Letters: Mate, Asta, Outsourced 'Thank You'

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Scott Simon dives into the listener mailbag. Topics include a recent essay on finding an American counterpart to Australia's "mate," the absence of the wire-haired terrier Asta in a feature on Nick and Nora Charles of Thin Man fame, and an "outsourced" thank-you note.


Time now for your letters.

Got many letters about my essay last Saturday about the one-day ban forbidding security guards in Australia's Parliament from using the word `mate.' I suggested we need a mate in American English, something that suggests/reflects a friendliness without resorting to the immediate and unearned deployment of first names. Many listeners suggested we already have some American equivalents of mate like `hon,' `y'all' and `guys.' Jonathan Wilson of Woodstock, Vermont, writes, `A viable American alternative to mate is "dude." It's not just for kids anymore.'

Also last week, we spoke with The New Republic's Christopher Orr about the DVD box set of "The Thin Man," six murder mysteries solved by Nick and Nora Charles. As Charles Levi of Houston notes, we failed to mention a crucial character in this series. `What?' he writes. `Not one word about Asta?' Well, I'm afraid, alas, Mr. Levi's correct. We did not mention Nick and Nora's wirehaired terrier. Our apologies. By the way, the actor dog who played Asta was really named Skippy.

And this just in: `Dear Mr. Simon, wishing you a good day. I am Asha Surella(ph), mailing on behalf of Mr. A.J. Jacob. I am his remote assistant. Mr. A.J. Jacob is happy that the interview went on well and he wants to thank you for this opportunity. He is also looking forward for it to be aired on NPR. Regards, Asha Surella, yourmaninindia.com.' And there is a PS: `It is my privilege to be communicating with a Peabody Award winner and distinguished correspondent of your stature.' How nice. I like this communication.

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