So today's topic is yet again related to the British culture. The word "mate" is one of those words that the Brits just love to use (much like cheers, but that is another story that does disturb me, but in a different way :P). Some background knowledge first.
When I first came to England, not as a tourist(in that capacity things are not so clear to you), I notice that people kept calling me "mate", like "thanks mate" or "cheers mate". This was a bit odd for me, because I always associated the word mate, to the mating, which is clearly not what they were intending it as, or at least one hopes it was not ;P. So this obviously required me to do some digging on the meaning of the word, and a simple Google search provides you with 22 definitions for it. 22 come on, I know they try to simplify the language but this just drains all meaning from the word, after all you can mean whatever. Check it out:
1. husband or wife; spouse.
2. one member of a pair of mated animals.
3. one of a pair: I can't find the mate to this glove.
4. a counterpart.
5. an associate; fellow worker; comrade; partner (often used in combination): classmate; roommate.
6. friend; buddy; pal (often used as an informal term of address): Let me give you a hand with that, mate.
a. first mate.
b. any of a number of officers of varying degrees of rank subordinate to the master of a merchant ship.
c. an assistant to a warrant officer or other functionary on a ship.
8. an aide or helper, as to an artisan; factotum.
9. a gear, rack, or worm engaging with another gear or worm.
10. Archaic. an equal in reputation; peer; match.
–verb (used with object)
11. to join as a mate or as mates.
12. to bring (animals) together for breeding purposes.
13. to match or marry.
14. to join, fit, or associate suitably: to mate thought with daring action.
15. to connect or link: a telephone system mated to a computerized information service.
16. to treat as comparable.
–verb (used without object)
17. to associate as a mate or as mates.
18. (of animals) to copulate.
19. (of animals) to pair for the purpose of breeding.
20. to marry.
21. (of a gear, rack, or worm) to engage with another gear or worm; mesh.
22. Archaic. to consort; keep company.
OK, it is not that bad considering the meaning are related, the reality is probably the Brits use it because they were a big naval nation thus a lot of sailors. On the other hand the other interpretation of the word might be an indication on what they did in the ships. I mean think about it, no girls, months at sea, you do the maths ;P.
The funny thing is they don't find it weird at all, this words double meaning is completely ignored, which is quite strange considering the Brits usual sarcasm.
Well anyway, just a thought that occurred to me once, and today the bus driver did said "cheers mate", so guess why I am sharing ;P.