Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Mister E

Can anyone explain to me why we persist in using honorifics? That is, why do we still address correspondence to "Mr Vader" rather than just to "Steph/ven D. Vader"?

Apparently, the use of an honorific is a mark of respect, as indeed the term 'honorific' would imply. However, anyone who has been either a teacher or a school pupil must surely know that one can quite easily imbue mister with tones of the utmost contempt.

And, yes, there are a few cases where something might be lost in specific cases - namely where someone has a 'special' honorific, such as "Lord Vader". But that's easily solved - just use a special honorific if indeed the person has indeed earned that honorific.

But for the rest of us, all they add is hassle. Especially when addressing women: is it Mrs, Miss, Ms, or indeed Mx? (And how does one even pronounce Ms? And while the use of the wild-card in Mx is quite clever, shouldn't it really be M*?)

It's not like "Mr Vader" really identifies me all that clearly: I have three brothers all of whom are equally Mr Vader, and I have three nephews who in time will likewise be Mr Vader. (Dad Vader being one of those people with a 'special' honorific.) So, really, you still need at least my first initial, at which point you might as well just use my full name.

(And "John Smith" is hardly going to be better identified as "Mr John Smith"!)

In theory, I suppose, there's marginal value where a couple share the same initial, in which case you could have "Mr S Vader" and "Mrs S Vader", where simply addressing to "S Vader" is unclear. Alternately, though, you could solve the problem using "Steph/ven Vader" and "Someone/else Vader"... or is that a crazy thought?

Of course, mostly this is motivated by sheer laziness - typing LC each time is just far too much effort, where using just C would be much more convenient...

(Incidentally, in case you weren't sure, my surname isn't really Vader. But when choosing a stand-in surname I only had two candidates. The other being Prime. And 'D' is a more believable middle initial than 'O'.)


Captain Ric said...

I'm certainly not "equally" Mr Vader. There's a pecking order, and I've pecked you, baby!

Steph/ven said...

Bah! Your powers are weak old man!