Kranz On Copy made me think about titles and pronouns. I always pronounce “Messers” in my head as “mess-ers.” Thankfully, I never need to say this word out loud. I embarrass myself enough times mispronouncing things.
Recently, I emailed an editor of a newsletter about the Ms., Mr., and Mrs. issue. Some situations call for formally addressing a person, but it’s risky because today so many names could be female or male. Sean (Young) and Michael (Learned), for example. I work with NYU’s online masters program that has many international students in the program. It has happened a few times when I thought someone was female then later learned the person was male and vice versa.
That’s why I struggled with naming my middle child. I liked a name, but wondered if people would think he was a girl. It worked out and it has not been a problem. My name… I get letters addressed to Mr. Meryl Evans at least once a month. The male variation is Merrill.
The he / she situation is also frustrating. I typically do what I can to avoid using either without substituting “their” when it’s referring to ONE person. But when it is not possible to avoid he or she, then I pick one. Can we have a word to represent both genders in singular form?!?! Can we use M. to represent all titles (Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Miss)?