Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Etiquette for the uninitiated

Styles and Titles. First in a series

Living in a 19th century world such as Caledon comes with a mix of blessings and hazards all their own. In what I hope will be a series of ongoing entries, I am going to spend some time looking at a variety of etiquette questions.

My first foray into the subject is forms of address or "styles". Most people, assuming you can tell the sex of the addressee from their name or their physical characteristics (and it's not always easy, especially with tinies), can work out the basic forms of Mister (Mr.) and what seems to have become the default address for the fairer sex of Miss. On occasion there are those who will let you know that they are in fact a Missus (Mrs.).

It's when we move on to other styles of address that things start to become less clear for many. I will stay away from the intricacies of courtesy titles and members of religious orders and just look at the broader usage.

Recently there were three new initiates into the rank of Knight, which again raised the issue of how they should properly be addressed. Knights are addressed as "Sir" (or in the case of a lady "Dame") followed by their first name. They should never be addressed using their last name unless it is used in addition to the first name. For example the proper mode of address would be Sir Telamachus or Sir Telamachus Dean, NOT Sir Dean.

"Lady" is always a difficult one for use of either first or last name as the style depends on the reason for the title. A Marchioness, Countess, Viscountess or Baroness should properly be addressed as "Lady" followed by the Placename (e.g. Baroness Bardhaven should properly be addressed as Lady Bardhaven rather than Lady Collingwood). The wife of a Knight or a Baronet would be addressed with "Lady" followed by the surname of her husband. Whereas if the lady is the daughter of a noble then the style of "Lady" followed by her first name should be used, with a "The" added for the eldest daughter (eg. The Lady Sarah).

"Lord" is another style that covers a multitude of titles: Marquess (or Marquis for French and American readers, or Margrave for Germans), Earl (the equivalent of a Count), Viscount and Baron are all addressed as "Lord [placename]". Baronets are addressed as Sir as, even though the title is hereditary, they're not considered a peer.

Dukes and Duchesses should be addressed as "Your Grace" if you aren't a peer yourself, or as "Duke [placename]" if you are a peer. The placename can also help distinguish which end of the sandwich which of the Duchesses or Dukes you are referring to if there is more than one present at the time.

Another Title to be aware of around Caledon is Vicereine. A Vicereine is the female form of a Viceroy and a representative of the ruler (usually a King, though in our case the Guvnah). A Viceroy should be addressed as Your Excellency.

Recent interaction with Neualtenburg has raised the question the form of address for the Kaiserin. Suggestions of Teutonic Hussy and Pointy Hatted Goblin aside, she should formally be referred to as "Your Imperial Majesty" though I am still awaiting confirmation on this. Oddly my letters not been responded to. Perhaps she's tied up with other things.

Oh and lastly, The Guvnah of Caledon should properly be addressed as Des (or Desmond) though he will usually reply with "Gah! IM storm!" or something of the equivalent.


emillyorr said...

Oh and lastly, The Guvnah of Caledon should properly be addressed as Des (or Desmond) though he will usually reply with "Gah! IM storm!" or something of the equivalent.

::giggles hysterically::

Yes, even when one is standing facing him. Though I do entirely sympathise, being frequently a victim of the dreaded IM storm myself.

Abigail Raymaker said...

Thank you Mr. Pearse for this very interesting entry. The only thing I do not understand is why the Governor of Caledon should be adressed as "Des[mond]". Wouldn't "Governor" or "Mr. Governor" be more appropriate?

Kendra Bancroft said...

'Your Majesty: will certainly suffice, if Caledon recognizes us as a Kingdom. If, however, Caledon still views us as as a Grand Duchy --then they do not actually recognize me as "Kaiserin" (spelled K-A-I-S-E-R-I-N), but would recognize me as a Grand Duchess ==in which case it would be "Your Highness". as opposed to my cousins Eva and Gabrielle who would be "Your Grace".

Ranma said...

Someone needs to do a chart with all of the positions and titles. A problem is that addressing someone as "Lord, Lady or my liege" is not brown nosing but social contract.
I was granted my land directly by Governor Shang (Long Live our wise Leader!) and pay my taxes directly to him. Thus chart of who is what would be most beneficial to not only myself but the other landed gentry.

Edward Pearse said...

Miss Raymaker, all countries have their own peculiarities of title. The head of Caledon has always spelt it "Guvnah" not "Governor" so I will defer to his wishes on the matter. And while being extremely formal then Guvnah Shang would be more correct, however I again defer to his wishes.

Your Highness, so noted. And I'm glad you have been able to drag yourself away from what ever it was that was holding your... attention.

Ranma, calling someone "My Lord" is a social contract, calling someone "Lord Suchandsuch" is manners, not an oath of fealty.

Her Grace, Eva Bellambi said...

Thank you for this very well written and informative post, Sir Edward. I thank you for the much needed clarification.

As to the sandwich...I believe you have yet to be ...
Oh well, we may speak of this on a private channel with Duchess Cartaigh.


Amber_Palowakski said...

Thank you, Captain Pearse. Another formality, if you are introducing one of the nobility, such as to a formal affair, is to use this formula, well, anyways at least for a baroness such as myself... Amber Lady Palowakski, Baroness of Bauerhoff de Caledon.
While it is technically correct to call me Lady Bauerhoff, I usually prefer the less formal "Lady Amber", especially from my friends.

Frequency Picnic said...

Well, I find it all very confusing and hope people will forgive my inevitable missteps. If only a person's proper title would show up under "inspect"...then I might have a chance of getting it right!

Edward Pearse said...

Lady Amber, one overiding point about the use of titles and the like is that the wishes of the individual be respected. Thus I refer to you as Lady Amber and, while it would be more correct to refer to the Guvnah of Caledon as "Your Excellency" I follow his wishes and call him Des.

Virrginia Tombola said...

My apologies if you have seen this already on the Caledon blog, but here is a nice page, with a chart even :)


As always, however, politeness is valued over etiquette. So, Miss Picnic, do not despair! Frankly, should you never get any terms of address correct, your cheerful good nature and the fact that you were trying would be more than enough.

Jaeger Edelweiss said...

Top marks for posting this as I think we are all the better off for knowing these finer details. I myself am guilty of a few errors in this regard (how embarrassing) that I will now endeavor to correct. Two points -
* Isn't 'Ms.' said "Mzzz" or Madam the default title for women, so as not to offend women who are Married, Divorced or Spinsters with the title 'Miss'?
* You probably had planned to do this, but if not, I thought you may like to mention how miltary rank effects style and title (Peerage, Rank, Knighthood), for example: Lord Admiral Sir Horatio Hornblower.

Thanks again for this keen work Sir Edward.


Darien Mason said...

And some of us are called Doctor because we worked very hard to earn our degrees.

*nods solemnly*

ZenMondo Wormser said...

This was a great Post Sir Edward! Thank you so much. I've picked up most of this, just by asking (in the most polite way imaginable) and basicaly following the leads of others.

emillyorr said...

Well, sometimes Madam is a job title...


Edward Pearse said...

Miss Tombola and excellent link. It really does get into the indepth details. And as many of the ettiquette books of the day showed, even people living this life had trouble understanding the nuances.

Herr Edelweiss, Ms. is a modern invention that didn't come into usage until the 1960s.

Dr. Mason I might point out that your work with human anatomy might be considered to be *surgery* rather than medicine? As such (and as is still the case today) a surgeon moves from being addressed as Doctor to being addressed as Mister again.

Virrginia Tombola said...

Miss Orr, thank you for this morning's giggle :)

Herr Jaegar (that is the correct address for a German man with a rank, correct? I remember the squadron hauptmann in Blue Max being called "mein Herr Hauptmann". But I digress)
re: "Miss/Mrs/Ms" I cannot speak for the other women here, but in RL, I go by Ms. But this is the Victorian world, and that title doesn't exist here. Perhaps it's the influence of all those 19th century novels I read, but frankly I prefer the sound of "Miss"--it speaks to a certain level of etiquette to me. "Ms" is what appears on my real life billing notices :P.

Around Caledon, "Miss" seems the default address, with married women happy to correct if needed. Of course, in the actual period, a man would not meet an unmarried woman without an introduction, at least not at the social level most of us portray (and for the record, I approve of the Caledonian lack of formality in that regard).

Edward Pearse said...

I'll cover some points on rank in the next instalment Miss Tombola, but for now Herr is a German honourific (in a similar sense to the Japanese "-san"). Hauptmann is a rank the equivalent of Captain. If you were adressing Herr Edelweiss in a military capacity it would be Herr Rittmeister.

emillyorr said...

Miss Tombola, you are more than welcome.

To be fair, as much as I adore the formality of proper approaches, and do desire to learn, I do have to struggle against the natural inclination just to hide under some suitably stationary object and throw random bones until the person with the title I can't figure out departs.

But then, I am not exactly civilized, much of the time. :)

Dvora Tardis said...

Miss Picnic, I know exactly how you feel.

As a new citizen, I have found myself in the mortifying situation of saying (in an attempt to be polite) "Good Evening, Mr Pearce" at a ball, only to hear "Sir Edward" from everyone else. Noöne mentions it; they are all most gracious, but I still feel quite embarrassed.