Guardians of the Past
Noblespeak in Waterdeep
In Waterdeep a citizen addresses everyone of known noble status as “lord” or “lady” (toddlers and young children usually as “young lord” or “young lady”). Brief bows are considered polite, but deep or florid ones are now often as mockery.
“Saer” (rather than sir) or “goodwoman” is used when by those uncertain of a person’s status but not wanting to give offense. No offense will be taken (except when one noble addresses another Waterdhavian noble as “saer”.
“Saer” is also sometimes used to signal respect when you know you are addressing someone not noble, but you believe the person has behaved nobly, ans so is “worthy to stand with the best.”
Typically a noble family of Waterdeep consists of _the_Lord, who is the head of the house and several other lords (his sons, cousins, brothers, and uncles.) “Old Lord” always refers to the previous head of the house, so it’s either the dead father of the current head or (rarely) someone dismissed from being the head of the house (perhaps exiled, deposed, vanished, fled, locked up as dangerously insane.) In the same manner, the family may have multiple family members known as “Lady”. Widows are typically known as “Dowager Lady” when speaking of them, but are addressed as “Lady” when speaking to them.
To address a noble as “young master” or “young mistress” is seen as a form of admonishment. When used to address an infant, a toddler, or a misbehaving youth up to the age of nine, “young master” or “young mistress” is quite acceptable in the eyes of the child’s noble parents, even if the speaker is a servant, outlander, or the dirtiest of the “low commoners.” When used to address an older noble, it’s an insult, tolerated – though not with pleasure – only when used by the City Watch or the City Guard or Palace officers. It is passed off as not insulting when used by a very old noble to a younger noble.
It is an insult to address a noble by the wrong title. As mentioned above, an adult noble will take offense if called “saer” by another noble. The same noble would not take insult to being called “saer” by an outlander or a commoner.
Nobles refer to themselves as “we lords” or “we worthies” and refer to the Hidden Lords and the Open Lord as “the Lords of the City.” Nobles refer to the non-noble Waterdhavians as “citizens” when being polite, and “commoners” when being impolite.