Mind your language! Volunteers told to tone down terms of affection when Tour de France visits

Tour Makers' training says avoid confusion by not using words such as "darling," love," or "mate"

by Simon_MacMichael   April 19, 2014  

Tour Makers (l-r) Becky, Vijay, Claire

The 12,000 volunteers chosen as Tour Makers to help ensure the visit of the Tour de France on its visit to the UK this year have been told to watch their language – but it’s not swearing that’s the concern, rather whether terms used to address people may be misconstrued.

According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, an online training module for Tour Makers asks them to avoid using words such as “love” – as the newspaper notes, a word commonly dropped into conversation in the region – in conversations with visitors.

Also out of bounds are words that may perhaps be more commonly heard in some of the areas Stage 3 from Cambridge to London will pass through – “mate” and “darling.”

The online tutorial advises: “Be confident and naturally friendly.

“Avoid using words such as ‘mate’, ‘love’ or ‘darling’ – they may sound friendly to you, but they could offend some people.”

The Yorkshire Evening Post said that one volunteer had told it: “I must admit I was a bit surprised when I read the advice.

“I can see why it makes sense but it’s going to need a lot of concentration for every single one of us to stop calling people ‘love’.”

A spokesman for Welcome to Yorkshire, which won the bid to host the opening days of the 101st edition of the race, explained: “Yorkshire is quite rightly well known for its famous warm welcome and that won’t change.

“However, we don’t want volunteers to use language that may cause confusion for our overseas visitors!”

The decision to seek Tour Makers to staff the race was inspired by the success of the Games Makers at London 2012. They will fulfil a number of roles including marshalling crossing points and providing directions to visitors at locations such as transport hubs.

Their recruitment and training have been co-ordinated by Asda, the supermarket chain based in Leeds, which hosts the build-up to the Tour and the start of Stage 1 – and their uniforms have been supplied by its George clothing brand.

19 user comments

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Absolutely fucking ridiculous...
"could you try to sound not quite so Northern".
Good job the tour isn't going to Liverpool, Newcastle or Wolverhampton, isn't it. They would just be asking them to point.
(no offence meant to people from those fine cities, either)

Currently going slower than I'd like...

posted by stealth [184 posts]
19th April 2014 - 21:54

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this is standard for any public facing job, why make a big deal about it (and yes I'm taking part as a tour maker)

posted by chrisb87 [66 posts]
19th April 2014 - 22:09

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Jeez how stupid, only in the UK could political correctness go this bezerk. At the end of the day people say these terms in a welcoming and pleasant, not offensive manner, all regions and countries have their own sayings...

KEVIN

posted by kairey1964 [11 posts]
19th April 2014 - 22:13

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Next they'll be telling us not to wear our flat caps, to hide our whippets, and also to stop warning Americans to stay on't'roads.

posted by Peowpeowpeowlasers [65 posts]
19th April 2014 - 22:22

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Chuffin eck!
I've been living down south for for the last 24yrs, 16 of those in Sussex, but I still call everyone "Love" "Lovey" or "Duck"
You can not just turn off an expression that you have used all your life.

I'm only here for the cake

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posted by Dizzy [61 posts]
19th April 2014 - 22:42

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As chrisb87 says. This is standard for any public facing job. The organisers have brought in Asda to do the training. They are going to apply their store training to this. It's not PC gone mad or anything like that. I work in retail. If my boss caught me using informal titles with customers I would be taken to the side. I will also never use a customer's first name unless I was a personal friend of theirs.

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posted by giff77 [1048 posts]
19th April 2014 - 23:15

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I've been called "love" and other informal terms of endearment by plenty of service sector employees (including Asda staff here in Yorkshire). Who really gives a toss?

Can't file this one under "PC gone mad" but maybe "anodyne homogeneity strikes again".

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posted by Him Up North [184 posts]
20th April 2014 - 0:24

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As a Yank I would hardly be put off by someone calling me "love" while visiting. It is just a bike race after all... but worry not the US has the same PC dribble. Happy Easter!

Bryin

posted by Bryin [16 posts]
20th April 2014 - 3:13

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you can just imagine all those folks in front of their computers reciting 'the rain is spain falls mainly on the plain' over and over again until they sound RP enough

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posted by Northernbike [127 posts]
20th April 2014 - 7:21

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Dear Volunteers,

Please avoid being yourselves.

Thanks

posted by Beaufort [144 posts]
20th April 2014 - 7:39

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In Glasgow, people frequently call women 'hen' - imagine the confusion that might cause!

posted by Scotbloc [8 posts]
20th April 2014 - 7:43

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As someone who's English is a second language, I'd have to say that it isn't the Brits or the Americans that would be most put off by such informal addressing, but people, like me, that mostly use English in business dealings in a work environment.

It took me a good long while before I figured that I could discount words such as "love", "mate", "lad", when used by total strangers...

Maybe the organizers should create language tutorials for the visitors as well? Wink

posted by lfgaspar [6 posts]
20th April 2014 - 8:24

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Imagine somebody getting a bollocking for encouraging Geraint Thomas up one of the many climbs on day 2 with a "Come on G, dig in lad" instead of the far more appropriate "Mr Thomas, I believe that you be better placed if you put a little more effort in".
Are the French being asked to be a little less regional too, I wonder??

Currently going slower than I'd like...

posted by stealth [184 posts]
20th April 2014 - 8:48

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I can see both sides. We are forgetting that this is a possibly the biggest sporting event. It's not a local thing and universal and world wide standards have to apply not some regional foibles. The country has to fit the Tour not the other way round. you may not like that but that's the way it is.
Equally I get most arsey being called "mate" by some teenager who is easily young enough to be my offspring and then some. Same in shops. The little old lady who calls me "dear" in the local paper shop is in a different position to one of many in Asda. Many peoples normal language isn't always correct either. Most of the kids I teach (7-11) are totally bemused when they are told that "hell" or "crap" is not acceptable. I would guess that this is all part of the same thing.
I fail to see how it can be policed however and would suggest that it is just part of a large companies general theory rather than anything that will cost someone their job. Can't say it worries me either way to be honest.
Typical example of something being made out of nothing.

posted by mattsccm [247 posts]
20th April 2014 - 8:48

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Nothing wrong with implementing high standards of professionalism, and thinking about regional and international interpretations of language use.

Shop staff calling me "mate" does irritate the hell out of me. Obviously it doesn't irritate others. But why not apply some simple guidance to aim for the highest standards and creating the best impression and experience for visitors?!

posted by BikeBud [100 posts]
20th April 2014 - 9:26

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"aye wheyaye , just gan doon heor" followed by "ah divvent knaa what yer taakin aboot".

Now what could be more simpler to understand than that ?

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2708 posts]
20th April 2014 - 15:29

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Easy do what I do when some oik refers to me as "mate" turn around and tell them that you are not their friend and certainly not the breeding partner Wink

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [583 posts]
20th April 2014 - 16:29

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I'm Northern, and I have no issues with being called love, duck, darling (sometimes people miss the beard) or lad but mate always sounds weird unless it's one of your actual mates.

posted by nicholassmith [61 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 9:32

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giff77 wrote:
As chrisb87 says. This is standard for any public facing job. The organisers have brought in Asda to do the training. They are going to apply their store training to this. It's not PC gone mad or anything like that. I work in retail. If my boss caught me using informal titles with customers I would be taken to the side. I will also never use a customer's first name unless I was a personal friend of theirs.

You'll have to tell that to the barmaid (bar assistant, of course) who called me 'darling' on Sunday in Chorleywood (outskirts of M25). Unusual nowadays but surprisingly pleasant as I'm 56 and balding.

I'm also down to be a Tourmaker but after going through their online training I'm not so sure now and there is no training in Cambridge either. Also I'm not so keen on advertising Asda, owned by Walmart, of course, one of the most rapacious companies on earth.

posted by Alan Tullett [1437 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 19:36

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