Proper Usage of Miss

Subject: Proper Usage of Miss
From: Paulette Hacker <PauletteH -at- SYNERGEX -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 09:46:00 -0800

I believe you are talking about cultural usage, possibly even regional
(Southern, Midwestern?). "Miss" is used in the south quite a bit, in
reference to women, even married ones. In the case of a "lower-status" woman
who is speaking of or to a "higher-status" woman, it is generally sign of
respect. It can also indicate the speaker views the relationship from the
standpoint of a caregiver, maternal observer or "more mature" person. From a
male point of view, calling a woman "miss" may indicate similar status
positioning, or be a sign of the generally protective, fatherly, or
respectful (status again) attitude toward the woman being addressed. Also
remember, many children in the South/Midwest are still taught to address ALL
women as "Miss <firstname>"

Purely by definition, correct usage dictates that Ms or Mrs be used as
titles for use when addressing a married woman and Miss with young or
unmarried women. However, I cannot recall ever having heard a Southern
person use either of these. (Perhaps that being a limitation of my
exposure.) The use of Ms or Mrs may originally have been a "Northern" or UK
convention. It could also be that at some point the use of these two titles
was dismissed or abandoned in certain regions, (namely, those that
predominantly use Miss).

Regardless of the above, (this is not a flame, just some unsolicited advice)
if you are nit-picking verbal usage in Texas you may be "aiming your wooden
lance and charging you scrawny, swayback horse toward a windmill." In other
words, you may want to find a more relevant battle in which to invest your
energies. I learned long ago to avoid correcting other people's verbal
communication even though I was writhing and convulsing on the inside as
they mutilated the English language like demon-possessed serial killers.

If this is a written "problem" and the text is remaining "regional." I'd
still say you are eyeballing a windmill. If, on the other hand, you are
talking about communications that are being sent to other countries or to
Western or more Northern customers then I would suggest you take a more
practical approach than chastising the "title abusers." You may want to
research the issue more. However, I would do so in terms of the effect this
may have on how your company is perceived. If this creates a negative
perception (which I would tend to doubt in most cases), put together an
"informational package" about effective business usage (note I did not say
CORRECT usage!), and have a very polite talk with your boss about a training
issue.

**Just my 2.12 cents. Please note, increases are based on a 6 % inflationary
rate **
** and may be unexpectedly subjected to the whims of federal regulatory
bodies. **

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=




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