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‘How are you’ and other strange greeting habits
Posted: 02 March 2007 03:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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The former, firstly because I’ve probably just forgotten Renaud Montauban’s name, secondly because even if I remembered it, I never know whether to call him Mr Montauban, or Renaud, and wouldn’t call him Renaud Montauban.  When young, I used sometimes to introduce myself as Mr Cheval, but stopped when I was told it sounded pompous (I was very impressionable in those days) and sort of lost the habit. 

BTW, thanks for suggesting a surname for my nom de web, or should that be nom de toile or nom d’internet?

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Posted: 02 March 2007 04:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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bayard - 02 March 2007 09:56 AM

I can’t remember ever receiving a letter starting Dear <first name> <surname> and would find it odd if I did.

I have and I thought it odd, too.
I think it can be indicative of a person performing a mass mailing by merging the letter into a certain format, without giving the formatting enough thought when constructing the query to the database.

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Posted: 02 March 2007 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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I have sent letters like that.  When you don’t know how the addressee wishes to be addressed (Mr.? Dr.? Mrs.? Ms.?), it’s a convenient alternative.

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Posted: 02 March 2007 08:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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And sometimes one may not even be sure of the sex, which can make choosing the appropriate honorific a real problem.

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Posted: 03 March 2007 03:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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With Dr, of course, you don’t have to worry.  At school we had two “Dr Gregory"s on the teaching staff, who were husband and wife.  (Confusion was avoided by the use of nicknames, mostly)
BTW, does “Doctor” have a feminine form?  I’ve never come across it, but I seem to remember the wife being referred to as Drx Gregory.

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Posted: 05 March 2007 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Dr. Techie - 28 February 2007 03:22 PM

The instructors at Sandhurst are notoriously rough on their charges, royal or not.  One was quoted some time ago, in reference to Prince Harry, as saying “I will call him ‘sir’ and he will call me ‘sir’, but only one of us will mean it.”

Mr Lord (= RSM Lord or Warrant Officer First Class Lord) also varied the traditional admonition ‘You horrible man!’ to ‘You horrible monarch!’

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Posted: 10 March 2007 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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I’ve just realised that there is at least one instance where someone is regularly addressed by first name and surname — the guest on Desert Island Discs, a long-standing programme on Radio 4. Of course, it’s done to remind the audience who the guest is, but other programmes don’t do this. If there are several guests, the presenter may use first name and surname at the beginning, or when returning to guest number one after speaking to guest number two, but I can’t think of any other programme where there is only one guest and that guest is regularly addressed by first name and surname. Usually the presenter addresses the guest by their first name, or exceptionally title plus last name, and occasionally reminds the audience by saying, ‘My guest today is first name + surname.’

The current presenter, Kirsty Young, does it, as did Sue Lawley;I never heard Roy Plomley, but I’d guess it was one of his mannerisms that the others picked up.

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Posted: 10 March 2007 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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On “My Word”, a BBC radio programme which I loved above all others, the announcer (as presenters were once called) would frequently address the participants by first name and surname --- even though two of the participants (Dennis Norden and Frank Muir) were permanent fixtures; others came and went. Presumably, as kurwamac surmises, this was to remind listeners who the participants were. I find the first name+surname combination a useful way of addressing people whom I have found on the Internet or other public medium, and am approaching for the first time. It eliminates all distinctions of sex, title, rank, or whatever, very matter-of-factly, and I find it neither over-familiar nor over-distant.

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Posted: 10 March 2007 10:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Does Spanish have “Doctora?”

I don’t know, but Italian has ”Dottoressa”. About twenty years ago a cousin of mine was researching for her thesis on Renaissance art in Venice (nice work if you can get it), and reported that one of the most agreeable features of working at an Italian university was being addressed as “Gentilissima Dottoressa”, with the prospect of becoming a “gentilissima professoressa” as soon as she achieved her PhD. As my cousin was a rather beautiful pale-skinned redhead (think Cate Blanchett in ”Elizabeth”), her family could well imagine her floating down the Grand Canal in a gondola, being hailed as “Most Gracious Doctoress” by crowds of admiring Venetians.

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Posted: 11 March 2007 06:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Michael Krasny, host of “Forum” on KQED in San Francisco (and widely syndicated on public radio stations in the US) also uses both the first and surnames when addressing guests. Now that I think about it, this seems to be a common radio technique and I think it has more to do with identifying the guests to listeners who tune in late than as a degree of formality.

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Posted: 11 March 2007 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Syntinen Laulu - 10 March 2007 10:48 PM

Does Spanish have “Doctora?”

I don’t know, but Italian has ”Dottoressa”. About twenty years ago a cousin of mine was researching for her thesis on Renaissance art in Venice (nice work if you can get it), and reported that one of the most agreeable features of working at an Italian university was being addressed as “Gentilissima Dottoressa”, with the prospect of becoming a “gentilissima professoressa” as soon as she achieved her PhD. As my cousin was a rather beautiful pale-skinned redhead (think Cate Blanchett in ”Elizabeth”), her family could well imagine her floating down the Grand Canal in a gondola, being hailed as “Most Gracious Doctoress” by crowds of admiring Venetians.

This reminds me of the old Roman system of honorifics, much expanded on by the Byzantine successors of Constantine. The latter’s ranks, descending from consuls and the emperor’s ministers downwards, included: Illustrissimi, Spectabiles, (the Respectables), Clarissimi (which, Gibbon comments, we may translate as Honourable), Perfectissimi, and Egregius.

I quite like the last one. “May I present the Egregious Aldiboronti”.

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Posted: 11 March 2007 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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I like that. So many people think that ‘egregious’ is inherently negative, when of course it isn’t anything of the kind.

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Posted: 11 March 2007 09:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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kurwamac - 11 March 2007 02:25 PM

I like that. So many people think that ‘egregious’ is inherently negative, when of course it isn’t anything of the kind.

No words have intrinsic meanings, do they? If they did, I don’t see that etymology would exist, so I’m not sure what you mean by “inherently negative.” In this case the Latin meaning and the current English meaning are different. That doesn’t mean the current English meaning is wrong. According to my dictionary egregious means “Conspicuously bad or offensive.” Sounds pretty negative to me.

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Posted: 12 March 2007 04:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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"Egregious” originally mean “standing out from the herd” --- in the Byzantine sense used by aldi, “outstanding” would be a fairly close rendering. Nowadays people tend to use it in a negative sense (if they use it at all --- I don’t recall having heard it much in casual conversation): “egregious folly”, “egregious ass” (I think that last was somewhere in P.G.Wodehouse, but wouldn’t swear to it). Latter-day usage has tended to weigh it down with negative connotations which weren’t there to begin with. I doubt if anyone would speak nowadays of “egregious bravery” or “egregious generosity”, without risking being suspected of name-calling (except by kurwamac ;-). I think aldi put his finger on the equivocal nature of the word rather neatly, with his example.

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Posted: 12 March 2007 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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It’s interesting to note the cite from Thomas Nashe in OED, Egregious, 3, remarkable in a bad sense, etc.

1593 NASHE Four Lett. Confut. 67 Egregious is neuer used in english but in the extreame ill part.

Nashe was a few centuries premature in his comment however, as evidenced in OED, Egregious, 2, remarkable in a good sense, etc. The several cites include this 19th century example from Thackeray.

1855 THACKERAY Newcomes I. 122 When he wanted to draw..some one splendid and egregious, it was Clive he took for a model.

OED marks the latter sense as ‘obsolete except in humorously pedantic use’, but the two senses clearly co-existed for many centuries, although, as indicated by Nashe, the ill sense seems to have predominated.

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