First names (was: SIGNIFICANT OTHER)

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sat Apr 13 11:32:49 UTC 2002

>Since most such stories are hearsay, I think it behooves me to tell
>one I know for a fact.

On of my PhD classmates form Wisconsin,  a semisouthern yokel like
me, left our studies with some desire to have his new-found status
held in some regard. When he reached the institution of his first
employment (as it would happen, a semisouthern site itself), he
promptly put his name in the local telephone directory as "Dr.
William J. Smith" (not his real name, so don't go lookin).

It did, in fact, happen that about 3:00 AM, no more than  a few
months after moving, that a local, urgent voice entreated "Dr. Smith"
to come quick since "the missus was a-having a baby."

The next issue of the phone book listed a Mr. Smith at the same address.


>So are Ph.D.s, which includes a lot of us on this list.  But I'd venture to
>say that when we're sick, most of us speak of "going to the doctor" without
>the slightest fear that anyone will think we're going to see another Ph.D.
>about our flu, broken leg, etc.  Saying "doctors and dentists" seems to me
>to make it crystal clear that the colloquial sense of "doctor"
>('physician') is meant rather than the technical sense ('someone with any
>doctoral degree').
>--On Friday, April 12, 2002 4:40 PM -0400 Robert Fitzke
><fitzke at MICHCOM.NET> wrote:
>>(1) dentists ARE doctors (the usage is almost universal, but is simply
>>misleading)---the phrase should probably be dentists and physicians;
>                               Peter A. McGraw
>                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
>                            pmcgraw at

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
740 Wells Hall A
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office - (517) 353-0740
Fax - (517) 432-2736

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