Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wordplay Wednesday™ February 10, 2016 – Doyenne

What did you call me?

Are personal titles becoming obsolete? Once upon a time in a world that seems so far, far, away, we addressed each other formally (especially in public) with societal or royal titles. Just call me …

DOYENNE (doi enʹ, dwä yenʹ; female version of DOYEN, doiʹɘn) – n.: [French] the senior member of a group, esp. one regarded as an authority because of superior knowledge and long experience. [WW#46]

Well, I can claim the looonng experience anyway. And I much prefer doyenne to “Dame” (British female equivalent of knighthood) or “Madam” (more popular as the US “authority” of a bordello).

“Sir,” “Madam,” “Miss,” “Mr.,” “Mrs.” or “Ms.,” were once common forms of addressing each other, and still appear on forms – but do you ever checkmark those boxes anymore?

Compared to Europe where royal titles – king/queen, prince/princess, duke/duchess and such – are the stuff of fairytales and have been in use for eons, the US is a young whippersnapper. When it comes to protocol, we tend to be bold, and some would call us discourteous, or even insolent (or is that just me?).

And though there are many more titles applied in the US than you might know, their uses have all but faded from our daily vernacular.

Born-n-bred Californian in the Sixties, my generation reveled in rebellion and anything to rile a teacher. One particularly bold male student brazenly called our fresh-out-of-college, attractive English teacher, “Julie-baby.” Just once.

Since the Sixties, formal titles have faded into the fabric of life as adornments trotted out for special occasions – or the occasional snide remark – “Oh, yes SIR, Officer.”

Although, we still use President, Senator, and Representative for instance, to elevate our political “royalty.”

Will personal titles bounce back after our generation has entered its last checkmark in the identifying box of life? I think not. You see, the Millennial generation is every bit as defiant and contentious as we were ...

Ciao for now, Mrs. McGillicuddy.


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