Friday, April 23, 2010

That's *Mister* Verb to all of you: Titles

The kids these days. See this piece on titles, starting with discussion with leading sociolinguist Jack Chambers from the Toronto Star, called
Don’t call me Mister, unless you really want to
In our increasingly casual world, social titles spell confusion
Definitely call me Mister.* Chambers is surely right that most of society has become less concerned with titles.

The article quotes somebody as saying that he
calls men “Mr.,” but says the women present “a real quagmire.” There are just too many options.
Well, I'm not sure. On Ms., see Janet Fuller's 2005 article on The Uses and Meanings of the Female Title "Ms.", in American Speech 80(2): 180-206. Here's the abstract:
This article examines the use of the female title Ms. by students, faculty,and staff at a Midwestern university in the United States using data generated with the written survey used by Donna Lillian (1993) in a similar study in Canada. Findings show that faculty are fairly consistent in their understanding of Ms. as a neutral title to be used for all women and are more likely to choose this title than students and staff. Student responses show a wide range of meanings for Ms., with the meanings `young' and `single' being the most common. Female students were far less likely to select Ms. than male students, showing a gender gap in the student data that is not seen in the staff and faculty responses. These data show multiple meanings and patterns of female title use in the United States today, with little evidence pointing toward a decrease in this variation.
So, even this relatively new title seems pretty stable.

*Hey, it's my name.

1 comment:

The Ridger, FCD said...

They ought to offer Mr, Ms, and Dr. Or better, offer nothing and let you insist on one. I've seen forms that offer Mr, Mrs, and Ms - thereby missing the whole point.