Thursday, September 20, 2012

Give "Miss" a miss

Every perpetrator of the Nigerian e-mail scam knows how to address total strangers with respect, but students I barely know can't be stopped from addressing me as "Hey, Bev!" Why is this?

And why, after four weeks of class, do I have students who insist on calling me "Miss Hogue" or, worse, "Miss Hog" or "Miss Hue"? We're not in high school, folks! It's not safe to assume that all female professors want to be called "Miss"! And for heaven's sake, my name is not that difficult to pronounce! If I can learn to distinguish between all the Chelseas and Kelsies and Dantes and Coles, there's no reason you can't figure out how to say Hogue!

I was sitting outside in the sunshine grading papers just now when a student walked past and cheerfully called out, "Hi Miss Hue!" At first I wanted to say "I miss you too," but I just saw him in class this morning so I really don't. 

I'd like to miss "Miss"--and "Hey" too, while we're at it. I'm waiting for someone to call out "Hey Miss Hue," to which there would be only one appropriate response: "Gesundheit!"



Contingent Cassandra said...

"Miss" seems to be making a comeback. As a middle-aged woman who has never been married, I always found being addressed as "Mrs." a bit disconcerting, but at least it made increasing sense as I got older, since the chances that I had been married at some point increased, and, especially since a number of my students come from cultures where honorifics for women have more to do with age and authority than with marital status, it made a certain sort of sense. I never could get students to use my preferred "Ms.", perhaps in part because in our part of the country the pronunciation of "Mrs." is pretty similar. But in the last year or two, I, too, have noticed more people -- students and others on campus -- calling me "Miss." While technically correct (though not what I prefer), I find it even more disconcerting, especially since I'm nearly 50, with the graying hair to prove it. It's the one of the few times I appreciate the option of asking to be called "Dr."

Bev said...

And "Miss" reminds me of my brief, unhappy life as a waitress, when the isolated honorific served as the semi-polite equivalent of "Hey, you!"