ADS-L Digest - 28 Jun 2004 to 29 Jun 2004 (#2004-182)

Lynne Murphy M.L.Murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Wed Jun 30 11:59:40 UTC 2004

--On Wednesday, June 30, 2004 7:46 am -0400 David Bowie <db.list at PMPKN.NET>

> Actually, "Ms" may not be an abbreviation for all (or at least most) of us
> on this list, but i suggest that for many (if not most) real people, "Ms"
> is an abbreviation for "Miss".
> In fact, i know that that's what i thought it was until i was a few years
> into grad school, even!

Part of the reason that some people think it's an abbreviation is that in
some dialects 'miss' sounds like 'miz'.  I once co-taught a course in
Illinois with someone who was called Ms X (not so much protecting the
innocent as that I can't remember her name).  She took a half week off, and
reappeared with a wedding ring.  After this, all of the students started
putting "Mrs X" on their essays.  She asked why, figuring (a) Ms is
marital-status-neutral, and (b) if they were going to call her Mrs
something, wouldn't they need to know her husband's surname?  This was a
foundation course, and the students were either from inner cities (mostly
African American) or very rural areas--both groups pronounced 'miss' as
'miz' and just thought that Ms was abbreviated Miss.  They were quite
surprised to learn otherwise.


Dr M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics

Department of Linguistics and English Language
Arts B133
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN
>>From UK:  (01273) 678844
Outside UK: +44-1273-678844

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