Wednesday, 4 August 2010

How to address a stranger

How do you address a stranger? If it's a man, you call him "Sir". If it's a woman, you're out of luck. Say "Miss" and you offend the married ones, "Mrs" and you offend the unmarried ones. "Ms" is just weird and "Ma'am" offends just about everyone. The only other one I can think of is "M'Lady" which is too old-fashioned to be taken seriously.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Maybe we need something new.
PPS - Same as we need a gender-neutral impersonal pronoun.


Erin Marie said...

What about 'Oi! You!'

John said...

Hmm. Might offend some people, especially those with official titles like "Your Honour".

Robin Gravel said...

How about Hi or Hello. Maybe not.

John said...

Hi or Hello is a decent greeting, and there are plenty of situations where you can leave out a pronoun and nothing sounds amiss, but every now and then you need something to fill in for a name you don't know. I'd love to have words like that, because I'm so afraid of getting names wrong with casual acquaintances that it's become a habit to hardly ever use names at all.

Robin Gravel said...


John said...

Madam, being the expansion of "ma'am", still runs the risk of offending younger women, or women who consider themselves young.

Or men who look like women.