First names Ms. and Miss

Johnson, Ellen ejohnson at BERRY.EDU
Fri Apr 12 20:52:45 UTC 2002

they should take into account the feelings of those who get riled up over the idea that it is still important to label women, but not men, by their marital status.  hmpf!
thank god I come from a region where Mrs. and Ms. are phonologically indistinguishable, so I can't tell what they're calling me.
Dennis, here is the case where I self-righteously trot out the "Dr.", when people ask whether they should call me "miss" or "mrs.".


Ellen Johnson
Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Dept. of English, Rhetoric, and Writing
Berry College, Box 350
Mt. Berry, GA 30149
ejohnson at

-----Original Message-----
From: Joanne M. Despres [mailto:jdespres at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM]
Sent: Friday, April 12, 2002 4:32 PM
Subject: Re: First names Ms. and Miss

I think it's true that a lot of women would object to "Ms.," and it's
my impression is that some people use the default "Mrs." when
they aren't sure about a woman's marital status in order to avoid
giving offense.  (I'm pretty sure Fred Mish called me "Mrs.
Despres" when he called me for my job interview ten years ago,
before he knew better.)   I tend to see it as a holdover from the
days when not being married was considered an embarrassment
for a woman.   It's an annoying presumption to be sure, but some
folks might actually be taking the interocutor's feelings into


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