, make it clear that you’re happy with the job and eager to move up. Be very careful not to let your frustrations with your terms of hire color your presentation. Happy, enthusiastic people are more likely to get promotions than resentful ones.

  7. Richard*

    #5 As a language teacher, I’d eyeroll pretty hard at listing Klingon on a resume, and hyperextend my eye rollers on learning that you got there with some Duolingo time. Duolingo is fine for getting some basics, but it’s miles away from realistic language use. I’ve completed Duolingo in a dozen languages and couldn’t with good conscience tell anyone that I had any more than a passing familiarity with them.

    1. Sherm*

      I totally agree. I took all of Duolingo in French…and I am nowhere near fluent. Please be careful specifying how well you know a language on your resume — your interviewer might know the language you claim (OK, not likely with Klingon) and start speaking to you in that tongue.

      1. Airy*

        If the interviewer DOES start speaking to you in Klingon, OP5, please update us. I’ve always wondered what Klingon job interviews are like.

        1. aa*

          ¨I’ve always wondered what Klingon job interviews are like.¨

          They probably involve duels to the death. You are interviewed by the person whose position you are aiming for, and it’s two go in, one comes out.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            “This one had the position.”
            (places head on table)
            “The position is now mine.”
            (walks out and starts work)

            1. Syfygeek*

              I so love this. I’m going to picture this during the next staff meeting to decide how to move up.
              And I can say “what do you want” and “welcome to the ship” in Klingon. But that’s my limit.

        2. Not Australian*

          “I’ve always wondered what Klingon job interviews are like.”

          Violent, I suspect. If you survive, you’ve got the job!

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          BRAVO – you win today’s shiny new internet!
          And it’s a darned good thing I wasn’t drinking my coffee when I read that.

    2. INSEADer*

      “As a language teacher, I’d eyeroll pretty hard at listing Klingon on a resume”

      Then you would be mistaken. It is an agglutinative language, just like Turkish. It is not easy to master. And so what if it’s an artificial language. Would you eyeroll at Esperanto, too?

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Agreed … also all languages are artificial ;) some are just deliberately created!

        1. QueenB*

          In linguistics we call them either “natural human languages” or “artificial languages” to convey that both are languages, but that some are natively spoken as first languages.

      2. Richard*

        Doing a few hours on Duolingo doesn’t not make you a master of anything. I breezed through Duolingo in Turkish and barely touched on any of the agglutinative features of Turkish. If the OP has completed the actual Level 4 Klingon language certification, that might be more interesting, but I’m not seeing that here.
        Also, mastery of a skill of very limited use (and nearly no professional use) that is essentially an intense hobby should always elicit an eyeroll. You’ve mastered juggling? Jai Alai? Making puff pastry? Irish step dancing? Unless these are actually related to the work being applied for, they should not be on resume and would be rightfully eyerolled. Natural language skills are only useful if they are useful for communication (Esperanto is only slightly more useful than Klingon); they are not meaningful as abstract accomplishments when applying for a job.

        1. INSEADer*

          “mastery of a skill of very limited use (and nearly no professional use) that is essentially an intense hobby should always elicit an eyeroll. You’ve mastered juggling? Jai Alai? Making puff pastry? Irish step dancing? Unless these are actually related to the work being applied for, they should not be on resume”

          This is the crux of the debate. Per my username, I have an MBA from INSEAD, where the career services office recommends including one or two lines with interests to add more color to your resume/CV. (INSEAD is a highly international school. They officially call them “CVs,” but they’re resumes in the US sense.) The only caveat is that “every INSEADer lists ‘travel,’ so shy away from that.”

          My own corollary is that if your hobby shows some level of accomplishment (i.e., “sold five travel photos”) it is worth including to indicate you are a results-oriented person. Mastering Klingon (and I don’t know OP’s level of fluency, of course) is an accomplishment. I would not list Klingon as a stand-alone language but with fluency in six real languages, yes.

          YMMV, as always.

      3. Thaleia*

        Not the commenter you’re responding to but as someone who also teaches languages (and is learning Turkish), yes, I would and do roll my eyes at Esperanto. I understand that it’s very in vogue on the internet to recommend that people learn technical aspects of grammar by starting with Esperanto, but why put it on your resume? It seems to me to demonstrate poor judgment twice over: 1) learning an artificial language to any degree of proficiency* and 2) putting something irrelevent on your resume.

        As someone who knows four or five dead languages, you wouldn’t catch me putting that on a resume for a job where it wasn’t relevant to the job duties.

        *This is a technical term. We both know exactly what it means. While modern languages often involve deliberate human shaping, there is an obvious difference between Spanish and Esperanto.

        1. Dr Useless*

          >As someone who knows four or five dead languages, you wouldn’t catch me putting that on a resume for a job where it wasn’t relevant to the job duties.

          As someone who knows about a dozen dead languages, they are all on my CV. I spent the last decade working on those skills, of course they’re on my CV. It may not be relevant to most jobs I’m applying for, but it gives people a pretty good idea of what I did previously and what kind of person I am.

          1. Aveline*

            But what’s the difference between a dead language and an artificial one?

            Neither are of use as a skill that one can leverage in the job. They are both accomplishments.

            Is it just that Latin reads educated and Klingon reads geeky?

            In other words, is there something other than our own biases that makes knowing a dead language an accomplishment worthy of a resume but making knowing an artificial one something else?

            1. Amy*

              I wouldn’t put Latin on a resume outside of academia either. However, it’s far more applicable than Klingon – medical terminology, botany, history, the fact that English is about 40% derived from French (aka modern Latin.) I don’t see a comparison.

            2. Someone Else*

              A dead language is more likely to come up in real life than an artificial one, especially an artificial one specific to a TV show or series of books. The context for that (show/book) is inherently smaller than a real actual culture that existed for a centuries, even if it no longer does, which left behind numerous real texts. They may both have small sample sizes in which they might be work-relevant but I still think pretty much any dead language’s small sample size of work applicability is still significantly larger than any artificial language’s.

          2. DreamingInPurple*

            Whether it’s a resume or a CV that you’re adding it to may matter also – if the format is longer and includes more comprehensive information as a CV tends to, it might present differently.

        2. Susan Calvin*

          Poor judgement? Putting it on your resume, probably yes. But learning it in the first place? That’s baffling. Would you look down on it less if it was Latin? Or do you also feel the same about other trivial pursuits like reading novels, gardening, keeping pets?

          1. Susan Calvin*

            Ah, apologies, missed the middle paragraph somehow. I guess that answers my question then. Still doesn’t make a whole lot more sense to me.

      4. Autumnheart*

        I’d eyeroll at any obvious reference to geek culture being provided as supposedly valid work experience. Putting Klingon on your resume as a “foreign language” is equally as silly as putting D&D on your resume as experience in “project management”, equally as silly as putting “CEO of Smith Household” on your resume when you were a stay-at-home parent.

        Don’t put unprofessional stuff on your resume.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          You think it was easy becoming a 25th level elf cleric? An accomplishment is an accomplishment! Probably shouldn’t put on the resume the chaotic evil bit, though.

          Next topic: my Joust and Millipede high scores. Let no one say that the 1980s was a waste.

      5. Close Bracket*

        Standard Mandarin is an artificial language. I’m pretty sure nobody rolls their eyes at it.

    3. Lola*

      +1!!! I am a fluent French speaker and Duolingo says that I am intermediate. Maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I’d say getting a DALF C-1 or C-2 level certification would be the most appropriate way to demonstrate language fluency (although those test are for French, I don’t know what the equivalent is in other languages, especially Klingon). I work with many people who put ‘French fluency’ on their resumes and when they actually end up in the French-speaking office, they struggle hard. Turns out they learned it in an academic setting and haven’t had time using it in an organic manner over a sustained period of time.

      1. Lucy*

        In my experience, the more of a language a person learns, the lower they rate their proficiency on a scale. Someone who has been learning a language since school and through university but hasn’t spent any time recently immersed/working in that language would cringe and say “intermediate” where someone with a shiny night school certificate would say “fluent”.

        And OH the difference between “fluent” and “native”. Why oh why do people think these are interchangeable?

        1. Lucy*

          (that’s not a snub against night school, by the way, just an example of a discrete and incomplete way of learning a language)

        2. Washi*

          I’ve noticed that as well! The word “fluent” is pretty meaningless to me, since I’ve heard it used for any proficiency from “indistinguishable from a native speaker” to “I can buy things in stores and restaurants.”

          My personal definition is that fluent = being able to participate in a lively group discussion and jump in to make a point or share a story without slowing down the pace of the conversation. (I think every language learner is familiar with that moment when you jump in to say something, then realize part way through that you don’t know a key vocabulary word, meanwhile everyone is quietly staring at you or finishing your sentences to help you make it through to your original point.)

          1. I'm the Blue Marble*

            I had an opportunity to do some extended work in Mexico and was excited that I could use this opportunity to improve my fluency in Spanish. Except that everyone I worked with wanted to practice their fluency in English with me!

          2. CmdrShepard4ever*

            I don’t know about Klingon, but also not all English/Spanish/French is the same. I grew up in the Midwest as a native Spanish speaker, on my resume I put native Spanish speaker. But if I were to apply for a job in Mexico or Spain I would not consider myself a native Spanish speaker, because what is native to me is not native to everyone else. I would probably say fluent, and/or explain what kind of Spanish I know.

            I recently went to Spain and I would say I was able to communicate just fine 95% of the time, but there were moments when people didn’t understand me or I didn’t understand them right away and we had to search for a different word to convey our meaning.

            So while I consider my self fluent/native speaker, I think that if I were in Mexico/Spain there might be times when I might slow down the pace of the conversation trying to find the right word.

            1. Lucy*

              … would you do the same for English if you moved between e.g. the US and the UK? I feel like you’re illustrating my point about estimated ability being inversely correlated with actual ability /grin/

              1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                I would if it were not clear on the application that I was moving from the US to the UK. For example if I had just moved to the UK and was applying for jobs with an UK address I would want to indicate that I was a native US English speaker. If I were applying for UK jobs with a US address and it was obvious I am not from the UK I would just list fluent in English.

                But I do agree on your point, it is similar to the saying “The more you learn, the less you know.”

              2. Liz*

                As someone who moved from the UK to the US but still has family in various areas, I’ve found myself speechless on occasion as my brain starts running through all the options and failing to identify the correct one for the current conversation. “…and as I put her in the…” [buggy? trolley? shopping cart?] ‘…THING…”.

      2. Overeducated*

        Yeah, the danger of putting languages on your resume is that someone will start speaking to you in one of them. Particularly high pressure if it’s someone higher up or a non-English speaking customer, in my experience. So it’s worth being selective based on your skills and comfort level for sure!

        1. Equestrian attorney*

          Yeah, this definitely happened to me once. We were having a normal conversion in English and suddenly interviewer was all “so, sie sprechen Deutsch?” with no warning whatsoever (German wasn’t a requirement of the job in any way, but I had listed it). Thankfully I speak enough German to respond on the spot, but he had lived in Berlin for 10 years and his German was impeccable. At the end he said he was pleasantly surprised that I actually spoke decent German and was going to recommend me to the next level (I didn’t end up getting the job, but that wasn’t the issue). I you don’t speak enough of a language to string together a few sentences on the spot in an interview, don’t list it on your CV.

          1. just a random teacher*

            This is also fairly common in teaching interviews if you list Spanish on your resume – at teaching job fairs I’ve seen those candidates directed to a different line to have a short Spanish-language interview on the spot as a a first screen.

            I studied Spanish all throughout school, can read informational text (signs, recipes, newspapers, instructions, assignment directions, advertisements, product packaging) just fine, sometimes without noticing which language it’s in particularly, and watch sports and some other programming on TV in Spanish (I like soccer, and around here it’s more likely to be on an over-the-air channel in Spanish than English). I do not list it on my resume, because I know I would not present myself well speaking it in a job interview and that I could not teach a high quality interactive [my subject area] lesson in it and answer reasonable student questions in Spanish at speed. It’s occasionally handy (particularly when students don’t realize that I can tell what they’re talking about and have off-topic conversations during class), but it’s not at proper “useful at work” level to be on my resume.

        2. Ralkana*

          This is why I say I don’t speak Spanish, even though I can understand it okay and speak it a little bit less okay. There’s nothing more flustering than grudgingly admitting that and then having a customer sigh in relief and immediately toss a complicated order at me in rapid fire Spanish. I’m almost guaranteed to get something wrong.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Ha, this has happened to me. At OldExjob, we had clients in Quebec. I had to call them a couple of times. The first time, they answered the phone in French and when I said “Bonjour, comment allez-vous?” to be polite, they immediately launched into French and I had to backpedal—“Aack, je ne parle pas Francais! Je suis desole!” Luckily we all got a good laugh out of it.

          1. Honoria*

            When I had to call a company in Quebec (toy store in the US with stock from all over), I would lead with, “Je suis désolée, ma francais est terrible. Parlez-vous anglais?” They were always very nice about it.

      3. cncx*

        Yeah, I have the DALF C2 and worked in French-speaking offices for 10+ years and i suffer from the mass of other people who put fluent French on their CV…Headhunters don’t believe me when i say I’m fluent and i’m like uh, the C2 uh ten plus years of experience then i start talking and they’re like okay sorry. i’m pretty sure i’ve had some of my CVs tossed before the interview stage because of all the other people who put fluent when they had like a couple semesters of French…

      4. Hermione at Heart*

        I recommended using CEFR terminology, even without an official test, upthread as a good and precise way to describe your language skills. CEFR is the pan-European version of DALF, I think, or at least the levels seem similar.

        (My last DALF had me at C1 but that was 5 years ago when I was speaking French much more frequently and in higher-level situations; I’m almost certainly B2 now and would do some intensive study before I ever applied for a job where proficiency, let alone fluency, was a must. And most Americans would still probably describe me as fluent!)

    4. nodramalama*

      I’d also be very wary putting languages on the CV from learning on duolinguo. I do not think you could really in good conscience say you’re fluent, or even intermediate at a language using that. I’ve done a few langauges on duolinguo and it misses a lot of the realities of being fluent, like being able to hold a conversation with someone.

    5. Amy*

      Apparently Klingon has 3,000 words.

      Compared with 300K in Chinese, 200K in Spanish, 170K in English and 130k in French.

      And it has no native speakers and doesn’t seem to have enough complexity to be any human’s primary language. “Language” is clearly a pretty broad term – we use it for lots of forms of communication including computers. But I think I’d feel a little eye-rolly if I saw it on a resume.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Until two years ago, there was no word for lawyer in the Klingon language. The inventor of the language happened to be at a Con where that word was needed. He came up with it on the spot.

        Knowing it can be used in the law now, I say put Klingon on in there with all the other languages. At least it shows dedication to learning new things. But ditch the map.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Is the Klingon word for lawyer just a synonym for “very sharp sword?” Admittedly I am not deep in the Klingon fandom but from what I do know Klingon’s tend to settle disputes via non-civil fights to death instead of civil litigation.

      2. AK*

        Be wary of any stats you find about how many words a language has – there isn’t really a reliable metric or source for natural languages. No source or corpus is going to contain all the words in a language, and different sources will often count words differently. These sorts of statements also often come from wildly different sources, for example one using an open contribution online dictionary, another an old printed dictionary, another a specific corpus of texts/recordings etc. Cross linguistically what counts as a ‘word’ is difficult to pin down as well – there isn’t really a definition that works in all languages. Sorry, I realize this is a minor point, and generally agree with you that it’s inadvisable to put conlang skills on a resume outside of some very specific instances. If nothing else it’s going to be difficult to self-evaluate your level in it, and since that’s also a problem with natural languages (and I suppose, with skills in general) I’d be doubly skeptical about their proficiency. And also, a resume isn’t ‘everything that’s interesting about me’.

    6. Jana*

      This is an important note, Klingon aside. I’m not sure what OP #5 means by “basics”, but it’s important to indicate your proficiency in each language you list on your resume. Otherwise, the implication is that you have a high level of proficiency. So, if OP is using basic to indicate a very bare bones knowledge of common phrases, etc., it may not be worth it to list those languages on a resume. (Unless the desired job qualifications indicate a familiarity with a certain language–then you’d indicate that you’re learning it.) If you want to express your zeal for language learning, but don’t feel comfortable listing languages on your resume that you aren’t proficient in, then your interest in languages seems like something you might add to a cover letter.

      1. Aveline*

        It’s also important to update this if you no longer speak a language.

        Many of us are fluent coming out of college and study abroad experiences. That doesn’t mean you will still be fluent 20 years on if you haven’t kept up the work.

        I have two languages I can still speak conversationally that I would not list on a resume. I used to be almost natively fluent in one. But I haven’t spoken it in decades and have no idea how my addled, old brain would respond to the challenge.

        1. Lucy*


          And that’s before you get into “I can follow documents in this language but I wouldn’t like to have to translate them and oh merciful heavens don’t make me order at the bar”…

          Reading/writing/speaking/listening/translating are very different skills, which is why they tend to be examined separately in any academic setting.

    7. BRR*

      Your comment made me realize that it might be import to figure out whether to include a language learned through Duolingo before deciding whether to include Klingon. I work at a place where many positions require fluency in multiple languages and I don’t think we’d accept Duolingo. If someone whose position doesn’t require any 2nd language skills uses it, that would be great. But I would be skeptical of a candidate if I learned that they listed a language and only learned it through Duolingo. (I feel like my comment might read harsh of the LW’s language and LW I don’t mean to criticize everything that you have learned. I’m envious of your ability to speak so many languages when I can barely handle one language).

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Conversely, I had only 5 years of high school French but over the years I’ve practiced whenever friends, co-workers, internauts and hotel/museum staff were willing. Five years ago I was thrown into the deep end of translations administration with proofreading…and I recently found myself conversing in French. Not *good* French mind you, but I’ve made my points, understood theirs, and even made a joke or two. My accent will be crazy though — so much for the Parisian accent they drilled into me when I’m working with Québéc & Belgium!

      2. AK*

        Yeah, I think the combination of “Duolingo” and “Klingon” fairly or not is going to read as ‘not very good language skills’. I think Duolingo is great for what it is, and I love conlangs and am probably more aware than most about how extensive some of them can be. But fairly or not (and honestly, I think it’s not entirely unfair) it’s going to sound to many people like you’re applying for a bodyguard position and listing that you know “Karate, Kung-fu and Krav Maga. And the Vulcan nerve pinch, which I also learned from YouTube”. The YouTube and Vulcan martial arts part is going to make people take the rest lest seriously.

    8. Madge*

      Just because the OP is learning Klingon through Duolingo, doesn’t mean that’s the way they learned all their non-native languages. I know their letter can be interpreted that way but it’s also possible they’re using Duolingo just for Klingon because it’s fun, free, and accessible.

      1. a1*

        This is how I read it, too. I was wondering why so many people thought all his language experience was via Duolingo, despite the fact that he lists different proficiency levels for each language.

        1. Richard*

          I didn’t assume that everything was from Duolingo, but he did mention that he was learning Klingon on Duolingo and considering putting that on his resume, saying that his proficiency is getting closer to that of his other languages. That implies an extremely low bar for putting languages on his resume, and does call the others into question.

    9. dramalama*

      I was looking for this comment, because my eyeroll was definitely for the Duolingo. I’ve loved it and used it for years, but as a fun and educational game. If somebody told me they spoke several languages on the same page as they told me they learned Klingon from Duolingo it would downgrade my expectations so hard I’d pretty much stop believing them right there.

      1. Richard*

        Agreed. Klingon is just questionable for its relevance to any workplace. Claiming proficiency for a language that you just did on Duolingo points to a profound lack of awareness into language proficiency, and casts doubt on all of the other languages listed.

  8. Maya Elena*

    To OP1, I would side with continuing to ignore it, until and unless you feel like the comment is intended to cause you harm or discomfort, or your boundaries are crossed otherwise.

    Among many other things, motherhood gains you admittance to a sort of global club that gives you instance solidarity and commonality with a lot of people across a lot of other social strata. “Club” might be a crass way to put it, but I think it gets the idea. I think expressions of that solidarity – which probably vary by age and ethnic culture – are good; if it costs you engaging in small talk and telling people your due date and baby’s gender over and over, I don’t think that’s such a high price to pay, and icy “my name is Beth; please don’t call me mama” (not that that’s what you’re contemplating) would have the effect of throwing someone’s goodwill back in their face, and create a little more ill will both towards you and your larger demographic (e.g., 20-something young women). I think this is particularly true if you are somehow hierarchically above the people giving you “mama” comments – e.g. a salaried “analyst” job vs. an hourly job, or a leadership position, or a known higher salary.

    I’ll also add, that this kind of mom-solidarity may net you a lot of support and social lubrication when you find yourself, as a mother, in a position of needing it. Because pregnancy – and children – will inevitably hamper your efficiency both at work and day-to-day activities (e.g., carrying things, walking anywhere fast), that social credit and support is important for lubricating those interactions. You will see it at the grocery store, in the airport, and of course at work itself. At least, that has been my experience, which is why I embraced these types of comments in my pregnancy even when they got cumbersome.

    Anyway, good luck and congratulations!

    1. Batgirl*

      Um..children shouldn’t hamper anyone’s efficiency, and no idea why it would affect female parents more than males. Aside from the baffling trend of getting paid less. And no one said anything about being in their 20s?
      But more to the point, even if the ‘mama’ co-worker is also a mother and this is a ‘welcome to the club’ thing; well then surely that club would want to know co-workers preference on mama being an annoying nickname same as her friends do?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Many couples still do not split childcare evenly — if nothing else, it can be difficult to get schools/doctors/etc to call the father first. My husband is listed as our daughter’s primary contact number, he works 3 miles from the school, my work phone is in another area code about 40 miles from the school — and the school nurse STILL calls me first. Explaining this every time they need a medications refill takes ME more time than HIM.

        1. NotSoNewMom*

          Ugh, yes. Getting the pediatrician to call my husband = impossible.
          Getting the insurance company to call me = impossible.

        2. Batgirl*

          But that is a direct result of being considered Mama or ‘parent is her identity’ rather than “Oh Mr Jones we couldn’t get hold of your wife. I’m sure we are disturbing your very busy job too much because your demographic doesn’t have a support club for parenting”
          I think it’s very different to take away someone’s name so they can become part of the put upon club than being a woman who supports women.
          The latter would wait for someone else do it and then say “Oh FFS Beth, my kids school is just the same; I can cover you though”.

      2. CMart*

        I mean, unless someone has the rare magical newborn, children dramatically hamper [mental] efficiency via sleep deprivation and [physical] efficiency by coming with 1,000 accessories and being tricky to cart around. Even at your most efficient with a baby strapped to your chest and a diaper and some wipes thrown in your regular bag you’re still not going to be as focused or maneuverable doing your grocery shopping as an unencumbered person.

        While I don’t know if I agree that cheerfully allowing yourself to be called “mama” when you don’t want to be is necessary, I do very much agree that having that foundation and network of solidarity and goodwill is so, so beneficial as a parent. The people who most often stop to lend a hand to me when I’m out in public with my children are other people with children – because they know what it’s like. It’s good to form those social bonds.

      3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        “children shouldn’t hamper anyone’s efficiency, and no idea why it would affect female parents more than males.”

        Let’s assume- as a thought exercise- that this woman is giving the baby up for adoption. She’ll still need six months to heal from giving birth…and that’s assuming she has a normal pregnancy with no complications on her end.

        1. CMart*

          Whoa, where are you getting six months from? Did you mean six weeks? That’s the normal amount of time it takes to be medically cleared from a pelvic/surgical perspective after birth. Many people recover much more quickly on all the other fronts. I wouldn’t have wanted to be bartending two weeks after having my kids, but I could have been back in the office (assuming I was not also caring for a newborn).

      4. AnitaJ*

        I mean…children and pregnancy maybe ‘shouldn’t’ hamper anyone’s efficiency, but realistically, they do for many (most) people. I’m due to give birth in two days and there are many things I cannot do physically. This hampers my efficiency. It’s just a fact. Even if I COULD bend over and put my own socks on, it would take twice as long as if I didn’t have a bowling ball attached to my abdomen, and it would be much less efficient than if I wasn’t pregnant.

        Can’t speak to the kid part because he’s not here yet, but yes, for many women, pregnancy torpedoes their efficiency.

      5. Nora E*

        “Children shouldn’t hamper anyone’s efficiency and no idea why it would affect female parents more than males.”

        Bwhahahaha! Hilarious.

    2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      Totally agree. This woman’s trying to be nice and I think OP correcting her is just going to make her feel embarrassed and alienated.

      1. Have Nuts*

        A genuinely nice person would want to know that their choice of nickname for a colleague AT WORK was inappropriate so they could fix that. Someone who takes it personally and gets “alienated” by a polite request to use someone’s actual name is not actually “nice”.

      2. Mary*

        Wait, if you were trying to be nice to your co-worker but inadvertently doing something they hated, you’d want them to just suck it up and feel embarrassed and awkward rather than politely let you know that they don’t like it?

        1. Lucy*

          Agree with Mary – currently LW is feeling embarrassed and alienated, so it’s coworker’s turn.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          This. I am okay being called both Falling and Fall, but Fa sets everyone of my nerves on edge. It may not be logical, but neither is some third party’s insistence that I just seem like a Fa to them.

          It’s okay to tell people who call you by a nickname you don’t like to please call you Guacamole Bob instead.

          1. Elspeth*

            Yep. You wouldn’t *believe* the number of people who decide that a two-syllable name, pronounced exactly how it’s spelt, is too taxing. “But you just look like an Elsie!” “Oh, but Ellie is so much easier for everyone!” No. That’s not my name. Use my *actual* name, please. It’s not hard.

            And those are actual legitimate nicknames that some Elspeths use, albeit ones that I don’t like. (Perfectly nice names, but not *mine*.) If someone was doing that to me based on something that wasn’t even my name, but an adjective that could be applied to me? *shudders*

            1. The Original K.*

              My name is two syllables. I had a coworker tell me (TELL ME, three seconds after meeting me) she was going to call me by only one. Think Kris for Kristine, though that’s not my name. I replied, “You may not. Call me [Kristine].” She was kind of floored, which I found even more off-putting, but she did what I said. I was thinking, you have some nerve!

              You (general “you”) don’t get to tell people what their names or their nicknames are. It’s not your call to make.

              1. SusanIvanova*

                My name has a space in it – traditional Southern double first name. Call me by only half of it, and it won’t even ping my “you’re talking about me” radar.

      3. Aveline*

        Lot of sexism comes from people who are just trying to be nice.

        Coworker can be a saint with good intentions and still be doing something wrong and harmful.

        Refusing to call someone by their name and reducing them to a nickname that they never ask for and do not like is harmful. Reducing women to motherhood is harmful. The fact that the person doing the reducing means it in a nice way doesn’t make it ok.

        1. LadyofLasers*

          +100000 Nice people can be sexist and racist because we are saturated in a racist sexist culture.

          Mommy track is a real thing, so there’s damage being done when her coworker is treating her as primarily a mother now. Hear something enough and it sinks in.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I really like this comment.

          At my previous job, I had two very well-meaning coworkers, on two separate occasions, pull me aside to tell me how impressed they were by the fact that I, an immigrant, was able to find and keep jobs in the US. I was (still am) working in the field that I have my 5-year degree in, been working in since 89, etc. and they were still surprised that I was somehow holding on to my job with my 15-20 years of experience. I said nothing to either of them at the time, because I was shocked, and because I was also a people-pleaser and didn’t want to hurt their feelings and they had obviously meant well. But honestly, now I think I should’ve nipped it in the bud – I was not the only immigrant in that workplace – and it probably helped none of us in their careers that some of our coworkers apparently thought we shouldn’t have been there and that we were only in our jobs by some miraculous act of god. I should have said something, for my other immigrant colleagues’ sakes, if not for mine. OP, you should say something too, for those same reasons. Nicely but firmly put an end to this “mama” nonsense.

      4. Harper the Other One*

        I sincerely hope that if something I was saying was bothering a coworker, that they would speak to me! It’s more embarrassing and alienating to learn that my coworkers think of me as so emotionally delicate that they don’t bring something like this up.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Thank you. In polite society if someone is doing something for reasons other than malice, we can politely say, “I really prefer to be called EPLawyer, not Mama, please.” It doesn’t have to be said rudely. But a quick mention will take care of the issue without it festering and then getting to the BEC stage.

          Alison always says use your words. Co-worker doesn’t know this bothers OP1 if OP1 just ignores it. Co-worker may think she likes it and is happy to join the Motherhood Club with her own nickname. Co-worker is not a mindreader.

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        When someone doesn’t like a nickname or pet name *OF ANY SORT* you politely ask them to stop using it. If they are polite they try and say oops if/when they slip up.

        It could be as simple as “My name is Elizabeth… every time you say Beth I look for my mother.” Or “I go by Elizabeth professionally, but if you’re uncomfortable with full names, the only nickname I’ve used is Liz.”

        *My name is none of these.

      6. MissGirl*

        It can done in a very simple and polite way. A coworker of my mother’s started calling her grandma when she announced my sisters-in-law pregnancies. She replied firmly but with humor, “There are only two people in the world who can call me that and you’re not one of them.”

        I can’t imagine this in reverse, calling a man daddy on a regular basis.

      7. Here I Am*

        Yeah, unpopular opinion, but I agree. I’ve never done it, but I did have a coworker who like being called mom or mama because she had such a hard time conceiving. She would say “yes I am, aren’t I”. Not everything is universally disliked or has an underlying commentary attached. OP should be referred to however she likes, but she should also be aware that social capital may be consumed.

    3. matcha123*

      I disagree with this. Being a mother doesn’t gain you entrance to any global club. If it did, we would have great support for single mothers…not stigmatism.
      The gesture of good-will is nice, but not everyone wants to be called “mama” or “honey” or “sweety” by other women. I think that is valid! To treat someone badly because they don’t want to be called by a nickname you forced on them is unkind. Especially if you think of them as part of your global team of motherhood. It’s really sad that people would treat someone badly because of that. Unfortunately, I have seen first-hand how some “mamas” act when other parents don’t fall in line.

      1. Aveline*

        Where I live now, these terms of “affection” are equivalent to the expression bless your heart. They can have multiple meanings.

        Older women often use these expressions to show affection and to signify that the person to whom they are speaking is lower on the relevant hierarchy.

        Sooooo many so-called terms of affection are really terms of power. Between spouses, a term like honey or sweetie can be a term of endearment, If an older female lawyer called me this, I think she was trying to put me in my place.

      2. Anonymous 5*

        YES. Yes to all of this but especially to your point about support versus stigma for single mothers.

      3. Aveline*

        This is excellent. I’m reminded of a woman who used to call a friend of mine “mama” at work. My friend let it slide because she had enough to deal with being pregnant. Turns out, this coworker was very cultish about certain things with how to be pregnant and raise a child. It was a marker of behavior to come.

        Sometimes, we let things slide because they seem minor. But then when things are escalating we push back, we’re told “but you didn’t object when I did X, so I thought we were on the same page. “

        American society has a real problem with telling people, women in particular, that we should let things slide because we value social cohesion. Of course, when things escalate and get out of hand American society also turns around and says “why didn’t you say anything sooner?

        We encourage people not to speak up for themselves but then punish them for failing to do so if the results are bad.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          (With the context of the Klingon linguistics subthread, I think this bit about “Mama” as an indicator of someone with whose parenting philosophy you will disagree, which has come up a few times, is interesting.)

          1. Aveline*

            I sometimes wish I could gather the commenters and hash some of these things out further over a bottle of tipple.

            Interesting indeed.

    4. hbc*

      The idea that there’s some unifying fact of motherhood beyond “I am a female-identifying person who has or had a minor in my care” may feel nice, but it carries with it a lot of assumptions that steamroll people who don’t fit the standard mold.

    5. Gloucesterina*

      I guess I don’t see the choice before the LW as:

      (A) Do you want work-appropriate communication that puts the emphasis on your professional identity and makes you feel welcome at work
      (B) Support for your identity as a parent.

      1. Gloucesterina*

        And I disagree that parenting means not being able to walk fast, carry things–for able-bodied parents, yes, a child may (or may not! for that matter) slow them down, but for parents with physical disabilities, they may already be navigating lots of barriers to access. I think it’s important not to imagine the default parent as visibly able-bodied.

        1. Emily K*

          Also worth noting that this is a remote job, so nobody she works with can see her walking or carrying things or offer to help her.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Among many other things, motherhood gains you admittance to a sort of global club that gives you instance solidarity and commonality with a lot of people across a lot of other social strata.

      not sure I agree:

      1) while I really did make a lot of new friends that were women with kids the same ages and genders as mine, and made similar new friends easier when I moved to new places, these friends now are almost all gone from my life – following huge conflicts and acts of backstabbing in some cases – because after our children grew up, it suddenly became clear that many of us had nothing in common with one another.

      2) mommy wars are by far my most terrifying memory of being a mother of young children

      3) an offshoot of (2), different classes parent differently, and a lot of the parents who have more resources at their disposal would not hesitate to crap on those that do not for not raising their children to the wealthier parents’ standards. (“What do you MEAN lil Johnny is not going to a horseback-riding summer camp? why did you even have kids if you don’t want to take care of them?”)

    7. TootsNYC*

      I think that a person can be part of “motherhood solidarity” and “the mom club” without having to put up with being called “mama.”
      No one has EVER called me “mom” or its variations at work, and few people outside have (the cashier might have asked, “did Mommy say you could buy that candy?”).

      And yet I still can call on support from other moms anytime it’s appropriate.

      Just say, “Oh, please don’t call me ‘mama’ anymore; I don’t like it,” and then remind her every time she forgets.

  9. designbot*

    #1 I’d deadpan like “oh, no. Don’t do that. It’s weird.” If you just act like whoops, she just did something super embarrassing, she’s unlikely to repeat.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, that would honestly be my reaction (and has been in the past, although not with this particular situation). Not so much in the “whoops, embarrassing!” vein but more like “ew, please no!”. Looking at it written down, it seems pretty adversarial, but if you say it in a light and maybe even funny tone, people usually perceive it well.

    2. Mookie*

      Yes. The key is not to sound like you’re apologizing for something or that you’re making an aberrant or idiosyncratic request; the weirdness belongs to the co-worker and you’re doing her a favor by giving her a friendly but firm Yikes.

    3. Auntie Social*

      Besides, you’re going to lose your first name soon enough. The whole world is going to start calling you ‘mom’. Savor the first name thing while you have it. That’s another reason for this woman to knock it off.

  10. Duck duck goose*


    Are you a polyglot speaking two languages fluently only?

    I do speak as many languages as you do (3 fluently, 1 semi-fluently, 2 basic) and I have never thought of myself as that. And I have a lot of friends/colleagues who know more languages at a higher level than I do. Just wondering, I never thought that knowing a couple of languages was something special, but maybe in the US learning foreign languages is not that common?

    1. Airy*

      In the US, and indeed in most English-speaking countries, being fluently bilingual is rare for white people. Unless our careers specifically require it most of us have no incentive to learn. It’s unfortunate.

      1. KR*

        This – not only no incentive but opportunities to learn a second language are usually offered much later in our public education or not at all. I didn’t have the opportunity until I was 14

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          There’s also a lot less chance to practice. Nothing helped my kids’ Spanish like a trip to Costa Rica, where they encountered plenty of people who did not speak English. But would bring you a smoothie is you asked in Spanish. (Younger child.) Older child got to practice future and conditionals like when will the office open tomorrow, with stakes that just never existed in high school Spanish class.

          1. annakarina1*

            Immersion definitely helps a lot, and I’m happy that your kids got more practice in being better with Spanish. I went to Paris alone a few years ago to practice my French, and I could get by conversationally, but also could understand people more by tones of voices/gestures/facial expressions, so I’d get the meaning more even if I only understand a few words. It helped a lot to have French in my head, and I could speak it without thinking much, like waking up during the night when my hostel mate came in and I asked in French what time it was, without even thinking about it.

            I read a lot of Spanish-language documents for my job, so my reading comprehension is good, but my listening still needs work, I only understand random words when hearing people speak Spanish around me.

      2. Square Root Of Minus One*

        European me thought the same thing.
        It sounded strange to call yourself a polyglot on fewer than four fluently spoken languages.
        If Alison or another recruiter reads me, I’d be interested if a basic (especially the Duolingo kind of basic) level in a language has ever made a candidate really stronger.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Yeah – my dad at one time had native Scots (yes, it’s a language not a dialect), English (very closely related and learned at same time in infancy), very fluent in Spanish, good competency in French and also had Latin. No, he wouldn’t have called himself that. I think he’d want at least near-native competency in a couple of other languages first.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          One thing that’s interesting to me is that “basic” could indicate conversational Flemish, but not the ability to create professional-looking documents in that language. Or it could mean you can read a newspaper but flounder as soon as the spoken language speeds up.

        3. MtnLaurel*

          It’s a US thing. Folks are impressed that I speak Spanish fluently enough to do business in and a bit of Portuguese. I think it should be expected, but there you go.

      3. Samwise*

        You know the joke —
        What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual
        What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual
        What do you call someone who speaks one language? American

    2. Marion Q*

      This is very interesting. In my country English is a mandatory subject since elementary school, with some private schools offering it since kindergarten. Religious-affiliated schools will also offer Arabic; certain prestigious high schools even make it a graduation requirement to be fluent in both (by using both languages in daily activities not only during class). Most people are fluent in their ethnic group’s language. Public schools are required to teach their local area’s ethnic language, and occasionally offer other foreign languages like Mandarin, French, or German. I’m not saying that these lessons make everyone fluent, but at least they offer exposure to various languages.

    3. Rez123*

      I do think it’s a diffeence between english speaking countries an others. We have mandatory 3 languages before we get out of elementary school and an additional one beofre graduating high school. And then the electives if we want. Also, I’ve completely forgotten all but 2 of those languages

    4. TechWorker*

      +1 that in the U.K. speaking 3 languages fluently definitely qualifies you as way better than most. My language skills are embarrassingly bad (I was near the top of the class when I studied at school but that was between 11-16 and I basically forgot everything since). My friends from other European countries, by contrast, speak at least 2 or 3 languages fluently and very often more. Part of it is probably to blame on education but lots of it also on motivation – if English is your first language you can often get away without anything else for business etc

      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        I think it’s not about US vs Europe, it’s about English speaking countries vs others. To communicate with both locals and many foreigners, you need to know your own mother tongue, other languages commonly spoken in your area, and English. For people in English speaking countries, all of those are English, so learning foreign languages isn’t so important. In many other parts of the world, the important languages can be three or more, as there are many countries in the world where there are several local languages.

        1. Mary*

          It’s definitely an English-speaking tendency, but that’s just part of it. Irish people learn and speak other European languages at much higher rates than English people, if not to the same extent as other Europeans. It’s very much Anglophone + the assumption that the world owes you and languages are unnecessary.

        2. Asenath*

          It’s not the English-speaking country that’s important, it’s that some very high population English-speaking countries (like the US) are in geographic locations that mean that much of the population can spend a lifetime – including vacation travel – without ever needing to speak a second language, much less a third or fourth. Countries whose citizens have much more exposure to multiple languages, like most in Africa and Europe, naturally have citizens who are more likely to learn many languages, both by natural exposure, and because it’s clear that learning languages in school is of great benefit.

          I’m from Canada, and although we are very small in population and very, very multicultural in large cities, we do have two official languages. In some cases (eg work in anything involving the federal government) bilingualism is a real asset, and many parents push for their children to have good education in the “other” language. But a lot of people are like me – I live in an almost exclusively English-speaking area, and in spite of all the education I had in French – I like to think I was quite decent in French at one point – but having not had the need or much opportunity to use French for some years, I’ve forgotten a lot. I’d probably say my skills are pretty basic, if that. Learning a language isn’t a one-off thing; if you have little or no need to use a second language, you lose the skill, even assuming you (or your parents) thought it was something you should learn in the first place.

          1. TL -*

            But even if you are a bilingual native English speaker, conversations will tend towards the language both parties are more comfortable with – with is usually English. I have a really hard time practicing Spanish organically because as soon as I struggle in Spanish, the person I’m talking to switches to English. Whereas most ESL speakers have more opportunities to practice because English is often the common language if native languages don’t match.

            1. Asenath*

              That’s true, too. I’ve experienced that sort of thing – I want to practice my French, the French-speaker wants to practice English, I politely give way, and speak English (suspecting as well that my French is worse than the OP’s English, so OP really doesn’t want to speak French with me!)

              But it also depends on where you are – if I’m in a more rural part of Quebec, I’m more likely to run into someone who is less comfortable with English than I am with French, while in a major city like Montreal, that is less likely to happen. It happens internationally, too. If I’m in a part of the world in which English is not usually spoken, it’s quite likely taught in the local schools – and many people, especially students, will spot a native English-speaker and think “Wow! A chance to practice with a real English-speaker” and I’m lucky if i come out of the experience learning more than “hello” and “goodbye” in the local language(s).

              1. it's me*

                Haha, yeah. When I went to Austria my Austrian friend informed me that people will want to practice English with me because it will be really obvious that I’m American no matter how good I think my accent is, yet at the same time people seemed annoyed with me when I just used English right off the bat once I figured they’d just switch to English for me anyway.

          2. Washi*

            It’s changing, but I found that this is true in a lot of Russia, outside the major cities. People learn other languages in school, but don’t have much opportunity to practice them, so never really get fluent. A lot of people wanted to practice their English with me, then realized about 2 sentences in that nothing in school had prepared them for this moment! I met many, many English teachers who had never been to an English speaking country ever, so there was a huge range of fluency even among these teachers. (Some were amazing, and some spoke English that was nearly incomprehensible to me.)

            Basically, if you have no reason to practice, it’s not very likely you’ll achieve fluency unless you put in a huge amount of effort on your own. Which is why learning a language exclusively from Duolingo doesn’t sound like it really belongs on a resume.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          When I lived in West Africa it wasn’t unusual to encounter a child of about ten who would go through 4 or 5 languages to hit on one that you both spoke. I now live in New England, and in our life at home this just never naturally comes up for my kids.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I have a friend who grew up in the south of Africa. I once asked him how many languages he knew and was shocked!! when he listed ten before he even mentioned English. I cannot even fathom knowing ten languages. How cool would it be!

            I grew up in Russia and went to a school that actually specialized in English – English classes started in 2nd grade and we had five classes per week as opposed to 5th grade and twice-a-week foreign language classes in the regular school – a lot of our teachers had actually done 1-2 years of internship in England after college – and even with all that, 35 years after graduating high school, only maybe two or three of us from my graduating class have a good command of English – all of us being people who use English every day for work/life. The rest of our classmates forgot all of it years ago. Sadly, my children’s knowledge of foreign languages is below the level of my classmates.

            1. Asenath*

              We’ve got immersion classes in Canada, which sound like your special school – although they’re usually in schools that also offer the regular program, especially in smaller centres. They’ve got good and bad aspects – don’t want to go too far off-topic with details. But you can still do well with the regular program, rather similar to the one I was in – starts in early elementary, maybe Kindergarten, and continues through high school as a subject in an English-speaking program. I think they have more oral French work, and better-trained teachers than in my day, though. A daughter of a friend went through regular core French in school, studied it in university (and took every opportunity to go on school trips to French-speaking areas), and is now working with the federal government in Ottawa in a bilingual position requiring production of written materials in both English and French. It is possible. It’s not going to happen for people who don’t have exposure to other languages, or who know they can get good jobs with only one language.

          2. Asenath*

            I spent some time in West Africa, which is a very complex area when it comes to languages and ethnic groups. People generally spoke their own language, the most common African language for their area, if it wasn’t their own; Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa were all often used as trade languages in different areas of Nigeria. They would also speak other minority languages from the area in which they lived – some of these would be fairly similar to their mother tongue, others, not so much. Anyone who had attended school learned English, varying from nearly unintelligible to fluent depending on how much they’d learned and which school they went to. Some also spoke pidgin, which has a lot of English influence, but sure isn’t English. And of course, Muslims would often have learned Arabic, and those living near countries in which French was spoken could probably at least get by in French…. the situation is so different from that of someone living in North America, with a much lower exposure to languages, that it’s hardly surprising that views how many languages a polyglot knows will vary from place to place.

            Another thing I noticed was that since most of these languages are picked up in childhood, there was an assumption that anyone can pick up a language just as easily, by starting to speak it. This is not usually the case for an adult, especially one without any experience in learning languages.

        4. smoke tree*

          I think it does depend on the specifics of the country. In Canada, it’s quite common to speak French semi-fluently to fluently, even in western Canada. Many public schools offer French immersion.

    5. Nonnie*

      It definitely depends where LW lives, and if speaking two + understanding more languages is rare where LW is, it should be highlighted, I’d maybe even consider leaving in the map. But where I currently live (in Europe) everyone out of the school system is fluent at least in three languages plus usually understand basics or more of several others, and calling that a polyglot and using a map in resume would seem out of touch.

      I think we can trust LW to know if their skills are common where they live and work.

      1. Argh!*

        The map seems like an insult to the employer to me. If they don’t know which country uses which language, it would mean that language is irrelevant to the job. If it is relevant to the job, they would certainly know where it’s spoken.

    6. Aveline*

      The definition is speaking “several” languages. That’s more than two, but less than many.

      To me, I’d say speaking 3 is iffy, but 4 to 8 is probably ok. Once you get into the 8+ range, it’s something else.

      And I think there’s also the “related languages” issue. I know a friend who claims to be a polyglot, but languages they speak are all from the same family group. Now, they are highly fluent in all of them. (Think Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian). It’s not quite the same as my other friend who speaks English, German, French, Russian, Mandarin, Swahili, and Maskókî (language of Creek and Seminole – I hope I got that correct) conversationally to fluently.

      One of the issues with my European friends who brag is that some of them speak a diversity of languages. Some of them speak 3-5 languages, but they are all the languages in their home country and the one or two around it. It’s better than the USA, but it’s not the same as being a global language traveler.

      (Not saying it isn’t an accomplishment, but just that it’s as bound in where one grew up as Americans speaking only English).

    7. blackcat*

      So as an American, whenever the someone finds out I speak passable (not fluent) French, they assume I’m Canadian. And people often remark on how unusual it is that I also speak passable (and worse!) Spanish. (And two romance languages really isn’t two separate languages in my book… half the of the Spanish I speak is basically using the patterns to convert from French).

      Multilingualism is pretty uncommon in the US. Most people take 2-3 years of a foreign language in high school, but many don’t learn much beyond that. And the high school level classes often don’t let people really learn to speak. My husband took Latin in high school and college, and so he did not have to take a modern language at all, ever.

      1. TL -*

        Oh I grew up in Texas and being bilingual in Spanish and English was incredibly common – and Spanish is such a useful language there that a lot of white people are reasonably capable in it as well. It’s not unusual to hear someone switch seamlessly back and forth..

      2. Femme d'Afrique*

        “(And two romance languages really isn’t two separate languages in my book… half the of the Spanish I speak is basically using the patterns to convert from French).”

        I’ve seen this crop up twice now and couldn’t disagree more. And I’m sure France and Spain would too. ;)

        1. iglwif*

          I can never decide if my knowledge of French (used to be very fluent, has deteriorated through lack of use), Spanish (was never all that great to start with), and Italian (very limited, mostly swear words, musical terms, and opera librettos) are mutually helpful or mutually antagonistic.

          I can understand a lot more Spanish than I can produce, and a lot of the time, when I try to speak Spanish what comes out is mangled French. Recently I was on holiday in a Spanish-speaking country with my child, and in groping for the Spanish for “my daughter” came up somehow with … “mi figlia”???? Twenty minutes later I was smacking my forehead because of course I know that “daughter” is “hija”, but it’s “fille” in French and “figlia” in Italian and Latin, so who actually knows at any given moment what my brain is going to push to the surface?

          So I think I’d say for me, the family similarities among Romance languages are broadly helpful in a receptive context (listening, reading) but largely unhelpful in a productive context (speaking, writing). That is, similarities help me make better guesses about words I hear or read, but tend to lead me astray when I’m writing or, especially, speaking because, as my mom puts it, practically any combination of letters looks right in some language! XD

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Yep, I agree here — flip the French and Spanish, and that’s me, and while I can maybe puzzle my way through the gist of a very basic French sentence, I certainly cannot understand a French speaker or have even the most rudimentary conversation in French! My voice teacher also used to get after me constantly for pronouncing Italian words as though they were Spanish.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I majored in voice my first go-round in college. Because of my dyscalculia, I had to do a lot of stuff by ear since musical notations, especially chord inversions, brought up pattern recognition issues for me. So I’d probably get the pronunciation right but the grammar would be the tough part. I had a lot of trouble with that in French classes. I could easily see myself saying a beautifully articulated but completely incomprehensible sentence, haha.

          2. blackcat*

            This resonates with me somewhat. I had a really hard time when I first started trying to speak a fair bit of Spanish (I could always order food/get directions/etc b/c I grew up in a part of California where I was around lots of native Spanish speakers). I’d open my mouth intending to speak Spanish and French would come out. At the time my French was very good (I’d say fully proficient, but not fluent. Like, I could have basically any small talk conversation and read Flaubert without a dictionary nearby, but not do a technical presentation). It was frustrating, but eventually I got passed it when I was really immersed in Spanish.

            That said, I never got to the point where I didn’t have to translate in my head with Spanish. But I did with French–basically I can hear in French without internally translating, and once upon a time I could do the same with speaking. But even when my Spanish was reasonably good, I always translated Spanish -> French when understanding and French -> Spanish when speaking. Eventually I figured out it was better to use resources for French speakers learning Spanish than English speakers.

        2. blackcat*

          What I meant more was that it was not the same effort as learning, say French and German. It’s much easier to pick up a second romance language than it is to do one from an entirely different language.

          (Fun fact: because I learned French first, I have a much easier time understanding Spain-Spanish than most other variants of Spanish. I don’t know exactly why this is–I think it’s accent related. I do fine with Andean Spanish because of my time in Peru/Ecuador, where I learned to speak it well.)

    8. Manders*

      I wish whoever coined the word ‘polyglot’ actually defined it at the time. This comes up literally every time someone tries to claim the title. How fluent is fluent? How many languages do you need to know? There is no agreement but my personal preference is 4 languages at b2+ level.

      1. Linguist*

        I agree. I speak English, French and Italian at C1+ and Russian at a shaky B1. My native language is German and I teach it. Learning languages takes boatloads of work not to mention some talent.

        People who call themselves polyglots and who can gabble a few rote-learned bits in half a dozen languages annoy me, as they devalue the skill and work others put in. You’re just not REALLY ‘fluent’ below B2, which is neatly defined as: “Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.”

    9. WellRed*

      If I lived in Europe, where I could travel fairly quickly and easily to a neighboring country where another language was spoken, and where people from those same and other countries visited where I was based, I imagine I’d have the opportunity to pick up more languages, even if just bits and pieces. In the US, it’s different. Though I did walk through the local mall once during tourist season and only heard Canadian French, no English.

    10. Hermione at Heart*

      It’s definitely an American thing. It’s fairly rare for Americans born in the US to American-born parents to master a language above B1 level on the CEFR (which I’m using as a reference point because it’s a specific and easily googlable). Even well-educated Americans usually have at most two years of college language training and language education at the K-12 level is often laughable.

      Most Americans’ idea of fluent — including those who speak a second or third language — corresponds to about a B2 on the CEFR. I can’t speak for non-European parts of the world, but most European kids learn their third language more thoroughly and with greater fluency than Americans learn their second.

  11. Willis*

    #4 – If your husband is considering sending the announcement as a nudge toward promotion, I think Alison’s idea of a personal note / thank you to Boss and Grandboss would be a lot better toward that end. I’d pay much more attention to that (and send a response) verus a generic announcement in the mail, which I may wonder was sent to elicit a gift or just forget about depending on when I opened it. Overall, though, these seem like passive ways of getting at the promotion. Maybe thats how things work in your husband’s company or he’s already had this discussion, but I’m wondering if it would make sense to talk to his boss more directly about it and cite the big projects he’s worked on and his recent degree.

    1. Yet Another Loser*

      Generally having a job-related degree will be of importance to the boss, and it would be weird not to tell it. It is seeking for promotion and pay rise and a very good and acceptable reason for that.

      Of course, generally there is the danger that the small boss will consider it a threat to her career, particularly if she does not have such a degree (though here likely not). If he does not tell it, they believe he fears just that, whether justifiably or not. Even worse, that may be a signal for him looking for a job elsewhere.

      I do not want to say what is the best way to communicate as that depends on the culture. Where I come from I would send a message when having the certificate at hands, maybe after all graduation parties (if not planning to invite them) so that it is not begging for a gift. In any case she may feel obliged to give a personal gift, particularly if there will be no pay rise, but he should not be embarrassed for that and not obliged for any counter gift.

      It also depends whether they knew he was studying for the degree and how much they gave support to it.

      1. Allison*

        If it was an MBA, I think this makes sense – I’m just hesitating a bit because it’s a college degree. If the husband was hired today at entry level, would it be required? It is for so many fields I’m failing to see it as a bump up rather than a leveler.

        1. OP #4*

          Yes, if he were hired today without the previous experience the degree would be a necessity. He was able to sidestep the degree part by having 20 years of experience. Now he has both.

    2. Triplestep*

      Also, keep in mind that some people view graduation announcements as merely an invitation to send a gift. I grew up in a family like this. You can’t really predict how people you don’t know on a personal level are going to perceive graduation announcements and gestures like it.

      On a related topic, although you didn’t ask about this OP: Your husband may not find doors automatically opening at his current job now that he has his degree. In my experience, except for something like an MBA (and even then) once someone’s impression at work is solidified, a degree obtained after they start that job does not change impressions much. I had a good friend at work who was laid off and devastated – it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to her. All the higher education she’d sought out on the job from which she was laid off opened doors for her elsewhere.

      Congrats to your husband on reaching this goal!

    3. Cat Fan*

      I don’t understand why a person wouldn’t just say to his boss by email or in person or on the phone, “hey, I finally just finished my degree!”. I think a normal conversation including congratulations would follow after that. It doesn’t have to be a special announcement on nice paper. If a discussion about salary or promotion does not follow soon after that, the person could just bring it up at their next review or other appropriate meeting with their boss to ask if the new degree can be figured into any of that.

      1. Asenath*

        That would seem normal to me, but in my part of the world, sending out formal graduation announcements isn’t really that common and might well be taken as a hint for a present. I’m trying to remember what I did – neither I nor my family ever sent out formal announcements of a graduation, but I finally completed my Master’s while working, and my employer paid a bit of the cost. I think I sent a nice email – and put a thank-you acknowledgement in my thesis. My degree didn’t contribute to promotion or pay, but I guess the employer thought it was beneficial enough to pay part of the tuition, for which I was grateful, and which I wanted to acknowledge.

      2. Washi*

        Yes, I was confused about that as well. I thought graduation announcements were sent to like, distant relatives who you are not in frequent contact with but might be interested to know you’ve hit this milestone. It would be weird to me if someone I already saw regularly at the office sent me an announcement instead of just telling me the news in person or via email.

    4. just a random teacher*

      Depending on office culture, it seems like getting a degree is the kind of thing that might get sent out by the “office social person” in the form of a picture of you holding your diploma in an email with lots of exclamation points. At a lot of places I’ve worked there’s someone who keeps an eye out for “life updates” kinds of things and tends to circulate them. (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen multiple people write in here about trying to get the office social person to stop doing that, but in this case it works in the OP’s favor.) Casually telling this office social person how excited you are to go to your graduation that weekend is all it would take to start that wheel in motion where I work.

      1. valentine*

        He can just meet with his boss to discuss advancement and mention it then or in the meeting request. What OP4 wants to do is social and won’t put boss or CEO in the desired mind-set.

  12. Yet Another Loser*


    I have been thinking about recruiting processes: more than often it seems that the recruiters are abusing their power. Their job is to find the best candidate, i.e. the one, who
    1) will perform best in the position, AND
    2) will have prospects for being promoted in more challenging positions within the enterprise.

    More than often it is not. The recruiters or hiring managers will rather ask
    – Who’s values are most congruent to mine
    – Who’s appearance if of my taste
    – Who will make my life easiest
    – With whom I could have a beer (or even something more intimate)
    – Who will be loyal to me in internal politics
    – Who will not be a threat to me
    – Who will not need training to start a job (and not want later to be a threat)

    The recruiting process also includes some abusive features. While the job announcements tend to be generic, unrealistic and overshooting, you are supposed to write a tailored, flattery letter, CV and other material in their preferred form, be available for a call or interview at time and place dictated by the recruiter, seek positive information about the employer just to impress, follow the routines, send thank you cards, not ask for salary, etc. Even worse, the recruiters take a license to tell blatant lies (company culture etc) that would never be tolerated for the applicant, though they expect you to tell how exactly you are similar to the ideal person described and to give standard replies to standard interview questions, just to impress.

    A good recruiter should do some work to find the best candidate for the task, not just who pleased her. Remember, the best candidates have the least experience for job seeking and all procedures therein.

    1. Colette*

      This is overly cynical. I’ve never heard anyone even hint at considering appearance (other than “were they appropriately dressed”), loyalty, or “something more intimate” than a beer. I’m sure it happens, but it’s not the norm in most places.

      I agree job postings tend to be generic and vague, hiring manager aren’t looking for a “flattery” letter, and candidates with good options don’t have to be available for calls or interviews if the schedule doesn’t work for them, seek positive information to impress, or otherwise try to weasel themselves into a job. Furthermore, good recruiters don’t deliberately lie while expecting the candidate to give standard answers just to impress. That’s a poor way to get a happy, productive employee who will stay in the job.

      If that is your experience of job hunting, I’d suggest you concentrate on giving yourself more options by building a good professional reputation and managing your finances so that you aren’t desperate for a job.

          1. Mother of Cats*

            I agree with Colette as well. I’ve secured work through recruiters in the past, and I’ve worked with staffing agencies and recruiters to place my nonprofit’s clients (who are long-term unemployed). They’ve never said anything about appearance, hanging out, internal politics, or anything of the sort. These have been professional, ongoing partnerships that have benefited our job seekers.

          2. Yet Another Loser*

            So you are telling me to rob a bank?

            How else can I “manage my finances” not to be desperate for a job?

            1. Jen*

              She’s obviously telling you to live within your means, so that you have an emergency fund and can weather being un- or under-employed for a few months without being desperate. Of course, that advice assumes you currently have a job, and specifically one that pays more than minimum wage.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I’ve used recruiters for my last three jobs and have had excellent experiences each time. None of what you wrote above happened. However, I think people need to realize it’s the nature of the industry. Recruiters have the upper hand so the bad or lazy ones aren’t motivated to do a great job for their candidates. It’s kind of like cable company monopolies; they don’t provide good customer service because they don’t have to.

    3. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I think the #1 job of the recruiter is to find the candidate that the employer will hire (which is not quite the same as finding the best candidate) and also the candidate that will last at least a few months as an employee, and preferably that will satisfy the employer long term. This is all about the compensation. The recruiter makes money only when the candidate is hired, and there is often a refund provision if the candidate quits or gets terminated within a few months of hire. For the sake of getting further business from the employer, the recruiter would prefer to have the employer satisfied with the hired candidates long term, because that improves the recruiter’s reputation and good will with the employer, and keeps new business coming from that employer.

      1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

        I guess I should have said: the recruiter works for the employer, not the candidate, and it’s the employer that pays the recruiter. At least, that’s been my experience, and I have dealt with a large number of recruiting relationships as part of my job.

  13. Freya*

    #3 I’m sorry but I don’t see how you can be performing at a senior level when you’re not in a senior role, unless you’re regularly taking on duties above your pay grade?

    1. only acting normal*

      Where I work this is the requirement for any promotion: we have to show ~1 year working at the higher level.

      1. Getting the Runaround*

        Here also. Great way to get extra work out of people, too, especially when the end of the year comes and there’s yet another reason for not being able to give the promotion after all.

    2. quirkypants*

      This is a good point!

      I’ve definitely heard from people who equate “senior” with being really good at the job they’re tasked to do. But in my industry, more senior roles typically require you to do NEW things and some of those things are actually quite different. I.E. Are you a good manager (not just good with colleagues and peers)? Can you put together the required budgets for your department? Can you negotiate with other teams/management/etc? I’m “senior” and sometimes I wish I could go back to simpler times, haha!

    3. doreen*

      ” Senior” can be used in at least three different ways that I know of . It can denote a supervisory position – the Senior Llama Wrangler supervises the Llama Wranglers. It can refer to the length of time that a person has been in a position, either compared to others ( if no supervisor is present, the senior Llama Wrangler is in charge) or for a set period of time ( after X years of service as a Llama Wrangler, your title is changed to Senior Llama Wrangler ). The third way is for Senior to refer to the actual work someone does ( which is sometimes related to the amount of experience). For example, Senior Llama Wranglers wrangle the more difficult llamas. With that usage, I’d expect the person to have handled the more difficult llamas without escalating to the Senior Llama Wranglers for some period of time before formalizing it.

    4. Super Dee Duper Anon*

      It really depends on the role and how the department is structured. My last job – this would be a very valid point. It was a large company and responsibilities were very clear cut and doled out by title level. The only way to do “more senior” level work would be to actually do something that someone else is supposed to do.

      In my current job, though, its very different. It’s a much smaller company and we’re a bit more fluid in terms of responsibilities. Here, doing “more senior” level work would just be working more autonomously or taking projects from a-z with little or no input. Head of the dept might say “I need x”. A jr person would probably need to ask a bunch of questions, then come back with a first draft, have that re-worked by dept. head, then they’d finalize and get approval, then they’d start the implementation process, but would need to run any issues or trouble shooting past the dept head. Whereas a sr person would be able to do the research on their own, turn in a finished product for dept. head’s approval, they they’d manage the implementation process mostly on their own, only involving dept head on truly tricky or complex issues.

      It really just depends what type of work it is and how it’s structured.

  14. AngryOwl*

    #1, I’d probably ignore it but I wanted to say I agree! It’s definitely a thing in some mom groups as well, to refer to each other as “mama.” My best friend does it and it drives me crazy, but I’ve never told her (and never will).

    1. LaurenB*

      It is definitely a Thing in mom groups. I see my friends all using it on Facebook – and these are women who have careers and definitely don’t see their motherhood as erasing all other parts of their identity. It’s mostly in the vein of “You go mama!” I find it terribly cutesy myself (along the lines of nom and yummy) and it seems overly familiar for a work environment, but it’s not so unheard of even among young self-proclaimed feminist women that some of the icy responses suggested here would even make sense.

      1. CM*

        I think “icy” is a matter of tone. You can say, “It’s Beth, not mama” in a light, joking tone.

        It’s also very different among friends / parenting groups than at work. In a parenting group, you’re there because of your role as a parent. At work, you don’t necessarily want people to focus on your personal roles as a wife, mother, daughter, or whatever else you are — you just want them to treat you like a colleague. Calling someone “mama” isn’t just cutesy at work, it’s a reminder that your pregnancy is now part of your identity. But it shouldn’t have to be. Like if someone breaks their leg, it wouldn’t be appropriate to call them “crutchy” for the next six weeks. You might mention it and ask how they’re doing, but you don’t re-label them with a new name that centers their broken leg.

        1. LaurenB*

          Exactly – it’s a matter of tone. I would just be light and say that I prefer not to be called mama. I wouldn’t jump straight to some of the imagined responses here (a deadpan “that’s weird”) because she might not even understand what you mean. It grates on me and I absolutely understand wanting to shut it down, but I definitely hear women around me call each other mama when they’re talking about being mothers. (e.g. “Yeah, I was up all night because the toddler was sick,” “Oh, poor mama!”)

    2. GreenThumb*

      Just curious, if someone is your best friend couldn’t you tell them you don’t like to be called Mama? I have no problem telling my friends I’m not a fan of certain nicknames, I just a very mild tone with something like: “I’m actually not a huge fan of [nickname], just a personal preference of mine!”

    3. OP1*

      I see it as a subtle virtue signaling. I think there is a subset of women who refer to themselves as “mama” or “mamas” – it’s a code for being a super, sometimes crunchy-granola mom and they use it as a way to make themselves superior to other mothers. At least in some social circles I frequent, I have found that to be true. Things like “you’re such a good mama” or “way to go mama!” ring more cloyingly that “you’re a good mother”. This is why “mama” makes me cringe, especially.

  15. river*

    (1) Do people ever find out a man is about to be father and start saying, “How’s Daddy feeling today?”
    I bet they don’t, not at work, or anywhere really. A woman is not subsumed by motherhood. Just call her by her name, ask her how she’s doing, like normal.

    1. Approval is optional*

      This. I’m amazed how many comments there are that she is somehow being unreasonable because she wants to put a stop to it.

      1. Mary*

        Yep—reminds me of the post from a few months ago about the woman who kept stressing that she was a mom in a professional situation, and there was a response that talked about the rural cultures where “mom” is an all-encompassing social role and means putting others’ comfort before your own, swallowing hurt, enduring discomfort and smoothing over social awkwardness: not just for your kids but for everyone in your wider community, and that there was a lot of status and self-worth bound up in that. I think the pressure on the LW not advocate for herself and her own name because it might cause a bit of discomfort for her co-worker is coming from the same place: you’re a mom now, your job is to make nice and swallow discomfort, don’t rock the boat.

        1. Confession time*

          Whoa. You just described something about my past that I’ve never been able to fully articulate.

        2. OP1*

          That’s actually not it at all, but I agree with the way that the title of “mama” is used as an honorific for someone who is ultimately all-sacrificing and puts everyone else’s needs above her own, to everyone’s benefit (which is not at all true in reality – it causes mothers to suffer silently).

          I feel no pressure not to advocate for myself – my question was on how best to do so without burning down professional relationships :)

      2. fposte*

        I think there’s only one suggesting that, and there look to be about two more saying “Eh, roll with it.” There really isn’t a nest of people all saying she’s out of line to be annoyed.

    2. Yet Another Loser*

      I have been said so, though mostly out-of-job contexts, by women (in Spanish).

      Please note, however, that the topic is not about men calling women with pejorative words but discussion between women. Discussions between men may be much more rude.

      1. Approval is optional*

        @river wasn’t talking about men calling women names: she/he was pointing out that men who have children are still seen as ‘Bob’ rather than a father at work – their parental status isn’t considered relevant. But on the other hand, some people think once a woman has a child, her motherhood is the most important thing about her, even at work, and they will address (treat) her as a mother rather than as ‘Jane’.

      2. TL -*

        But in Spanish, at least in Latin America, mama, mami, and mamacita are all terms of endearment you might use with a child or a friend or relative. And boys are often called papi, papa, or papito as well. (Though maybe mostly by women?)

        In American English, mama is used almost solely to refer to someone acting in the role of a mother, usually to a very young child. They’re not equivalent terms.

    3. Aveline*

      When we were younger, my husband was never addressed as dad or daddy by anyone other than his own son. Not once.

      I was only the stepmother and yet got called mom, mommy, and stepmommy as if I didn’t have a name. I was a role, not an individual.

      So much if a woman’s self-identity is recalibrated, challenged, or outright attacked while pregnant. Please let’s all choose to do what we can to recognize the woman and not the role. Calling someone their own name isn’t that big of an ask in that regard.

    4. Perpal*

      Hmmm…. I may or may not have said “hey dad!” to a coworker who recently had their first baby; somehow the LWs coworker’s exact phrasing is extra annoying though.
      I’m with others, it’s ok to ask someone to stop doing something that annoys you, even low stakes things, though for minor things it’s best if you do so briefly and with a lighthearted air. If it gets to be some huge list of things or is particularly invasive (like the coworkers trying to not wear patterns, or line up alternating by gender at the bus stop, or whatever it was) yeah no; folks are allowed to forget and/or go on about their usual habits. But most of the time I’d want to know if someone would prefer I not do something I’m doing. I can decide if it’s worth it to me to stop it; if it’s a nickname, usually I would want to stop it.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        Yeah, I’ve also heard the “dad” thing done right after someone has a kid, as a kind of congratulations rather than an actual nickname.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I said something similar in response to someone who told LW1 to “lighten up”.

    6. just my opinion*

      I mean… I would never do that solely because “daddy” is often used in a sexual way, where “mama” is not. But I do see your point otherwise.

    7. Grapey*

      (1) Do dad groups exist on facebook/reddit where one of the common mantras is “you got this, daddy”?

      (I do agree with you in general [as much as I can, not wanting kids] but there is a significant subculture of mothers that absolutely thrive on that identity that fathers don’t seem to want to engage in.)

    8. pcake*

      A male friend of mine announced his wife was pregnant, and from then on one of the guys and most of the women never used his name again – he was called daddy most, sometimes pop or papa. For seven months, only a couple people at work and myself ever called him Jimmy.

      By the way, when I was pregnant and showing, people I barely knew – checkers, servers, the mail man – all started calling me “mommy”. I informed each and every one “Excuse me, but I’m not your mother”. Probably not the best line to use at work, especially since I said it with a hint of annoyance.

  16. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    “[look of confusion] Oh, you mean me? But I’m too young to be your mother!”

    1. Airy*

      “Oh my gosh, I was so embarrassed at school when I accidentally called my teacher Mum. I didn’t know that still happened to adults!”

    2. many bells down*

      About 3 years ago, the museum had an exhibit opening party that featured a costumed character. I was asked to be the “handler” for the character – making sure she got her breaks, guiding her around since she couldn’t see out of the giant costume head, etc. One of the paid staff who was running the character’s photo booth for the event has, ever since, referred to me as “[Character’s] Mom.”

      I finally told her that since [Character] is gone, I’m now her mom instead. She’s still calling me Mom. She’s at least a decade older than me. It’s gone from annoying to kind of funny, at this point.

  17. German Girl*

    #3 You can absolutely discuss a roadmap to the senior title and pay in your end of probation meeting, but don’t make it sound like you expect to be promoted tomorrow.

    They hired you into the intermediate role, probably thinking that you’d be ok with that for a while, and if this were my place of work, they’d at least have to wait for the next round of budget meetings anyway before making any promises.

    But absolutely flag for them that you’re interested in getting that promotion and discuss what you need to do to achieve that.

  18. Anancy*

    For OP #1, I’d say something along the lines of “I’ve only got 4 months until I start hearing mama out the wahoo, I’d love to be Beth for these last few months!” (That would work for me anyway.). (And if this didn’t take, I’d have another, more blunt, conversation.).

    1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      I think LW should just let it go, but if she does want to talk to her coworker about it I think you’ve hit on the best script. Likely to end with a shared laugh instead of coworker feeling embarrassed and hurt that her overture of inclusion and friendship was rejected.

      1. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

        I don’t understand letting people do something that makes you uncomfortable in an effort not to make them uncomfortable. Especially something relatively innocent that the person would probably stop with no qualms if asked. Why does their comfort matter more than mine?

        1. Jen*

          Because you can’t know for sure that they would stop with no qualms, so sometimes you have to choose between a minor annoyance but a decent working relationship, and a strained relationship.

      2. Emily K*

        I think this is putting a lot of weight on how emotionally invested the coworker is in calling her “mama. It likely wasn’t some big pre-planned “overture of inclusion” that the coworker specifically chose to do in order to show acceptance and friendship – it’s probably just part of that coworker’s vocabulary among her peer group and she’s saying it without giving it much thought. This isn’t akin to rejecting a handpicked gift or something where a lot of thought went into giving it.

        I work with a Matthew who doesn’t want to be called Matt. At one point a few months in I referred to him as Matt without really thinking too hard about it, just that most of the other Matthews in my life also answer to Matt and I had reached a level of familiarity/comfort with him where shortening his name happened sort of naturally/unintentionally. He told me, “I actually have a thing about being called Matt – could you just call me Matthew?” He said it in a calm tone of voice and I said, “Oh, sure, no problem!” and have called him Matthew since then.

        I wasn’t offended that he’d rejected my display of comfort and familiarity with him, or that he had disliked the way I called him. I didn’t know better, but now I did, and he wasn’t mad, he just has a name he likes to go by. No big deal, no hurt feelings on either end.

    2. Emily K*

      I think this wording conveys that she just doesn’t want to be called Mama now, but it will be fine once the baby has come, which I don’t think is what she wants from her letter.

  19. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP5 – I’d include it if it were me – at the end of a list if 4+ mainstream languages (if I had them) or in hobbies if I didn’t (and had room for hobbies & interests section).

    But I’d drop the map. Not only is it a bit twee and potentially implying you think the interviewer doesn’t know where languages are spoken

    … but a map of where langauages in which you’re fluent are spoken, on which over a third is covered?

    Oh, you speak English then?

    Add in French and Spanish, and on a map, the only large areas noticably not covered would be China, Russia and Brazil.

    A map such as you described would tell me you have a lack of knowledge of the spread of languages. (nuqneH? … not this….)

    So yes to a quick mention… but no to the map.


    1. Square Root Of Minus One*

      It could also tell that the candidate knows they can play on how they present data to put themselves in a favorable light.
      Whether it would be an asset or give me pause depends on the context, but certainly I would interview accordingly.

      1. Carlie*

        I’m wary as well, because I know too many people who would scrutinize it. Why didn’t he mark this country if he knows that language? Why did he mark this country when that language is only the 5th most popular there? And so on… And then they are not paying attention to the rest of the resume, or thinking badly after tallying up the “mistakes”. If OP is a graphic designer or in another visually heavy field ok, but otherwise too much potential for it to go badly.

      2. Mookie*

        Yes. The map demonstrates, as Akcipitrokulo and you say, that the LW is willing to massage data and its visualization in a misleading if not deceptive way for his own purpose, even when the stakes are low. I’d find that off-putting (the Klingon itself not at all).

    2. Overeducated*

      Ooh, good point. The only non-English language I speak well enough to mention is Russian, but that covers some serious land mass! (Shrinking at the world’s greatest rate of language loss since 1991….)

      I don’t know if I could include Canada since I don’t speak French, though. Or Ireland! Depends on the rules of the map.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        If you go with “official language” then yes, Canada and Ireland count. As do most of the countries we invaded & colonised…

    3. BRR*

      Yeah I don’t think a map or graphics should be included in most industries. I’m wondering how it takes into account places where multiple languages are spoken. I was just in Greece and a ton of people speak English but since I don’t speak Greek would I shade Greece? I do think the LW could say something in their cover letter that references being able to speak languages for a third of the world. If it’s a language-focused position I also think Klingon could go in their cover letter as a way of showing they like and are knowledgeable about many languages.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        A third of the world still isn’t that impressive though! There are 82 states where English is an official language – and 193 in UN – so that’s 42% of the map for a native English speaker with no other language.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            True, but when Canada is one of them… ;)

            And was mainly replying to suggestion of putting it in the cover letter which, personally, I’d take as the number!

          2. Akcipitrokulo*

            Seriously fighting urge to get out map and start calculations…. but I do actually have to do work today…

          3. Akcipitrokulo*

            OK… so I had a break and had to know…

            Counting countries such as USA and India which don’t have an actual “official language” at all, but use English for legislation/legal documents…

            It’s not quite 1/3 of total landmass that has English as an official language – but it’s close at 28.6%. If you discount Antartica, it’s 31.6% :)

            (Caveats that this is rough calculation based on wikipedia.)

            (And I should probably not need to know details this much!)

            1. Square Root Of Minus One*

              I admit I laughed out loud when I saw your string of comments there.
              I’d missed the cover letter part. But *grumble* my objection still applies about 42% of the people *grumble grumble* :D
              I also apologize if I just sent you into similar calculations on population numbers.

        1. BRR*

          Personally, as someone without an ear for languages, I think it’s impressive. I would possibly have a shaded map at home. Professionally, I think it will help the LW to incorporate the languages in a way that strengthens their candidacy and I think there a better ways than including a map.

    4. LawBee*

      I was thinking this as well. An English speaker could color in a hell of a lot of a map without having to know any other language.

      Honestly, I think this falls into the realm of hobby – I don’t put my knitting and spinning on my resume, but if they ask how I spend my free time in my interview, I happily talk about it.

  20. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP1 – just a quick piece of reassurance – you are NOT being rude or mean or anything else if you say “it’s Beth thanks”, “name’s still Beth!” or even eventually “stop calling me that. My name is Beth.”

    And you’re doing other mums to be a huge favour too..

  21. matcha123*

    For OP 1, maybe a private message to the woman saying that “mama” is a word that irks you/you don’t want to be called?
    When I was a kid, my mom was fine with “mom” but would absolutely not stand “mother.”
    Personally, I have a seething, burning fire of hatred for “mama” (especially when women direct it to other women, ala: You got this mama! or We mamas gotta stick together!), “hubby,” “wifey,” “kiddo,” and “doggo.” Adding a “the” in front of any of those is especially cringy. But, I digress.

    1. Everdene*

      Yes!! As someone recently married noone has dared ask after ‘the hubby’ twice!

      The only thing I think worse than refering to a pregnant woman as ‘mama’ is ignoring her personhood completely and asking ‘how’s baby today?’ or similar.

      I, you, they, we are more than our relationship to others.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I think it’s more than just hating “mama” in particular. I would think most people wouldn’t go around calling a father-to-be “daddy” in the office. But yet so many feel it’s okay (based on the comments) for a woman to be called “mama” or any form of mother, instead of by their name? Calling someone by anything other than their name (or a nickname if they prefer) in an office setting is inappropriate IMO, unless you’re really good friends with someone and you have that type of rapport with them.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, I find the “just roll with it” comments surprising. To me, it’s very straightforward: call people what they tell you to call them. If someone is calling you something you don’t like, ESPECIALLY if it’s not even a variant of your name, tell them to quit it (nicely) and tell them what to call you. If they slip, remind them. If you are told “Please don’t call me [x], I prefer [y],” apologize, call the person [y] from then on, and keep it moving. This feels very straightforward to me. (I know it’s not that straightforward because there have been lots of letters here that are variants of “People call me x and I want to be called y,” and that one letter from that woman who thought that peoples’ given names were silly and she didn’t want to use them. But IMO it SHOULD be that straightforward.)

    3. Me*

      Yes. They have a good working relationship. This isn’t the office jerk or anything, so I’m not sure why the recommendations isn’t just a quick private ask. “Susan, it’s so nice you check in on me. I have this thing though with being referred to as Mama or mom. Can you please just call me Beth. Thanks”

    4. Exceler*

      Agreed. These kind of cutesy names are super cringy and everyone who using them seems to think they are far more clever than they really are.

    5. Workerbee*

      You are not alone. And putting that “the” in front always makes me think the person is trying to create distance between themselves and their spouse, doesn’t really like them, and/or is objectifying them (all this applies across genders). I always felt like an outlier about this since so many people do it.

  22. Charity Garfine*

    I’m not into star trek, never even seen an episode, so I’m surprised to hear that there is a complete klingon language! Its something that people can be fluent in? There are words for everything, verbs, etc?

    1. Meri*

      Pretty much. There’s even a translation of Hamlet, which I’ve been told works surprisingly well. Some nerds build robots, others build alien languages.

    2. Harper the Other One*

      There is an amazing book, “The Art of Language Invention,” by the guy who’s invented a number of languages for sci-fi and fantasy, including the languages for Game of Thrones. He argues that listeners can tell (even if it’s only unconsciously) when a language isn’t playing by any rules, so he creates full vocabulary and syntax when he makes one. It’s quite fascinating!

      1. Rebecca*

        I think Tolkien’s Elvin language was one of the first languages created for a fantasy novel (I’ve not fact checked that though, there might be previous ones) and it’s beautiful. He was primarily a linguist and based it on the old Celtic languages.

        1. Media Monkey*

          i was going to chip in with this. that’s why he started writing fiction wasn’t it? to showcase the language work?

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            In part – he also told / wrote stories for his kids, as bedtime stories, letters, etc., and they grew into the Hobbit. The desire to develop languages shaped The Lord of The Rings and The Silmarillion, but he also just liked to tell stories.

            (I might have an Ent’s elvish name on my license plate, and have a basic knowledge of elvish vocabulary… but I wouldn’t mention it on a resume. After reading these, I’m re-thinking the 2nd – 4th real-world languages, as I haven’t spoken them conversationally in years. I still read in one of them, but I may drop the other two.)

            1. Media Monkey*

              an old neighbour had a beautiful book of the letters he wrote to his kids from father christmas. IIRC he wrote them all year round and they were lovely intricate little stories about their daily lives.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Yes :) Mark Okrand, who is a linguist, created it. There’s a book on how to learn it (I’ve got a few words, but I’m not skilled in languages and gave up) but it has full grammatical rules, structure and vocabulary.

      Unfortunately I think it stopped being used in more recent films & tv – I’m pretty sure whatever the Klingons in Discovery are speaking isn’t the official one.

      But in the original crew’s films? yup :)

      1. Elf*

        Actually, Discovery does a much better job with the Klingon than any previous Star Trek series, because they took it much more seriously. Honestly, for Klingon speakers, many actors in earlier series do an embarrassingly bad job.

        I know the translator for Discovery (we were roommates at qep’a’ (the annual conference) some years back) and she is truly excellent, definitely one of the top five speakers in the world. Marc Okrand gave her his full approval.

        Amusingly, when Discovery first announced the translator, they called her “The top female Klingon speaker in North America,” and while that is entirely true, if we are going to caveat with both “female” and “in North America” I’m pretty sure I’m number two, which makes me sound much better than I am (definitely not fluent, not enough chance to use it)

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          The Klingon language was one of the few things I liked about Discovery in the first season. They did take it seriously and they helped to develop it further.

          It’s very similar to the creation of Dothraki and High Valyrian on Game of Thrones as well. Linguists will work to create functional languages because they know that the fans are paying close attention and will notice if you use the wrong word for door.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          Fun fact: William Shatner speaks Esperanto, and in 1966 was in Incubus, a horror film entirely in Esperanto. I have been told that Esperanto speakers criticize his pronunciation. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is more a function of his being a famous actor than of his pronunciation.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            I believe that he doesn’t actually speak it but learnt it phonetically? I think I heard that anyway. Kaj jes, li ne sciis kiel prononci esperantaj vortoj :)

  23. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    #4: As a non-trad graduate, I was kind of weirded out at the idea of even sending graduation announcements to *anyone.* Like, I’m in my late 30s and I did this for me, so what would actually be the purpose of mailing anything to anybody about it? I made a Facebook post and, since I used my work’s tuition reimbursement, sent an email to my manager and director letting them know I was done. They wrote back with nice congratulations.

    But snail-mailing formal announcements is a social thing, not a business thing, and generally is intended as a reminder to the recipient that a gift giving occasion has occurred. Not appropriate in the workplace.

    1. Overeducated*

      As someone who graduated at a traditional age, and then got more degrees, I also thought graduation announcements were a little much and did not receive many from others. They’re just not common in my family. But this sounds like for LW this is a bit of a passive aggressive reminder to promote her husband, which actually has more of a point than your standard announcement!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I did actually slap one together in Photoshop for my mother, because she was going through a “must scrapbook everything” phase at the time. Heh. And by “slap one together” I mean, imported a decent photograph of myself, typed my name, my degrees and the date on it, and printed it out at the drugstore.

        I’m pretty sure it’s probably still in the drugstore envelope in one of the drawers in her craft room. She’s moved on from scrapbooking to sublimating everything that holds still long enough.

    2. Mookie*

      This has come up before in AAM threads. One thing to keep in mind is that some communities do this more than others, and for a variety of cultural and socioeconomic reasons. But I’d hazard, in this scenario, that the LW and husband ought to abide by the employer’s prevailing practices, which may mean that they end up reserving their announcement for their social and familial circles alone.

    3. DaffyDuck*

      I graduated at traditional ages and didn’t send out announcements (HS, BS, MS). I did grow up in a community that sent out HS graduation announcements, but personally saw the price of ordering them as a money grab by the school/industry and I knew my parents didn’t have the money to waste. This was WAY before personal computers and printers. Shelling out the money for the cap and gown to walk in the ceremony was enough.

    4. WellRed*

      I graduated at 30 and sent out a handful of the college printed announcements to family who I knew would be pleased to get them. I am aware it might seem gift grabby (I can’t do anything about that) but I wanted to mark my damn accomplishment. I have not married/had kids/bought a house so no more announcements for me!

  24. Delta Delta*

    #4 – Graduation announcements, unfortunately, scream “give me presents!” even if the intent was meant to be just to share the information. That said, earning a degree is a great achievement and it would be really nice to share that with coworkers. Is there another way the information can be shared within the company (company-wife email? Internal website?) so people can learn about it but not feel pressured to give a gift? I mean, people might give gifts anyway because they want to, and that also seems okay.

    1. OP #4*

      I literally never thought about announcements being seen as a gift grab and I think now I wouldn’t push him to do it for just that reason.

      1. Delta Delta*

        True story: when I was a kid my parents got a graduation announcement in the mail from some far-flung relative. Let’s call him “Blake.” They didn’t know who it was, and actually called a couple of my aunts to see if they could figure it out. Finally a connection gets made and my dad commented that he hadn’t even thought of that part of the family in years. He sent him a check anyway! He said he felt like he had to!

        And for YEARS after that any time we were looking at photos and didn’t know who someone was we’d say, “maybe that’s Blake?”

        1. CheeryO*

          That’s a great story. Years ago, my dad’s childhood friend’s daughter sent him a birth announcement postcard, and he legitimately thought it was an accident. My parents hung it up on the fridge and referred to the strangers’ baby for years until someone thought to look the kid’s parents up on Facebook and realized who they were. I’m pretty sure my dad sent a years-overdue card and small gift – the guilt was strong!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        There’s probably a linguistic hole to go down with the secret agenda of auto-correct.

        (I have it turned off in Word but cannot turn it off in email, and it is hugely irritating. EE is a work term understood by everyone in the address field, you stupid program.)

  25. Bookworm*

    #5: Another Trekkie here and unless you’re applying to work at Paramount Studios or one of the other overarching production companies that are creating one of the new projects, I’d agree. I think some of the other mentions here (fantasy publishing) would be good but unless there’s a direct tie I’d leave it off.

    That’s really cool, though!

  26. Valancy Snaith*

    Considering that it’s Infertility Awareness Week, I would hope that people would recognize that calling someone “mama” when it actively bothers them is just one more way of saying that motherhood is the most important thing a woman can do, which is a damaging idea by itself. Women are more than their wombs. If a woman does not wish to be called “mama” by her colleagues, the only correct course of action is for her to request they stop and they should stop. I’m baffled at the number of comments saying she should just suck it up. She is not reduced to her reproductive organs, regardless of what she is doing with them, not should any woman be.

    1. Pikachu*

      Thank you. I have diagnosed PTSD from a traumatic second trimester loss, and starting every meeting with pregnancy updates would be my personal hell. In fact, constant pregnancy talk at work was/is a big contributor to my diagnosis.

    2. OP1*

      This is something I try hard to be mindful of, because I have friends who have struggled with fertility. The “how’s things going” updates really only happen on my immediate team, with women who aren’t in that position, and I keep things very “fine thanks!”, but if they happened elsewhere I would absolutely shut it down. You never know who is dealing with what.

  27. Knitting Cat Lady*


    Fun fact: Before I started day care and saw other kids call their parents ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’ I called my parents by their first names. Because I was copying my parents.

    There are regions of the world where the honorifics for women go ‘Sister-Mama-Grandmother’ and men have ‘Brother-Papa-Grandfather’. Each with the first name attached. A young woman would be Sister Jane, a slightly older woman would be Mama Jane, regardless of child bearing status.

    So, unless LW1 is living in one of those places her coworker needs to stop.

    The only time I have seen something similar happen to men was friends and family going: ‘Congratulations, Dad!’ right after their first child was born.


  28. Rez123*

    #5 I personally don’t mind a bit of fun-ness and personality on a CV. A list of languages and klingon at the bottom. That can be a fun little inoffensive addition. I think there should be more of that in general.
    The map seems a bit over the top, but sometimes grahics can actually look good so it’s hard to say without seeing it.

  29. MD2BE19*

    I generally take intent into account when I’m interacting with other people so I can’t imagine being offended by an excited, albeit awkward coworker calling me “mama” if I were pregnant. This is worlds away from the jerk who insisted on calling a letter writer “baby mama”. But then, it doesn’t bother me when the older lady who works in the cafeteria calls me “hon” either.

    Maybe I’m too easy going about this sort of things? But life is too short and I’m too busy to be looking for offense under every rock.

    1. Buzz*

      It’s great that you can shrug off things like this, but the LW isn’t some highly strung, oversensitive snowflake because she doesn’t want to be called ‘mama’ by a coworker just because she’s pregnant. No one should have to just accept a random nickname from a coworker if they don’t like it. I’m sure you, being incredibly easy going, would just let it slide regardless of what people wanted to call you, but if LW is uncomfortable she has every right to say something.

    2. BlueDays*

      You’re not easy going about this sort of thing, you just have different personal preferences and boundaries for work environments than the letter writer.

      I’m typically much shorter than my coworkers. If someone refers to me as “Shorty” or “Tiny” instead of my name, I’m sure they’re not doing it with the intent to be a jerk, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy to go along with it. Intent doesn’t matter. Kind of like how “huggers” insist on forcing hugs on people who don’t want to be hugged because they want to be “friendly.” Their intent to be “friendly” doesn’t make forcing hugs on people okay.

      1. Parenthetically*

        You’re not easy going about this sort of thing, you just have different personal preferences and boundaries for work environments than the letter writer.

        Ye gods, this is perfect. I want to hire a skywriter for this.

        Attempted enforcement of “chillness” through guilt-tripping, eye-rolling, and accusations (“looking for offense under every rock”) is the opposite of easygoing.

    3. Anonymous 5*

      That’s a wonderful stance to take (I do too, where possible). But it isn’t the point: the LW doesn’t want to be called “mama.” There are plenty of good reasons for this (some of which may not even be on her radar as reasons why) but the only reason that matters is that she does not want to be called by that nickname. She isn’t being unreasonable, and frankly she isn’t “looking for offense under every rock.”

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      You’ve missed the point. She didn’t say she was offended, she just doesn’t like it, and she has every right to ask the woman to stop.

    5. MsM*

      I don’t understand people who feel the need to say they “can’t imagine” a particular reaction when we wouldn’t be discussing the issue if the LW hadn’t felt irritated enough to write in. Not to mention that this really isn’t all that difficult to empathize with: you truly can’t think of any cutesy nickname that you wouldn’t be willing to tolerate on a regular basis from someone who a) knows your given name, and b) should realize that if they don’t know you well enough to know whether you appreciate nicknames, they should stick with what they were told to call you?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Part of the reason I READ columns like Alison is for the diversity of experience, that just because something hasn’t happened to me doesn’t mean it isn’t routine for other people. And vice versa.

        (My go-to example of this is how often I am asked for directions, compared to my husband who has an actual sense of direction. But he is a) male and b) very tall.)

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I don’t think it’s an offense thing either. It’s just that it’s one of those irritating microaggression sort of things that suddenly turn a perfectly functional adult into some sort of entertainment for someone else. It’s cute and friendly the first time … like the “Hi Dad” congratulations … just a quick recognition of a new status and let’s move on.
      But if the act of reproducing then turns into a constant fixation by anyone, it’s frustrating and distracting to the individual who just wants to get through the work day. Because actually, I’d like to get back to the TPS report, and not have to have you stare at my belly or call me names better left at home.

      Signed, someone whose boss interrupted a meeting to yelp delightedly and point at a particularly noticeable bellyquake when I was in the middle of a sentence.

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        Calling someone “mama” can also have unintended connotations of sexual objectification, like you’re claiming her as your girlfriend. Gross.

      2. TheRedCoat*

        Yeah. By the third trimester, when it seems like everyone has forgotten your real name, your BFF has changed your FB chat name to ‘The Incubator’ and every conversation is someone asking you when you’re due (the same day I was due yesterday, Fergusina, thanks!)…. it adds up to be really dehumanizing, and that’s on top of regular maternity and pregnancy stuff.

    7. fposte*

      But apparently you’re annoyed enough by her objection to write about it here.

      I think it’s fine to acknowledge that some things bug one person more than others, but you’re succumbing to the fallacy that your reaction is the right one and people with different responses are wrong.

    8. OP1*

      I’m not offended and never said I was. And I never said that I assume my coworker intends to offend me – on the contrary, she is one of the nicest, kindest colleagues I have ever worked with. It’s just a thing I would like to not be called for valid reasons.

      Apparently you’re not too busy to leave passive aggressive comments, though.

    9. Mr. Shark*

      I can see a one-time joke, calling someone mama or daddy when you find out they are going to have a baby, but referring to someone consistently like that rather than their name is just not really the right thing to do, and is not professional. I can see how someone would be bothered by it.

  30. Triplestep*

    #2 – I, too, am in disbelief over how poorly companies/recuriters can behave during the hiring process; the problem of ghosting candidates is a frequent topic covered by Alison here, with throngs of commenters chiming in that it’s happened to them at all stages of the process. Sometimes even after the word “offer” is used. The only recourse we have is to go to GlassDoor and post about it in the interview section. Recently I had the experience of finding others posting about their own ghosting by a company when I’d gone there to do the same.

    If anyone knows of another way to hold companies accountable, I’d love to know about it. I think we need to start naming names.

    1. Triplestep*

      One other thing: My recent job search involved a bit of a career change, and I thought I’d try my hand at recruiting in my field to supplement my income. The owner of a staffing firm I know was happy to have me help out. (Truth be told, I had encountered so many terrible recruiters during my search, I thought “I can do this better”. At the very least, I knew I could be more considerate.)

      I developed a second Linkedin profile for this consulting work, and not surprisingly the newsfeed for that profile is filled with posts from recruiters. Guess what they frequently post about? The problem of ghosting … candidates ghosting them! Recruiters are whining and crying all over Linkedin about this, admonishing candidates to behave professionally and not just go dark. There was an article making the rounds about how ghosting “hurts your brand” … you would have thought this would be about companies and their hiring practices, but no. It was written with candidates as the intended audience. As if recruiters and hiring managers haven’t been doing this to candidates for decades.

      It makes me want to post “Shoe is on the other foot now, huh?” and “How you like me NOW?” But I never even comment since it’s all so public.

  31. BlueDays*

    I had an interview recently where my answers to questions were interrupted 3 times by the hiring manager’s employees. Each time the interrupter asked if now was an okay time to ask a question, and then they discussed whichever issue for a few minutes. When they left, the hiring manager moved on to the next question without giving me a chance to finish answering the one that had been interrupted. I understand they’re at work and should be able to attend to emergencies, but they didn’t seem like emergencies and it made me feel like I didn’t matter and was just an annoying distraction. I got a rejection for that job and applied for another. The recruiter sent me a link to a list of written questions and an automated phone screening, but I haven’t been able to find the motivation to complete it since I know if I have to interview it’ll be the same experience.

    1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

      Yikes. I’m sorry that happened to you. Though the employees should have been a little more tactful if their questions weren’t that pressing, the onus is on the hiring manager for not shutting it down if it truly wasn’t urgent. I seriously hope he apologized, at least either after each time or at the end in an all-encompassing way. And that’s some pretty serious disengagement if he just moved on right after being interrupted without wanting to refresh his memory on what you just said.

      I sympathize if you’re in serious need of work right now, but I’d otherwise say you should feel like a bullet dodged for getting rejected. Imagine if his reasoning when making the decision was that your answers were too choppy (ugh).

      1. BlueDays*

        Thanks for the sympathy. :)

        Yes, they apologized after each interruption, but I would have expected them to tell their employees that they had an interview from 1:00-1:45 and not to interrupt, or should have asked them to come back in half an hour. I assume that’s what most employers would do? I don’t think I’ve ever been in an interview that was interrupted more than once before, and usually there aren’t any interruptions at all.

        It reminded me of the double standard for employers and candidates. If I’d stopped to take three phone calls or texts they probably would have just rejected me right then.

  32. Hiring Mgr*

    I like including languages if you’re fluent in more than three.. it shows some kind of curiosity or interest in learning i guess. Though for me it really wouldn’t make much of a difference either way in hiring. The Klingon is cute, but again for me it would be just be a nice little addition, nothing major.

    For the map, i would maybe substitute your map of languages for something like the visual of Billy from Family Circus’s comical path home from school, only it would be your career path up to this job.

  33. Elf*

    naDev thlIngan Hol wIjatlh!
    (BINGon not yIjatlh)

    toH, nuq DajatlhlaH DaneH’a’?
    tlhIngan jatlhwI’ jIH ‘ej mu’tlheghmeylIj vImughlaH

    (This is a real offer in real Klingon to translate phrases people want translated. I am not the letter writer)

  34. MicroManagered*

    LW5 I think putting Klingon on your resume is just the right amount of “gumption,” considering you have so many other languages on there. As others have said, I would not list it first, or alone, or as one of less than like 4… Assuming the industry you’re applying in values a little individuality/whimsy, I can see a potential hiring manager getting a chuckle and remembering your resume for that.

  35. plug*

    The Allusionist podcast just did an episode on this (Episode 95, Verisimilitude) and it was so interesting.

  36. Mbarr*

    #3 – maybe next time your negotiate, you could ask to do a review at 6 months to determine if you have proven yourself. I’ve done this once (I wanted a higher salary but they didn’t know if I could deliver on my work), and it worked out for me.

    I don’t know if that would work for promotions in general though – at big companies, promotions mean a lot of paperwork and proving that the company needs a higher level employee, etc.

    1. Super Dee Duper Anon*

      I’ve heard this isn’t a great route to take (though I can’t remember where), however I’ve had good luck with it.

      My current job offered me a salary on the very low end of my range. I asked if they could do a higher number. They said no. I returned with ok – can we write into my offer letter that we’ll do a review of my salary/responsibilities at the 6 month mark (because I was confident I’d be working at a way higher level than they were anticipating and would have stuff to bring to the table at the 6 month mark).

      They got back to me with a number between what I asked for and what they originally offered.

      I don’t know why they said no to my original request but we’re willing to budge when I requested that salary review, but I got more money sooner so I gladly took it.

  37. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    The amount of people who think LW1 needs to just “get over it” is amazing to me. She doesn’t like it, and she has every right to ask her colleague to stop. Unless you are super close to someone at work, people shouldn’t address each other by anything other than their name (whether it be first or last, or their nickname). Just because someone means no harm by what they say or do, it doesn’t mean they aren’t crossing a boundary. And addressing it is not mean or rude. I would address it one on one first, and if she continues, call her out in the meeting. “I’m doing fine Jane, but please call me Beth like I asked.”

    1. Exceler*

      Agreed. A lot of women don’t want motherhood to take over their entire identity, especially at work. This is a problem that a lot of women face when they become mothers and I expected the commenters here to be more sympathetic to that.

    2. Doug Judy*

      This. The OP doesn’t like it. Full stop. Doesn’t matter why, didn’t matter her coworkers intent, or if someone else would be ok with it. She doesn’t like it, end of story.

    3. NotSoNewMom*

      Some of the people I work with are unaware I have a child. I prefer it that way. At my old workplace, as soon as I was pregnant, people started viewing me as a mom, and they’d just want to talk about my baby. The emphasis on motherhood made me feel significantly less respected.

    4. E*

      Yes. Just like anything else that a coworker is calling you that is not your name. You have the right to ask to be called by your name. I’d suggest telling the coworker “only the baby gets to call me mama, at work I’m xxx”.

      1. OP1*

        I was pretty dismayed by the first person who commented on it, but the overwhelming majority has been supportive and had really great ideas! And I hope that those in the “get over it” camp might be able to see some different perspectives and learn from them, which they might not have if they didn’t post – or other people might learn from those comment threads as well. All to the good.

    5. Environmental Compliance*

      Yup. Just the same with forced nicknames. No, I’m not Eccie, I’m EC. Thanks. Oh, nope, sorry, I don’t respond to Eccie, I just go by EC. Repeat ad nauseum while thinking – how difficult could it possibly be to remember (technically three for my real name) syllables??? Especially when the Wrong Name of Choice is like 5???

      And a giant big ol’ Nopearoo to the individual that tried to call me Kitty for a while (corruption of a common nickname for my real name’s doppelgangers). Just….no.

      People can just be their names. We don’t need to try to force a nickname because of what they do/what they like/their parental status/their height/their hair color/or whatever other nonsense that for some reason someone decides is more important to call out that just the Person being Person.

  38. BIL Shame*

    #5 I’m on the fence with this. For me personally it would be an absolute no and I would consider other applicants over you based on my BIL speaking fluent Klingon and Dothraki, and my hatred of fake languages in general. However this is how my BIL has gotten recruited/promoted for most of the jobs in his adult life, and much to his enjoyment he is paid significantly more than me or my husband while having less education and experience (Easter was wonderful). He has also been working second jobs as consultants for fan fiction self made movies out of Japan and the Far East. In all sincerity I see his passion really taking on a new role and would not be surprised if he hangs up Finance work in the next few years and works solely as a “Fictional Language Consultant”. So while it may very well turn off some non-fans you might get find your people so to speak.

    1. MsM*

      Not to further irritate you, but I would dearly love to take your BIL out to coffee and ask how one wrangles that kind of side hustle.

    2. LaDeeDa*

      I cringed for you just imagining your Easter dinner!
      My question is- it has helped him get jobs outside of the “Fictional Language Consultant”??

  39. paxfelis*

    LW1, I would push back for a slightly different reason I haven’t seen addressed yet.

    Addressing someone in third person (or second person collective) is, IMO, condescending. “How are we doing today?” sets my teeth on edge, having witnessed it multiple times in a healthcare setting. “How is person-I’m-talking-about doing today?”, when addressed to the person being talked about, comes across to me as telling that person they are no longer a person, they are only that particular sub-identity.

  40. austriak*

    Congratulations on graduating from college. It is a big achievement; however, you are 45. You are too old to send out graduation notices. That is something that someone in their 20s does, not in their 40s.

    1. LawBee*

      oh, hard hard HARD disagree! It’s an accomplishment regardless of age. In some ways, its more impressive because he held down a full time job while attending school and financially contributing to his family, which most 20 somethings in college don’t have to do.

      There is no age limit on learning or improving oneself, and no end date on when you can stop feeling proud of it.

      1. OP #4*

        Full time traveling job, full time college student, and parent! We’re very proud of him! That’s why I wanted to send out announcements. But I do think after reading Alison’s answer, we will stick to just family for those.

      2. WellRed*

        Right?! It would have been easier to attend college at 18, and only attend college, with parents footing at least part of the bill, rather then attend part time at night year round while working full time and paying for every damn cent myself.

      3. Parenthetically*

        Absolutely agreed! I would personally be thrilled to get graduation announcements from an older friend or colleague who had worked his butt off to get a degree while working full-time and juggling family and travel and everything else. It’s absolutely worth being proud of and celebrating.

  41. DaffyDuck*

    I find calling the pregnant woman Mama at work to be both sexist and demeaning, I wouldn’t like it either. I grew up in a very conservative town and went to college so my life wouldn’t be limited to marriage and childcare (this is not to say a degree is necessary to have a career, but in the dark ages my 18-year-old psyche saw college as escape from the life I grew up in).
    In the 90s when I was pregnant a co-worker talking to me just assumed I would be quitting work as soon as baby #1 was born. The 90s! There were tons of working mothers in the 90s, I would even go so far as to say it was standard. That sent me pelting in to my bemused supervisor to assure him I was NOT planning on quitting, we needed my job to survive, and not to start headhunting for someone to replace me.
    I love my kids and if necessary would willingly do whatever it took to save them, but they are not the be-all, end-all and limit to my existence on earth.

  42. austriak*

    4 months is too early and is going to backfire on you if you do. If you already have a good relationship with your boss, ask them what you need to do to move up to the next level. Most bosses should respect that and like that you are looking to do those things.

  43. BlueWolf*

    #1: I have a coworker who calls me mama (like saying “Hey Mama” when we pass in the hall), but I don’t have kids nor plan to. I haven’t really paid attention to whether she says it to the other women in our department. It came off a little weird at first, but I just shrug it off.

  44. BadWolf*

    On OP4 — Is the lack of a degree actively holding the husband back? Like they hired him but discussed that not having a 4 year degree could be limiting? If not, I’d be a slightly concerned that people might be surprised he didn’t have a degree all this time and might think he needs to put in “more time” before getting promoted since only now he has a college degree (which might be lame, but people are weird).

    But if husband’s school status is generally known (maybe people chat about classes he is taking, etc), then it might be fun to self-celebrate. Bring in treats for the office (this is office dependent, of course, I work in an office where you bring in treats for things you want to celebrate like your birthday, etc).

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Ooh, that’s a good idea of how to do it! Treats for everyone, and while boss is helping themselves, mention to them that he appreciates (thing boss did) which helped him get there.

    2. OP #4*

      I wish I could do this! But the home office (and the CEO) is in Alaska, husband’s current work is in Texas, and I’m in Florida.
      And no, the degree itself is a bonus- not having it didn’t hold him back in any way, but having it looks better for the agencies that contract with his company.

  45. JustAnotherHRPro*

    to speak to #5 – a few years ago the FBI was looking for Klingon linguists. No kidding….i would LOVE to know why.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      I vote in full favor of someone writing a short fiction story about some event that required Klingon-speaking FBI agents.

      1. MsM*

        I’m pretty sure DS9 already did that episode, although Ferengi might’ve been more useful there.

        Seriously, though, I seem to recall that Klingon borrows some of its elements from Native American languages. Maybe they figured it’d be easier to train people who understood the syntax than to try and recruit already fluent speakers from a smaller pool?

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Yup, it borrows a number of structural elements from Athabaskan languages, which Mark Okrand studies when he’s not inventing Klingon ;-)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Chuck used it in an episode so that Chuck and Bryce could both secretly communicate and verify each other’s identities.

  46. 342g*

    #1: from the other side of things, i’d hate if every meeting with you started with an update on your pregnancy. i’d cut that out, even if you like it.

    1. OP1*

      I only announced two weeks ago, so I’m hoping it dies down and prepared to ask for it to stop if it doesn’t. You never know who is dealing with infertility, child loss, child estrangement, etc. and those things can be unintentionally hurtful.

  47. Jenny P*

    For # 4 I would scan proof of the degree and send it to HR so his file could be updated, and cc the direct boss to make sure they know about it.

  48. LaDeeDa*

    Languages and fluency – yes
    Klingon- NO, big fat NO, don’t do it. It isn’t a real language and is no interest to my global company. And if I am totally honest, listing it makes me question if you understand what is appropriate or not in the business world. That is a hobby, just like people who go to the Renaissance Festival and have elaborate costumes and characters. It doesn’t matter to work.
    The map- unless you are working in a “cool” and “trendy” industry, I can’t imagine it is conveying what you want. I would just list them.

  49. LaDeeDa*

    Degree for Husband– I would send proof of degree completion to HR, so they can update his information, and CC direct manager. If this is a large company they likely have a talent management system and if they are looking to build an internal project team, or recruit internally that information may come up in a search for qualified candidates.

      1. Artemesia*

        So tell people. Bring cupcakes or donuts to celebrate, just don’t send these out of date, out of touch and juvenile ‘graduation announcements.’

      2. Parenthetically*

        I think LaDeeDa is on the right track even if there isn’t an HR — send an information email to whoever handles employee records and CC his boss. And major congrats to your husband. What a great accomplishment!

  50. Light37*

    #1- I would be annoyed as well. I am a professional at work, not my hypothetical kid’s mama.

    #3- Don’t do it, especially if you’re still in your probation period or just coming out. It will come off as presumptuous and like you’re not interested in the job you’re actually in.

    #5- If I saw Klingon and a language map on your resume, I’d be pretty unimpressed. Unless it’s directly relevant to your career path, leave it off.

  51. Eeyore's missing tail*

    I’m amazed at the number of people telling #1 to suck it up and deal with it. If it’s a nickname the LW doesn’t want, then should be allowed to go by her name. I remember how upset we were with an office that insisted on giving a woman with a more international name (I think it was Indian, but I can’t be 100% sure) a nickname instead of calling by her name like she preferred. How is this different?

    And I appreciate Allison’s script. I’ll be using that the next time one of my coworkers or my husband’s coworkers calls me Mommy. Because, yeah… unless your family or in my support group, you don’t get to call me that.

    1. Myrin*

      “I’m amazed at the number of people telling #1 to suck it up and deal with it.”
      Do you mean in this thread? Because I see two people saying that and one kinda agreeing – that’s hardly an amazing number, especially not in a sea of, as I’m writing this, 362 comments.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep. There’s a weird pattern I’ve noticed over the years here where a couple of outlier opinions end up feeling like people like “so many people were saying X.”

      2. Eeyore's missing tail*

        Some of from this thread (and some I’ve seen in the past and am dealing with now). I was a lurker for while and I’m comparing some of the responses to #1 to past LWs who have written in about names. Maybe I’m not remembering, but I feel like there have been name debates, almost everyone sides with “call the person what they want”. There haven’t been as many saying she should suck it up, but based on how most of the comments normally go, I wasn’t expecting to see people say she should just deal with it.

    2. Jennifer Juniper*

      Ewwww! Calling someone “Mommy” at work makes me think of Norman Bates or Ed Gein. At best, it makes the person doing that sound like they have a fetish about being an adult baby or a little. Neither of which is a great look at work.

  52. CupcakeCounter*

    If is is only the one coworker who does this, may be speak to her privately and let her know that for some reason it is rubbing you the wrong way. “I know Lana really loved it when you called her that but I’m just not loving it. It’s my personal hangup and I know you are just trying to celebrate and be supportive but I really wold prefer to be called Beth while at work.”
    By having the conversation privately you aren’t calling anyone out or embarrassing them so (in theory) there won’t be any hard feelings if your coworker really was just doing this out of habit or some “welcome to the club” thing. Obviously this won’t work if it is half your team then you would definitely want to do it in the group setting the next time it comes up. “I would really prefer to be called Beth at work thanks. Now last month’s results showed…”
    If someone makes a stink I would say something about feeling out of control with all the changes your body is going through and your name and identity outside of creating a small human helps keep you grounded. Whatever wording works for you but I think the private message to the one coworker would be where I would start.

    1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

      I wouldn’t make it sound like a “personal hangup”, because it is not a personal hangup not want to be misnamed, or have your identity erased.
      The person who insists on giving someone else an unwanted nickname is being rude and inconsiderate, and even more so if they push back on the request to use/not use a particular name. They can deal with if if being asked to stop trampling on someone’s boundaries makes them feel uncomfortable, because it sure AF isn’t on the person whose boundaries are being trampled on to swallow all it all so the poor widdle boundary smasher never has to feel a moments discomfort.

  53. LaDeeDa*

    I do not blame letter writer for not wanting to be called mamma, and no one should be called anything they don’t want to be called. My first name has a common nickname, but I do not want anyone to call me that. I try to hint and say things like “Oh, only my baby niece who can’t say my name gets to call me that.” Most people get it, but there are always though few who don’t. If it continues I straight up say “I do not like being called nickname, please don’t call me that.”

  54. Artemesia*

    ewwww don’t send graduate announcements to anyone. They are a bit tacky for high school grads but for a middle age man to send them is deeply out of touch. People who care about you will be thrilled about the graduation and you tell them in person. Relatives and distant friends might receive an email or note letting them know. A boss — of course it is relevant to let them know since it is job related and so a note that indicates the graduation and how much the program has contributed to your growth in the job role is a great idea — but no ‘formal announcement’ reminiscent of aggressive hs graduation vendors. It feels like a gift grab; it feels immature; it won’t send the message ‘I am even better equipped to do a great job here.’

    1. Parenthetically*

      Wow, disagree on “don’t send graduate announcements to anyone” and HARD disagree that they’re “tacky” for high school grads.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This one is super cultural in the U.S. — some parts of the country/socioeconomic demographics see them the way Artemesia described and others don’t. I say this because I’m hoping to head off a debate on it; it’s very, very cultural.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Sure — I do remember a previous thread with this. I hope this isn’t nitpicky, I just think the language being used here and in other comments is super judgmental and needlessly harsh. There’s cultural differences and then there’s expressing disgust over cultural differences, you know?

        2. OP #4*

          In our social circle and families, people send announcements for everything- graduations, new babies, weddings, hey we moved, new jobs. There is no particular expectation for announcements. It literally never occurred to me that people would see it as a gift grab because this is how we communicate with our very large families where all the older generations don’t Facebook.

  55. Oxford Comma*

    Unless you’re going for a position in gaming or sci-fi or something, fluency in Klingon is probably best left off your resume and cover letter.

    The map would be an instant turnoff for me. I’m far more likely to be impressed by a list of languages. The map makes me think you don’t know how to write a resume.

  56. blabla*

    #3. I want to share two different experiences that relate to your situation. One was at my company where someone from another department transitioned to my department in a fairly junior role because she was interested in learning the ropes of our work (research). After 3 months, another more senior team member left our team and the new team member tried to pitch herself for that job. We told her she didn’t have the technical skills for that work yet. She responded badly with an ultimatum that she would only stay on in the junior position if we gave her a raise, and she ultimately ended up resigning in a huff. She had worked for the company for years but it really soured us on her because it felt like she had reneged on an agreement by seeking a promotion and raise so soon after switching roles.

    Now on the other side of the coin, I want to say that my husband was hired by a tech start-up that had some bogus policy about only promoting people into senior roles from within the organization. When he was hired, he was at an individual contributor title but was told that he would have opportunities to demonstrate himself as a manager within the first 6 months. The company held up their end of the bargain and within a year, he had received two promotions. This is just to say that in some very fast-moving industries, maybe some of the regular rules around waiting a year for a promotion don’t apply?

  57. Argh!*

    I think any fan-based “credential” should be left off a resume unless you’re very very new in your career and you want to show passion and a skillset that don’t otherwise seem evident on your resume. It’s the kind of thing you can mention at an interview if there’s an opening for it, though. I was a moderator for several years in the late 1990s-early 2000s for a message board that could get very heated. It wasn’t fan-based, but it also had nothing to do with my field. While I learned a lot about human nature, and it would show some social media savvy, I would never bring it up in a job search. Even if I wanted to go into that direction, I’d volunteer to be a moderator at a discussion board or Facebook group that’s related to my area of expertise and then use *that* to show my creds.

  58. Earthwalker*

    I’ve seen Klingon on a job requirement (not that it’s likely to be on the OP’s.) A state agency in Oregon was advertising for psych counselors and noting that Klingon as a second language was desirable. I’ve been trying ever since to imagine where they find a community of people who need that sort of help and would so strongly prefer conversing in Klingon rather than English that this was important.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Two options. They either have a group of people who are pretty troubled and all happen to be massive Trekkies and do a lot of communication in Klingon. Or, it’s a joke. I’m going with #2, but do not discount the level of obsession possible for hard core fans.

      1. Someone Else*

        Or they had one or two specific long-term cases who were speaking in Klingon either as a defense mechanism/coping mechanism/stalling tactic and it was a enough of a block that having a person who could just deal with the Klingon was expected to be useful.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      I’m both fascinated and concerned about what kind of counselling techniques were being used…

    3. nonegiven*

      “The original article stated plainly that “in reality, no patient has yet tried to communicate in Klingon,” and noted that the county health department wasn’t actually spending any money to hire Klingon interpreters but simply adding Klingon to a list of languages for which interpreters might be needed someday. Nonetheless, so pervasive was the news coverage based on the misleading shortened version of the story that Multnomah County officials had to offer a denial of information the full article had already noted was not true”

  59. Not A Manager*

    I’ve really enjoyed the conversations about Klingon as a language. But I suspect that a lot of hiring managers might not be aware of these nuances. If I saw Klingon listed along with a bunch of other languages, all it would do is make me doubt the person’s proficiency in any of them. I’d think they were just playing.

  60. Observer*

    #5 – Listing Klingon would not really tell me much about your language skills. Neither does the map, to be honest, especially if it fits on a one page resume. The map might make me wonder if you’re trying to take up space. And the Klingon would make me wonder if you’re one of the Trek fans who gets offended at being called a Trekkie rather than Trekker, because Trekkers are SERIOUS and INTELLIGENT people and and Trekkies are fluff ball fans.

    You’d need a strong resume to overcome the first problem. And a VERY strong resume to overcome the second problem in most roles I might give input for.

    1. Close Bracket*

      > a one page resume

      The letter writer actually says CV. I interpreted that to mean the type of multi-page document that includes everything you have done since high school. It wouldn’t make sense to eat up valuable real estate on a 1-2 page document with a map, but on a multi-page CV, it wouldn’t be a very large percentage of the overall content.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        In academia here. I have a cv that’s about 17 pages. I have seen a lot of vitae over the years and not just for my field. I cannot think of an instance where a map would be acceptable.

      2. Observer*

        Even if it’s a multi page document it’s still likely to be too small to be really useful even in theory. In practice, as has been pretty exhaustively discussed, the map is basically useless even if it were the only thing on a large sheet of paper.

  61. Leela*

    LW # 2 – former recruiter here.

    I agree the process is skewed and there are a lot of improvements that need to be made with the double-standards and general way the work world has gone (so few will hire people without experience, but then tear their hair out that there aren’t any people with 5 years experience, for example).

    There are reasons the form letter thing is likely the way it has to be. My ability to stay hired as a recruiter was totally dependent on my ability to get roles filled. In a perfect world that would mean that the people I first reach out to are awesome, interested, and a good match. Unfortunately it doesn’t always go that way, and it can be common to have to reach out to 20-50 people for a role, and be hiring for 15+ roles at a time, running down a very short clock as I know other recruiters from other companies are on the same candidates for similar roles. It can simply be unviable to write a personalized letter to each one of them. The reasons that a candidate needs to write their resume in a certain way aren’t the same reasons a recruiter needs to write their communication a certain way.

    However, I totally agree that very generic “great job in YOUR area!” or “I like your profile! Let’s talk” are terrible, terrible ways of reaching out. Candidates who aren’t currently looking won’t be excited about this without anything (like what the job is, for example?) to go on, and trying to reach candidates who aren’t applying is the real strength of LinkedIn. A lot of us, unfortunately, have old-school managers for whom this totally would have worked, like when our parents tell us to hit the pavement to job search because that worked for them. We’re stuck with their old-school policies because they think it’ll work to throw out a huge net and just get *something* back. I fought really hard against that when I was a recruiter and I hated being expected to do so. You were often not even given the time to look at their profile clearly and have quotas of reaching X number of people, so anyone who would be listed as a “developer” would get that message from me, even if I hadn’t actually been able to look at their profile. It creates so much extra work on our end to sift through responses.

    I think someone up there mentioned generic job descriptions, and often that’s a frustration of ours as well as it can be pulling teeth to get a good job description out of a nervous hiring manager who won’t be specific because they want to see what they can get. Sometimes however, a generic job description does make sense because a wide variety of people could do X or grow into Y, and we truly don’t want to lose fantastic candidates because we decided to put 5 years Java when a 3rd year with the right personality could do it, or the company’s really waterfall and they’re curious about hiring a more agile project manager, but a waterfall-style manager could do as well if they’re open to different styles etc. It’s a very delicate balancing act as to how much information you put out because it’s less like “we’d only take X, Y, and Z” but more like “We’d take most of the alphabet, and upon interviewing, X, Y, and Z seemed to be a better fit” so that doesn’t get put in the job description.

    I agree that it’s frustrating, even as a recruiter I find the process by which other recruiters tried to recruit me to be very grating. I’m all for more employer accountability, and I think that most companies I’ve been at have a lot of room to grow as far as their hiring process. I worked at *giant teapot online store you’ve definitely heard of* and they have candidates rate their hiring process, whether or not those candidates get hired. I think it’s a good start, although I do wonder how comfortable someone is being candid. I think a lot of employers still have an old-school mentality that candidates should be ever-grateful for even having been looked at and don’t view it as a two-way street. I’ve backed out of a job offer because they were so ridiculous in the hiring process I couldn’t imagine working for them, and they totally lost it because they offered me a job, wasn’t I *grateful*?? I think things are changing a little bit, I’d like to see them change more.

    1. Media Monkey*

      but sometimes the ghosting is just rudeness. in my recent job hunt (where jobs are done almost entirely by word of mouth, specialist recruiters, or in-house recruiters), i emailed say 5 recruiters that i had either used before or had mailed me recently.

      i spoke to 4 out of the 5 (one – who are usually the best and i have dealt with a lot over the past decade or so – didn’t reply until i chased and then i got a rude note saying they had nothing for me and would let me know when they did) and had interviews for 2 separate roles. one of the 2 recruiters wanted to meet me in person before putting me forward, so we had coffee and got on well. i went to the interview and knew the role wasn’t for me, so let him know politely. i accepted the other role and sent him a message to let him know, and crickets.

      i can guarantee that they will all be in touch in 18 months time when they think i might be looking for something else. it is such a short term viewpoint to ghost or ignore people, especially if you recruit in a specialised market.

  62. Autumnheart*

    I graduated from college 3 years ago (as an over-40 graduate), and I posted on Facebook with a photo of my diploma and mortarboard. I didn’t send out formal announcements. I would definitely not send out an announcement with the intention of reminding the boss that Husband is now eligible for a promotion. That would be really inappropriate. Husband knows he graduated, the boss knows, the news will filter to the appropriate parties.

  63. A Pinch of Salt*


    I may be in the minority here…but pregnancy updates as a standard part of business calls is horribly inappropriate, and probably contributes to the central ‘mama’ issue. You’re allowing your pending motherhood to be pushed in front of business issues, your own skills, personal things other might be dealing with, etc. so people may feel justified in doing the same. I’d shut the regular updates down immediately.

    This also might sound harsh, but making this part of a business call almost makes it mandatory for coworkers to participate in your personal life, something they may not want to do. There’s a risk someone is dealing with infertility/miscarriage/whatever terrible thing and now instead of talking about TPS report cover pages as was on the agenda, they’re being pushed into someone else’s pregnancy.

    FWIW, I’m 16 weels pregnant and work in an office with regular conference calls.

    1. OP1*

      I addressed this above, but to sum up: you are right, and it’s something I’m monitoring for all the reasons you stated.

      1. Chicagoland anon*

        You seem pretty hip to this but I also wanted to throw in my two cents. My first pregnancy involved a lot of complications that kind of snuck up on me and I really did not appreciate having to constantly update people. Part of what made it hard on me was that the office culture was very much what you’re describing where other women had had easy pregnancies and didn’t mind sharing. That made it so I had to share information I didn’t want to about how difficult things were in order to be private. It’s kinder to not encourage discussion just because you’re okay – it creates more pressure on those who aren’t doing well to have to share that info when sometimes the best thing you can do for sanity is to be in a space where you’re just focused on work and don’t have to discuss problems.

        1. smoke tree*

          Something similar happened to me, not pregnancy related but other ongoing health issues. I think the pressure to keep everyone in the office in the loop contributed to my general exhaustion at the time. Obviously they were all well intentioned, but I was just too young and inexperienced to realize I should have created better boundaries there.

  64. Brett*

    Rather than just this case, I think a very good general rule is never to use maps in a CV or resume.
    Most people are very bad at creating maps, because there are a ton of assumptions that go into building any map. Getting the cartography right takes hours even with professional tools. And if someone has an experienced eye with maps, they will be able to pick out your process and assumptions pretty quickly. Even if they do not have an experienced eye, your assumptions can come through in unexpected ways that may reflect poorly on your skills. This could be as simply as bad symbology choices or poor use of spatial statistics, or as complex as choosing a projection that reflects centricity on a specific region (looking at you web mercator).

    That said, if you build a decent map on a Waterman, Cahill, Cahill-Keyes, or Fuller/Dymaxion projection, I think that could break the general rule :)

    1. LawBee*

      To be fair, I don’t think he was creating the map itself, just coloring in countries on an existing one.

  65. Lobsterman*

    LW2: because Capitalism. This is a blog about making our way in the system we’ve been handed, so it’s gonna concentrate on practicalities, not systems.

  66. You can call me flower, if you want to*

    The president of our company calls his wife mama when he talks about her, and it grosses me the hell out. I don’t really know why. She is the mother of his children. I just feel like it’s an oddly intimate word for work? I can place my finger on it, but anyway LW I agree to shut it down. You can even do that thing that’s Alison suggests where you say, “sorry I have a weird thing about it. Will you please just use my name?” in a warm tone for the sake of harmony.

    1. valentine*

      There are US regions where Mama/Daddy are just what married couples call each other, even if they’re not parents. Too intimate for work, but not inherently gross (not that you’re wrong to feel that way).

  67. Lucy*

    #4, when I gained a higher qualification my HR department was interested, and put a copy of the certificate on my file. I had been working there for three years by then, in a job that doesn’t need a bachelor’s let alone a master’s and my academic field isn’t even adjacent to my professional field, but they wanted to know about it nonetheless – and you can bet it went on any marketing blurb to clients thereafter!

    I think husband should definitely tell work – but perhaps tell HR cc grandboss if he wants it to look relevant to work rather than boasting or gift-seeking.

    Many congratulations to him!

  68. cactus lady*

    LW #1 – I don’t know if this will be helpful for you, but this helped me shut it down when someone tried to give me a nickname because my name is “too long”.
    Person: “Penelope?! That’s way too long. I’m going to call you Penny instead.”
    Me: “Well you can call me that, but I’m not going to respond to it. My name is Penelope.”
    Person [always referred to me by my full name from there on out]

    1. emmelemm*

      Yeah, I also have a long name and people often just throw out a nickname and I’m like, Nope, full name please.

  69. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP2, asking for a promotion after four months will make you sound arrogant, pushy, and entitled. Don’t do it unless you want your boss to think less of you from now on.

  70. Tisiphone*

    ghItlhwI’ vagh (writer #5), I’d leave off the Klingon if you haven’t done anything with it other than learn and enjoy. If you’ve done something significant with the language, you could include Translation Project X or Community Ed Language Classes.

  71. J3*

    L5: Re the Klingon…nooooooo. Unless you’re literally applying to be a conlanger or something, listing this makes it look like you don’t understand the purpose of putting languages on a resume, which for most fields is very practically just to show languages you might be able to actually use in the course of carrying out your job. If I saw Klingon mixed in with Spanish and Japanese or whatever, it would probably make me question the validity of your self-assessment re those language skills.

  72. Richard Hershberger*

    OP2: The question was why the double standard. The answer of “convention” is insufficient. This also isn’t complicated. It is about power imbalance. In most job hiring situations, the candidate is in the position of supplicant, asking the employer for the job. Everything else follows from this. This isn’t to say that the employer is necessarily being a jerk, but rather than both parties are responding to the logic of the scenario.

    There are some situations where the power balance is reversed. The standards of behavior similarly reverse. The employer wooing a peculiarly desirable candidate doesn’t take phone calls during the interview. My brother was an academic chemist in a subfield in high demand by certain industries. He could have tripled his salary with a phone call. He told me stories about some of the attempts to court him. He always refused the offers. When one guy finally asked him what they would have to offer to get him to accept, his answer was “tenure.” He already had that, but would have been willing to add the money, too.

  73. Zipzap*

    If I saw Klingon listed as a language on a resume, I’d immediately toss it in the trash, no matter what else was on it. It just looks too weird and I’d also be concerned about the person’s judgment. I wouldn’t want the person to be talking about their language proficiency to a client and have them say, “Hey, I even speak Klingon!”

  74. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    OP1: I like the idea of using cutesy judo to flip it back on them, if you think your coworkers would take to that better than simply being corrected. Something along the lines of “I’m saving that for the special bond between me and my child.” Playing up the whole specialness of pregnancy and using it to your advantage.

  75. nilzed*

    re: the graduation announcement

    make sure to get his personnel file updated. even in such a small company, that fact may slip their minds later when it might matter.

  76. ..Kat..*

    Klingon can be a useful language if you work in the psychiatric field. It is not unheard of for a person in psychological crisis to come in speaking Klingon.

    That said, calling yourself any sort of moderately fluent by learning just with Duolingo is vastly over estimating your skills.

  77. Star Trek Fan, but...*

    I have always been a huge Star Trek fan, but if I ever see Klingon listed on a person’s resume, that will be an instant deal breaker. (I mean, come on, I wouldn’t want to be the person that has to explain to them that there actually is no such thing as a Klingon, and that they can’t weat their Starfleet uniform to work.)

  78. Luna*

    “although I’m having trouble thinking of what those might be”
    I would probably say in stores focusing on selling movies, in cinemas, or even in a videogame store. I’ve been teaching myself Japanese for over a decade, and while I can understand it decently well, I am not good enough to hold a conversation, so I don’t have it listed on my resume.

  79. SenatorMeathooks*

    As a cartographer and a Trekkie, I’d sure as shit hire someone who lists Klingon as a fluency and uses a map to illustrate it. However, there is a good reason I am not a hiring manager, so I wouldn’t risk it.

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