Dear madam [to honorary ambassador?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by César Lasso, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. César Lasso Senior Member

    Madrid (España)
    castellano, España
    Hi!

    I'd like to write to a lady who is honorary ambassador to her country in Spain (we do not have an official embassy for that country). We do not know each other.

    Is it appropriate to start the letter with "Dear madam"?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    Yes, I would say so. What country is this by the way?
     
  3. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    You can look at different suggestions easily on the internet. I agree with Tazzler that "madame" is appropriate. The full address would read "Dear madame Ambassador" for most countries. The search term I used was "titles of address for ambassadors".
     
  4. César Lasso Senior Member

    Madrid (España)
    castellano, España
    Thank you two.

    The country is Uzbekistan and this lady is very cosmopolitan and travelled.

    I thought it was "madam". Maybe more French-like, "madame", seems more formal.

    I don't know if writing the whole formula "Dear madame AMBASSADOR" since there is no official embassy.
     
  5. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    Wait, Cesar, I misspelled "madam". I don't think you'll need "madame" though you should check for "Uzbekistan".
     
  6. César Lasso Senior Member

    Madrid (España)
    castellano, España
    No need "madam"? I don't understand that check for Uzbekistan.

    What I know about Uzbekistan is that although it is muslim world, the State is secular and there must be many orthodox christians and atheists as well.

    I don't think this young lady is fluent in Spanish although she is representing Uzbek interests to Spain. According to my informations, she must be absolutely fluent in English.
     
  7. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    No, Cesar, I misspelled the word as "madame". That's wrong. It should be "madam" if she's an English speaker.
     
  8. ehocity

    ehocity New Member

    Hi Cesar Lasso,

    I think, it would be fine you would say Dear Madam, as long as in head of the letter you would mention to whom it is addressed.
    I think that will be ok with her :)

    Thank you.
     
  9. César Lasso Senior Member

    Madrid (España)
    castellano, España
    Thanks for your replies.

    I'm thinking of addressing her as "Dear madam ambassador". In Portugal where I live, when you doubt the addressing, you automatically put it one degree higher. In Spain that strategy is not that automatical but can be well received.

    She is doing the job of an ambassador, so I think she might receive my addressing with a kind smile even if I was wrong. You live there, Ehocity. What do you think? ;)
     
  10. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    You do not know her, but, presumably, you know her name

    Address the letter to

    Señora Firstname Surname
    Honorary Ambassador to the Republic of Uzbekistan
    Rest of the address

    Dear Señora Surname

    I would reserve Dear Madam (not madam) for letters where I do not know the addressee's name. I would see it as a matter of courtesy to use the local form of address (... Señora ...) rather than to write only in English (Dear Mrs Surname). That also avoids the problems that arise when dealing with speakers of languages that use Miss and Mrs differently from English. I could write politely to a 90-years old English spinster as Miss, but might be thought rude doing the same to an equivalent Italian.
     
  11. sandpiperlily

    sandpiperlily Senior Member

    The solution to this problem is to always use "Ms." This is a modern, respectful title which does not depend on a woman's age or marital status (and which implies that a woman's status should and address not depend on her marital status to begin with).
     
  12. César Lasso Senior Member

    Madrid (España)
    castellano, España
    Well, in that case I think the Ms. should not be in Spanish but in Uzbek or Russian, the latter being the lingua franca all over Uzbekistan, where they speak different languages according to the region. Maybe Ehocity, who lives there, could send me that Russian treatment in a private message, for me to mix it with my English letter.
     
  13. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I would not use "Ms." in this instance; it's peculiar to English-speaking countries and is not in my opinion suitable in these circumstances where you are addressing someone of ambassadorial rank (even if unofficial) representing a central Asian country (Uzbekistan) in a continental European one (Spain). Indeed, I don't think it would be appropriate even if she were American or British. Dear Madam Ambassador is, in my view, the proper form of address here.
     
  14. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    A bit of a risk of going off topic, but I certainly would not address the Honorary Ambassador as Ms. I would suggest that it is only seen as respectful by some English speakers. I know plenty of married women who object very strongly to being addressed as Ms. Your solution may suit you, but I'm afraid it is not a panacea.
     
  15. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    I suggested Señora because she lives in Spain. I would not expect to use a Russian word in an English letter posted to somebody in Spain. If you are thinking of going down that route, I would change my mind and agree with Parla Dear Madam Ambassador.
     
  16. sandpiperlily

    sandpiperlily Senior Member

    I agree that "Madam Ambassador" is probably the best option for this particular context.

    I was just trying to say that "Ms." solves the general question of whether to address a woman as Miss / Mrs. when you don't know her age, marital status, or preference for title. I understand that not all women agree on this, but I think it's the least risky option, especially in professional situations -- it's never incorrect to call a woman Ms., while "Mrs." and "Miss" can both be incorrect (the former if the woman is single, the latter if she is married, and both if she objects to being addressed by her marital status in professional situations).
     
  17. César Lasso Senior Member

    Madrid (España)
    castellano, España
    Well, she is divorced, young and talented.

    She is now living between Madrid and Geneva (Switzerland), where her children live. I don't think she has lived for a long time in Spain. Her appointment as honorary ambassador was recent.

    They gave me the e-mail of an Uzbek from "THE" embassy (which embassy?) who would resend my e-mail to her.

    I'm collecting all your ideas. You are helping a lot.
     
  18. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British English
    'Madam' in this context is surely a diplomatic courtesy title whether or not the woman is married.

    Hermione
     
  19. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I agree that Ambassador needs to be there but having both "Dear" and "Madam" seems like a mixture of styles. If I had some sort of acquaintance with the ambassador I would write "Dear Ambassador". If I did not, I would write "Madam/Mr. Ambassador".

    Here's one style guide (which doesn't quite agree with me. :) ) I'm sure there are many:

    http://www.libraryonline.com/default.asp?pID=63
     
  20. ehocity

    ehocity New Member

    I think that appropriate will be to call her "Dear Madam Ambassador". Also I don't reckon for her that will be a crucial point whether Dear Madam (Surname) or Dear Madam Ambassador. I am sure she is very cosmopolite, hence no big difference in the manner of addressing towards her. While further, I guess you can call her Dear Madame (Surname).

    In Uzbekistan, for official letters, it is usually written Dear (Name and Middle Name) or Dear Madame (Surname) in both languages - Russian and Uzbek.

    Wishing you good luck!
     
  21. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Jerusalem
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    When I have to write letters to people like that, I use Dear Madam or Dear Sir in routine business correspondence, but Madam Ambassador, Mister Amabassador (without "dear") where more formality is called for.
     
  22. César Lasso Senior Member

    Madrid (España)
    castellano, España
    You really helped a lot.

    I am grateful to all of you.
     

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