A few years ago, an elderly Vietnamese woman invited me to her apartment in Tenderloin. I was a teenager at the time and it was not unusual for Vietnamese children to refer to older people by their first names. For me, it was ‘Cô’, the Vietnamese word for paternal aunt – which, when used with non-relatives, was akin to ‘miss’.
Cô could barely speak English. I wasn’t sure if she understood what “Miss” meant.