Thursday, August 22, 2013
On horrific honorifics
Personally, I don't care what the Big Kahuna calls me as long as my paycheck doesn't bounce, and I'm not sure why honorifics needed to be used at all in this instance. Why not just use names? We're all adults here! But if titles are used, they ought to be consistent.
The administrator in questions mentioned a number of employees both orally and in writing (on PowerPoint slides), but the usage was far from consistent. Employees who do not hold a Ph.D. were referred to as Mr. or Ms. OR by first and last names alone, while employees who hold a Ph.D. were referred to as either Dr. or Prof--and this is where it gets tricky.
First I thought he was using Dr. to refer to administrators and Prof. to refer to faculty, but no: he used Dr. for several faculty members (all male!) and Prof. for several administrators (all female--coincidence?).
He used Dr. for the only female member of the cabinet and also for male cabinet members and male professors--but female professors holding a Ph.D. were universally labelled Prof.
So here, as best as I can figure out, is the pattern: any male with a Ph.D. is Dr., and the sole woman on the cabinet is also Dr. (and perhaps therefore an honorary male), while any other woman with a Ph.D. is a Prof., even if she's an administrator.
Now that we've got that straightened out, will someone please remind me what century we're living in?