Recently found Danger Overseas, from the new Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Mystery series in the library.
(Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys are now featured in their respective and combined new series in which their adventures are recounted in first person, instead of third person, as in the older stories. And YES I still read Nancy Drew books. :P)
In any case, I found this excerpt from the book rather interesting:
“It sounds amazing, Aunt Estelle,” I said.
“Nancy Drew, I am surprised to hear such lazy adjective usage from you.” Aunt Estelle told me a bit severely. “The word ‘amazing’ should not be used as a substitute for ‘interesting’ or ‘fascinating.’ Its meaning has more to do with being startled or shocked. I know that many young people today are, shall we say, cavalier in their use of overheated vocabulary to convey perfectly ordinary sentiments, but I believe you can do better.”
I could feel my cheeks reddening. “Um–sorry, I think.” I glanced at my friends Bess and George for help.
“Don’t look at us,” George told me. “Just accept it.”
“I would if I understood what it meant,” I retorted.
Aunt Estelle unexpectedly burst out laughing. “Touché!” she exclaimed. “I’m sorry dear. I was being pompous.”
“Aunt” Estelle isn’t actually my aunt. She’s the great aunt of George Fayne and Bess Marvin, who are my best friends and happen to be each other’s cousins. I call her Aunt Estelle because she asked me to. “It’s just what I’m used to,” she said.
The front bit about language change (lexical change) aside, it was the last bit that piqued my interest and reminded me of something I learnt in class; that addressing elders as auntie or uncle was unique to some varieties of Asian English.
From my Hist Variation notes:
Kandiah uses the example of the word uncle (also auntie) (in Lankan English [LkE] [Sri Lankan English], as we as in SgE). In BrE and other Older Varieties, the term refers to the brother of one’s parents or in certain situations to ‘honorary’ older males that one is familiar with. In LkE and SgE, the term is used in those ways as well as to older male adults that one is not familiar with (from point of view of children) of equal social status, or an adult male in position of higher authority whom the speaker views with affectionate identification even while recognising distance (respect).
In other words, uncle and auntie were not adopted directly from BrE [British English] but were transformed through interaction with the new cultural contexts, so that the terms now have a different range of meanings.