kbarber

Mr and Ms? How does your local ballet company refer to its dancers?

73 posts in this topic

In many cultures, the usage of the equivalent of "Mrs." is age-based rather than marital status-based, even if the underlying assumption is that all women who are of a particular age must be married. I am always addressed as Madame in France, not Mademoiselle and Frau in Germany, not Fräulein, or if addressed with an English title, Mrs.

Share this post


Link to post

I personaly use the term "Ms" as I was once married, and do not want to be addressed as Miss or Mrs. In general most women in the same catagory as myself, use Ms, for the same reason. Just a thought of "Mrs" in other countries, how can they tell your age on the telephone, unless of course they know your date of birth?

Share this post


Link to post

. Just a thought of "Mrs" in other countries, how can they tell your age on the telephone, unless of course they know your date of birth?

Well...you can always take a wild guess. The voice ages too I guess, and it usually shows...

One way I find easy in my workplace while dealing with female doctors of all ages, is by addressing them as Dr. so and so,hence eliminating the confusion of the Miss/Mrs...

Share this post


Link to post

. Just a thought of "Mrs" in other countries, how can they tell your age on the telephone, unless of course they know your date of birth?

Well...you can always take a wild guess. The voice ages too I guess, and it usually shows...

In some countries where the equivalent to the English 'Mrs' has become the default, it is applied for women of any age. At least in Germany, 'Fräulein' for unmarried women is nowadays only used very, very rarely. It has a rather antiquated connotation. Regardless of age or marital status, women are generally addressed with 'Frau'. In articles, it is usually just the last name without any title, as diane has already mentioned. Girls in their early to mid-teens are on the other hand addressed with 'young woman' as soon as they are at an age where they can't be considered little children anymore.

Share this post


Link to post

Actually the term MS rfefers to a woman that has been married, but no longer is. Who do not wish to be called Miss or Mrs.

That's not true, Nanarina. Ms. is a title used by women of any marital status. In French (certainly in Quebec French) the default term of address for women is Madame (someone tried "Madelle" as a Ms-equivalent but it never took off), which means that many francophones default to "Mrs" in English.

Nanarina is right as well, she's just a little out of date. There was a time when Ms. referred only to divorced women (and a divorcee was not a good thing to be). You could also tell a woman was divorced because she was called, say, Mrs. Ann Jones - a wife was referred to Mrs. Richard Jones.

Years ago I was reading hard copies of some old Washington Posts from the early sixties and was weirded out when the social pages referred to a gathering of wives of Kennedy Administration officials as "Mrs. Robert McNamara... Mrs. Robert Kennedy.... Mrs. Dean Rusk..." their identities totally subsumed, symbolically, into their husbands'. Very strange to the modern eye but again, not that long ago.

Share this post


Link to post

I had never heard or read about "Ms." used for divorced women. The proper address for a divorced woman, if a woman kept her ex-husband's name, was, as dirac notes, "Mrs. [First Name] [Married Last Name].

This history of "Ms." as described in this article in The New York Times is what I'm familiar with:

http://www.nytimes.c...age-t.html?_r=0

At least in Germany, 'Fräulein' for unmarried women is nowadays only used very, very rarely. It has a rather antiquated connotation.

I noticed the last time I was there that Fräulein was used rarely, when it was more common in the '70's when I first went. It sounds as antiquated as "Master," the formal address used for a boy.

Share this post


Link to post

I have always thought that the use of first names, unless you were personal friends with someone, and discussing that friendship, was a poor choice in public documents -- it trivializes dancers and their contribution to the art form.

Your question about generational preferences is an interesting one, though -- it could be that my preferences do indeed mark me as part of an older demographic. Nevertheless, I try to use first names sparingly.

Even dropping the "Mr" and "Ms" though, and using the surname by itself, seems to me to make it less stuffy, if one doesn't want to go the whole way to first names.

As a child, I remember being told that referring to a woman by her last name was rude. Nowadays I often hear men refer to each other or to another man by last name, and I sometimes do the same, in the rough teasing way that men have with each other. As for addressing strangers or referring to them in print, I find "Mr." and "Mrs". respectful and not at all stuffy. I've had guys half my age refer to me as "man," and I know they meant no disrespect, but neither did they show the respect they should have, and I think that's unfortunate - not for me, but for them that they don't have in their bones that automatic respect for age - even middle age - that my generation was taught.

Share this post


Link to post

I had never heard or read about "Ms." used for divorced women. The proper address for a divorced woman, if a woman kept her ex-husband's name, was, as dirac notes, "Mrs. [First Name] [Married Last Name].

This history of "Ms." as described in this article in The New York Times is what I'm familiar with:

http://www.nytimes.c...age-t.html?_r=0

At least in Germany, 'Fräulein' for unmarried women is nowadays only used very, very rarely. It has a rather antiquated connotation.

I noticed the last time I was there that Fräulein was used rarely, when it was more common in the '70's when I first went. It sounds as antiquated as "Master," the formal address used for a boy.

Thanks, Helene. I believe that's the same NYT article I linked to earlier in this thread. I don't know what to tell you, only that I do remember reading that some once used Ms. for divorced women and that Ms. no longer had that particular significance. I don't have any personal experience of such.

Share this post


Link to post

quote cubanmiamiboy: One way I find easy in my workplace while dealing with female doctors of all ages, is by addressing them as Dr. so and so,hence eliminating the confusion of the Miss/Mrs...

:) there is a program on bbc radio (I get the podcasts) called the "Naked Scientist" and they have "phone ins", where people can ask questions and discuss mainly scientific matters. Everyone who phones in is referred to as "doctor" so-and-so.

At first I thought that everyone who phoned in WAS a doctor, but then it got to the point where I realised that this was probably not the case.

-d-

Share this post


Link to post

I just can't help myself from dredging up this old thread, because I didn't see something here which is still quite common in the south-referring to a woman of a certain age as "Miss" whether she was married or unmarried. For instance, my mother-in-law----she was obviously married to my husband's father before she was widowed, but from the time I met her until the day she died, she was "Miss Gloria" to me and anyone who didn't call her "Mother" or "Aunt", etc, or her intimate friends of her own generation who called her "Gloria". That's the case with a lot of older women here, whether they have been married or not. What I've never noticed before my own eyes is when the transition occurs-when they become old enough to be referred to as "Miss Whatever" by most of the people who know them who aren't directly related and of their own generation. I've never known a woman in person who was referred to as "Ms". Goodness but I'm dating myself! For that matter, I am already "Miss Melanie" (my first name) to my younger nephews' friends, lol. I have been married for over 30 years, but I'm not "Mrs" anything, I'm "Miss Melanie". It seems to indicate a familiarity combined with respect.

(Oh, I chose "Parma" when I signed up because it can be either ham or violets, and somedays you just don't which you are :) )

Share this post


Link to post

Oh, Parma, that takes me back! We lived in the South for a time when I was a teenager (w-a-a-a-y back in the late 60's / early 70's) and it was also not uncommon for people refer to older men with whom they a friendly and respectful relationship as "Mr." plus their first names -- "Mr. Robert," e.g., or even "Mr. Bob" if "Bob" was how everyone knew him. One wouldn't refer to someone in a position of authority that way in public -- if Mr. Bob was your teacher, you'd never call him that in the classroom (in the classroom his name was "Sir") -- but in the private sphere, "Mr. Bob" was how you demonstrated both affection and respect.

Share this post


Link to post

Many years ago Michael Crabb wrote a piece about solo dancer Margie Gillis and the late Christopher Gillis, then a member of the Paul Taylor company, for Maclean's magazine. Normally the practice at Maclean's is to use the surname only after the initial introduction, but in the case of siblings with the same surname, this was not feasible. Crabb elected to refer to them as Margie and Christopher rather than Ms. Gillis and Mr. Gillis, and I found this jarring in the magazine's context and inappropriately familiar.

Share this post


Link to post

Oh, Parma, that takes me back! We lived in the South for a time when I was a teenager (w-a-a-a-y back in the late 60's / early 70's) and it was also not uncommon for people refer to older men with whom they a friendly and respectful relationship as "Mr." plus their first names -- "Mr. Robert," e.g., or even "Mr. Bob" if "Bob" was how everyone knew him. One wouldn't refer to someone in a position of authority that way in public -- if Mr. Bob was your teacher, you'd never call him that in the classroom (in the classroom his name was "Sir") -- but in the private sphere, "Mr. Bob" was how you demonstrated both affection and respect.

Kathleen, that is absolutely still true. I forgot to say--to further complicate matters, the pronunciation for "Ms" can also sound like like the southern pronunciation for either "Mrs" or "Miss" (Mizz), so you just have to know, if you need to know. As a matter of fact, it's my personal belief that that pronunciation gets people out of a pickle when they don't know, lol. It works for all three!

And to even further complicate matters, there are just no hard-and-fast rules about these things, especially nowadays when people might be either modern about it the matter, or "old-school". For instance, some ministers of the church might be known as "Pastor First Name", when others would only ever be called "Pastor Last Name". It doesn't really depend on age, though that's as sure an indicator as any.

Share this post


Link to post

I just can't help myself from dredging up this old thread, because I didn't see something here which is still quite common in the south-referring to a woman of a certain age as "Miss" whether she was married or unmarried. ... I've never known a woman in person who was referred to as "Ms". Goodness but I'm dating myself! For that matter, I am already "Miss Melanie" (my first name) to my younger nephews' friends, lol. I have been married for over 30 years, but I'm not "Mrs" anything, I'm "Miss Melanie". It seems to indicate a familiarity combined with respect.

(Oh, I chose "Parma" when I signed up because it can be either ham or violets, and somedays you just don't which you are smile.png )

There are still some regional variations of language, although many of them are being subsumed by media standardization. (The NYT has run some fascinating infographics about regional usage in the last couple of years) I have a feeling that this aspect (how we refer to ourselves and to others) will likely be the "last man standing" as the rest of these differences fade away.

In my part of the world (Pacific Northwest) there are still some roles where a woman can be referred to as "Miss First Name," but they are generally limited to work situations (preschool teachers and some ballet teachers come to mind) -- I don't know any women who are referred to as "Miss" in a social context.

And I love both parma ham and parma violets, so it's a happy choice either way!

Share this post


Link to post

Many years ago Michael Crabb wrote a piece about solo dancer Margie Gillis and the late Christopher Gillis, then a member of the Paul Taylor company, for Maclean's magazine. Normally the practice at Maclean's is to use the surname only after the initial introduction, but in the case of siblings with the same surname, this was not feasible. Crabb elected to refer to them as Margie and Christopher rather than Ms. Gillis and Mr. Gillis, and I found this jarring in the magazine's context and inappropriately familiar.

Oh, this is a difficult aspect, isn't it? The NYT is very clear about using Mr or Ms after the first reference (which resulted in one of my favorite examples in a discussion about Rocky Horror Picture Show and the actor/musician Mr Loaf). In general, I like the last name only after the first reference, in part because I have a limited word count and I don't want to squander any of it, but it does make things hard when you have multiples of a last name. At least with the Gillises they could have used M Gillis and C Gillis -- I'm always stuck when I have to discuss Seth and Sara Orza.

I do agree with you, though, about the familiarity that first names imply. I've always thought that first names should be reserved for discussing personal relationships -- if I'm talking about my friendship with an artist, I can call them by their first name. But if I'm talking about their work, I like the distance that last names confer.

Share this post


Link to post

Sandik, you sound somewhat "old school" in these matters, as am I. Also, I love your use of the phrase "a happy choice", I use it when appropriate, myself smile.png I love using somewhat archaic words and phrases as long as they're at least somewhat self-explanatory.

Share this post


Link to post

Sandik, you sound somewhat "old school" in these matters, as am I. Also, I love your use of the phrase "a happy choice", I use it when appropriate, myself smile.png I love using somewhat archaic words and phrases as long as they're at least somewhat self-explanatory.

I think of myself as more "middle-aged school" -- I've got many colleagues who are much more formal than I am, but I am indeed less casual than most younger critics!

Share this post


Link to post

Many years ago Michael Crabb wrote a piece about solo dancer Margie Gillis and the late Christopher Gillis, then a member of the Paul Taylor company, for Maclean's magazine. Normally the practice at Maclean's is to use the surname only after the initial introduction, but in the case of siblings with the same surname, this was not feasible. Crabb elected to refer to them as Margie and Christopher rather than Ms. Gillis and Mr. Gillis, and I found this jarring in the magazine's context and inappropriately familiar.

Oh, this is a difficult aspect, isn't it? The NYT is very clear about using Mr or Ms after the first reference (which resulted in one of my favorite examples in a discussion about Rocky Horror Picture Show and the actor/musician Mr Loaf). In general, I like the last name only after the first reference, in part because I have a limited word count and I don't want to squander any of it, but it does make things hard when you have multiples of a last name. At least with the Gillises they could have used M Gillis and C Gillis -- I'm always stuck when I have to discuss Seth and Sara Orza.

I do agree with you, though, about the familiarity that first names imply. I've always thought that first names should be reserved for discussing personal relationships -- if I'm talking about my friendship with an artist, I can call them by their first name. But if I'm talking about their work, I like the distance that last names confer.

Hear! Hear!

Way back in the late 70's or early 80's Dance Magazine (I think) published an article entitled "May I Call You Farrell?" on the anomalous and rather peculiar convention of referring to ballet dancers by their first names -- something that's done with absolutely no other category of artist that I'm aware of. I personally find the practice as grating as fingernails on a chalkboard. If we were discussing the work of say, Nobel laureates Alice Munro or Toni Morrison, whether formally in a published review or less formally in a blog post or, you know, on an internet forum, we wouldn't refer to them as "Alice" and "Toni." We probably wouldn't be so formal as to follow the NYT's convention of first referring to them "Ms. Munro" or "Ms. Morrison," but after a first reference using their full names, we'd refer to them as "Munro" and "Morrison." Then why "Wendy" rather than "Whelan"? Or "Ashley" rather than [fill in the name of what seems to be about half the ballerinas under 30]. Even opera, an art form that engenders the same kind of personal identification with and investment in its performers, doesn't really go there. It's not "the Maria / Renata wars" for instance.

I don't think it's just an age thing. I was listening to a tech podcast the other day in which the two youngish (male) hosts were discussing Jill Lepore's New Yorker article on Clay Christensen and disruption. They consistently referred to them as "Professor Lepore" and "Professor Christensen" throughout -- even though one of them had co-authored a book with Christensen. I was thoroughly charmed. That being said, there is an awful lot of chatter among tech writers, podcasters, and fanboys about "Steve," "Jony," and "Tim" (There are two prominent Steves in tech, but "Steve" is never Steve Ballmer ...)

And she's "Secretary Clinton" to me, no matter what the bumper stickers say ...

Share this post


Link to post

Bill Gates was often referred to as "Billg," his Microsoft email name. Ballmer was known around these climes as "Steveb" for the same reason. (That's when people were being polite devil.gif . Joyce DiDonato said in a master class at Carnegie Hall the other day that the "Rossini Mafia" used to call her "Miss America" behind her back.)

Figure skaters are also referred to by their first names. I hate it in print and pixels for dancers or skaters, unless the writer is a tween or younger or the performer is known by a single name, a la Madonna or Sting.

To me "Ashley" is and always will be Merrill Ashley.

Share this post


Link to post

To me "Ashley" is and always will be Merrill Ashley.

flowers.gif

I hadn't realized that figure skaters were also referred to by their first names. It doesn't surprise me, since figure skating has a lot in common with ballet, not the least of which is the youth of even its most accomplished practitioners and the fact that its spotlight shines brightest on its female stars. It wouldn't surprise me if it were the same for gymnasts, come to think of it.

Share this post


Link to post

It wouldn't surprise me if it were the same for gymnasts, come to think of it.

I don't know, though it wouldn't surprise me either. Are there any gymnastics fans here who can answer this?

Share this post


Link to post

I surfed a few 2012 gymnastics videos, and yes, it appears that at least some of the announcers are quite comfortable referring to gymnasts by their first names -- both male and female gymnasts I might add.

Gaby Douglas is "Gaby"

Jonathan Horton is "Jonathan."

Once the race starts, it's all last names in this women's 200M trial, however.

Share this post


Link to post

Much depends on context. In sports, for example, when men are referred to by first name only, it's relatively unusual and generally a sign of affection and respect (e.g. "Tiger," "Michael," "Peyton"). Referring to female athletes by first name is a little more fraught, and historically it has sometimes been an indicator of condescension. The Williams sisters are often called Venus and Serena to make sure listeners are clear on which Williams is under discussion, just as the Manning brothers are often Peyton and Eli.

I don't think it's a big deal for fans to refer to dancers by their first names in casual contexts. As a rule it is a sign of the affection and respect mentioned above and no harm done.

(There are two prominent Steves in tech, but "Steve" is never Steve Ballmer ...)

Just as in opera "Renata" was always Tebaldi and not Scotto. It's a status thing. :) In the British theater of the mid-20th century, if you heard a theater insider refer only to "John" it meant Gielgud and "Larry" was Olivier, regardless of any other Johns or Larrys lying about.

Share this post


Link to post

On the other hand, we have TAngle and JAngle for two men. It works better when the last name begins with a vowel or more rarely when both first names begin with a vowel. J. Tisserand and L. Tisserand are examples of the reason why "Mr. Tisserand" and "Ms. Tisserand" are used for married couples, except at Wimbledon.

Sarah Ricard Orza is often called Ricard Orza vs. Orza for her husband. (Less informally, it's SRO.)

Share this post


Link to post

I would think using initials and surnames would be cumbersome in an aural context and also potentially confusing, since if you aren't listening alertly you could easily miss the initial.

It's fairly unusual for professional women who've already established a public identity to assume a husband's name for professional purposes, although of course it does happen (so that even if you weren't following Sean Penn and Robin Wright's marital issues, you could keep track of things by noting when Robin Wright Penn went back to plain Robin Wright in the movie credits).

The second name thing is kind of cool, though. "Hi. I am keeping my maiden name, for lo, I am a free and independent woman. However, I thought I'd tag his name on there to let everyone know, just as helpful information, that I did catch a husband."

Share this post


Link to post

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead