Bus drivers in Brighton and Hove, England, are finding out the answer the hard way: their bosses are forbidding them from referring to passengers as "babe," "love," or "darling" because of complaints.
But critics of the move argued that such terms were part of the region's linguistic heritage, and that people were simply employing traditional Geordie terms of endearments.
So when bus drivers, cabbies and shopkeepers the nation over use words like "luvvie", "darling" or "flower", they are being "affectionate, not patronising", says Tony Thorne, editor of the Dictionary of Contemporary Slang.
"It's only urban sophisticates - usually under the age of 40 - who choose to find them distasteful. It is the 'language hygienists' who choose to see them as discrimination," he says.
"It's folksy - part of a tradition in this country, a momentary affection between strangers. I know people who don't live in Britain any more and when they come back they say how much they like to hear terms of affection, such as the Essex 'babes'."
So, what do you think Neatoramanauts? Is it sexist to call someone "babe"? Link