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Don't call her "Miss"

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Topic: 2) Don't call her 'Miss' (1 of 7), Read 111 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Wednesday, June 09, 1999 08:39 AM

Joe Latham, of Glasgow, Scotland, writes: "A word that is missing, from British English at least, is one to attract the attention of a female university instructor. 'Miss' is used by children calling their teachers but is not appropriate at the adult level. 'Professor' in British English implies a distinguished academic holding a university chair. 'Sir' is adequate for a male instructor, but no corresponding word exists for females."

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Topic: 2) Don't call her 'Miss' (2 of 7), Read 93 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Aaron Reneker (zanazarius@yahoo.com)
Date: Wednesday, June 09, 1999 05:47 PM

If you're unsure of how to address a female (of any age past 21 and whatever occupation), the best thing to do is to approach her with a polite, "Ma'am?" Once you have her attention, politely inquire as to how she wishes to be addressed. I had one education professor who had a double doctorate (more patience than I have!), but she bristled at being called Dr. Lowry, preferring either Mrs. Lowry or Deborah. I have found that the majority of women truly appreciate those people who take the time to discover her preferences. Don't presume anything where titles are concerned, however...their are some VERY young PhD's out there!

Aaron Reneker

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Topic: 2) Don't call her 'Miss' (3 of 7), Read 91 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Michael Carano (mcarano@neo.rrcom)
Date: Thursday, June 10, 1999 06:46 AM

It all depends upon for what reason you want to catch the attention of this professor: if you're trying to get her attention to answer a question and are in hopes of securing a good grade in the course, then I suggest "brilliant Ms. _________"; if you find her highly attractive and want to please her in a rough and tumble East End kind of way, hoping to share some fish and chips or a beer after class, then, howsabout "cutie pie","hey, babe" or "sweet cheeks" (the last being highly effective on professors who want to be treated occasionally for their physical rather than mental capabilities; if you're waiting for a lift, and you beckon her to proceed before you, then "after you, my dear" is highly appropriate; if she's your wife, and you need her to pass the salt across the breakfast table, then a terse, guttural "salt, please, without the need for a salutation addendum is all that's needed. The situation is the key.

Caddie Blowindawind

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Topic: 2) Don't call her 'Miss' (4 of 7), Read 83 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Thursday, June 10, 1999 12:31 PM

Right. Sure. "Sweet cheeks" always works wonders on me.

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Topic: 2) Don't call her 'Miss' (5 of 7), Read 77 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Michael Fischer (tsuwm@aol.com)
Date: Thursday, June 10, 1999 03:09 PM

from Form[al]s of Address:

professor, assistant or associate - Professor Smith, Ms. Smith, Dr. Smith

professor, full - Professor Smith, Dr. Smith


today's wwftd is...

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Topic: 2) Don't call her 'Miss' (6 of 7), Read 70 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Theresa Bernsen (bernsent@slu.edu)
Date: Monday, June 14, 1999 03:17 PM

I always thought that if gender really no longer matters in one's profession, then we should use "sir" for both men and women as a title of respect. After awhile, sir would lose its gender-specificity, just as the title "doctor" has.

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Topic: 2) Don't call her 'Miss' (7 of 7), Read 52 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Aaron Reneker (zanazarius@yahoo.com)
Date: Tuesday, June 15, 1999 04:15 PM

Good point, as some areas of the military have already adopted this idea. However, certain upper-level officers still prefer to be called "Ma'am" instead of "Sir," so this again proves the fact that the best way to find out is to presume nothing until you have asked the female officer (or whoever) how she prefers to be addressed. Again, unless military regulation strictly dictate the proper form of address (and they don't, except in certain instances), I believe personal preference will continue to be the rule.

Aaron Reneker


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