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When I was watching the movie documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11", one of the interviewed lawyers told Michael moore "sit down, my son".

After that, I just couldn't stop thinking about this phrase, and how odd it seemed to me, even though this has not been the first time I've heard it.

I've tried to come up with a similar phrase in the german language (me being native german, I suppose this is normal behaviour to resolve language barriers), but unsuccessfully.

So where does this phrase come from? How is it usually used?

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There is an exact equivalent in German (and other languages, too). "Setz' Dich, mein Sohn". You are more likely to hear it from a clergyman than an ordinary person, but other than that, the usage is the same. So I'm not sure what your question is. Please clarify. –  RegDwigнt Mar 24 '12 at 11:38
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this is an ancient, ancient phrase and usage. It's found in the Old Testament - it's common for a senior male to use this term when speaking to a junior male even if they are not father and son. –  Mark Beadles Mar 24 '12 at 14:43
    
But it's not just older men who use the phrase "my son" is it? Though you're right, it's probably more common for men to use it. –  JLG Mar 24 '12 at 17:04
    
@RegDwightѬſ道 I've never heard that phrase in german. Just because it translates well, doesn't make it common... –  user19335 Mar 24 '12 at 18:37

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In the U.S., my son is usually used as a term of respect by an older person for a boy or younger man. There is an element of the speaker reminding the other of his/her seniority. If the two are close, it could be considered a term of endearment. The two don't have to be members of the same family.

I'm not sure how long it has been around, but I suspect a long time.

Is there really no equivalent in German?

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