Miss, Mrs or Ms?

I once worked for a publishing company that insisted on the use of Ms, pronounced Mizz, to refer to a woman, rather than Mrs or Miss. Personally, I don’t think Mizz is a word in the English language, and so I cannot accept that Mizz is a correct title. We have been brainwashed into thinking that minx-like linguistic standards are now compulsory. They are not. There is nothing wrong with the traditional family – it is part of the natural order for the husband to be the head of the family, and we should certainly insist on the traditionally correct naming standards, e.g. Jane married to John Smith is Mrs John Smith, not Mrs Jane Smith. But as there are increasing numbers of women who do not reveal their marital status, I would suggest that if Mrs or Miss is deemed unacceptable, we use the correct 18th-century term, Mistress. This would apply to all women, married or not, and is the word from which Miss and Mrs are derived. In fact, where Ms is written, it should be deemed the abbreviation of Mistress, and read as Mistress, not Mizz, just as Mr is read out loud as Mister.

In the Irish context, there are two points to make. Firstly, there are no Irish equivalents of these words. An tUasal Seán Ó Briain is simply a nonsense in Irish, unless Seán Ó Briain is a nobleman, as the phrase literally means “the Nobleman, Seán Ó Briain”. I can’t for the life of me work out why some people use these forms. Another point is that in the Gaelic tradition, women retain their names throughout their lives. Máire Ní Cheallaigh retains that name even if she marries Seán Ó Briain. Attempts to “translate” Mrs O’Brien into Irish and come up with something like Máire, Bean Uí Bhriain, or Máire Uí Bhriain, are simply not Irish at all. Mr, Mrs, Miss and Ms do not have Irish equivalents.

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