[Ads-l] unisex "Sir"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 11 03:57:56 UTC 2015


A similar question about unisex "Sir" was asked on the
english.stackexchange.com website in 2013.

Short link:  http://bit.ly/1RMZheM
http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/121727/can-sir-be-used-to-address-female-officers

[Begin excerpt; question asked August 6, 2013]
On several recent television shows in the US, the term sir has been
used by a police officer to address his or her supervisor who was
female. In the context, the use was sincere and was not objected to by
the superior.

Has the use of sir when addressing a superior female in a military or
quasi-military setting become acceptable, or is this merely literary
license?
[End excerpt]

Respondents stated that "Sir" was not used when addressing female
superiors in the military; instead, "Ma'am" was used.

One respondent gave two examples of "Sir" used to reference women from
television shows.

[Begin excerpt]
Starting in Season 4, episode 1, on January 10, 2011, in the show
"Castle", Penny Johnson Jerald, as the new captain, Victoria "Iron"
Gates, insists upon the use of "sir".

The first time I heard it used on TV was in 1992, Star Trek The Next
Generation, the episode "The First Duty" when the trial president, a
female, was addressed as "sir" by all others.

In NCIS, did Jenny, as Director, tell her subordinate she was to be
addressed as "sir or director" ? I think so.
[End excerpt]

Garson

On Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 10:39 PM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: unisex "Sir"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Supergirl, of course, takes place now, rather than in a sci-fi future.
>
> So I suspect the usage is more widespread.
>
> JL
>
> On Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 10:19 PM, W Brewer <brewerwa at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       W Brewer <brewerwa at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: unisex "Sir"
>>
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> Strange how we still pass out Master's degrees to the ladies. Something
>> should be done about that.
>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>
>
>
>
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
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