"Obsolete," but still in use

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 20 16:27:26 UTC 2006

On The People's Court, a twenty-ish black male defendant continually
addresses or refers to the forty-ish black female plaintiff as "Miss
Audrey" before immediately correcting himself to "Mizz Johnson," to
such an extent that even the judge inadvertently says, "Miss Audrey,
Mrs. Johnson." The courtroom environment probably interferes with the
man''s use of the usual format. Both people are from Florida.

I remember "Miss [woman's first name]" as the standard way of formally
addressing or referring to a woman, whether black or white, down home
in Texas. I think that this locution is / was also used by Southern
whites, though not when speaking to or of black women, of course.

Everybody says, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange
complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is knows how deep
a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our
race. He brought death into the world.

--Sam Clemens

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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