Agreed. Not for letters. I was imagining speech:I'm confused now. Are we talking about addressing a letter, or talking to women we don't know? Either way, to me 'dear ladies' sounds even more patronising than dear madams.
(my emphasis)I often use such an expression as dear madam (dear madams -- when there are several women) when I talk to women I don't know ...
That's a personal opinion, of course, and I'm not really sure what the justification is. I certainly wouldn't bristle if I was in an all-male group addressed as "Gentlemen...", and nobody would take offence at being addressed as "Ladies and gentlemen..." would they?Over here, too: I would bristle if I was part of a group addressed as "Ladies"...
Ouf, dasubergeek, I really can't imagine a situation in which "Madams" or "Mesdames" would sound anything other than strange - or comical.If you absolutely can't get around it, use Mesdames or Madams as you said. It just sounds... awkward.
I may have missed it, but I didn't see any objection to using 'Dear' in a letter. The objection was to using 'Dear' in spoken address.I don't quite get the prejudice against using "Dear" in a salutation in a letter. It is highly conventional, after all, and for that matter, it's still in common use because I get both letters and emails addressed that way.
For example, I said 'Good day' some time ago and they haven't seen me for 2 hours. Then we meet again and need them to pay attention to me. If I can't say Ladies and Gentlemen (there aren't any men) as well as I can't just say 'Ladies' or 'Women', what should I say to start a speech?I'm still not sure why you feel you must address them as anything. If I understand correctly, you've already said 'Good morning', so why not just launch into your speech? There's no need for any more addressing to be done.
Whatever you decide, please do not say 'Dear women', or, (worse still) just 'Women'.
As an aside, we spell it 'etc'.
I must have misunderstood. My apologies. "Dear" is indeed not appropriate in spoken address unless the person actually is, well, dear to you.I may have missed it, but I didn't see any objection to using 'Dear' in a letter. The objection was to using 'Dear' in spoken address.
I agree with Velisarius. There's no reason for any sort of gender-specific address here. Just say "Hi" or "Hello/hallo" and go from there.For example, I said 'Good day' some time ago and they haven't seen me for 2 hours. Then we meet again and need them to pay attention to me. If I can't say Ladies and Gentlemen (there aren't any men) as well as I can't just say 'Ladies' or 'Women', what should I say to start a speech?
That is a very good point.You can probably judge how to say it, Dadane, since you're a native speaker, but I certainly can't explain to a non-native speaker the right way...
Well, both actually.Is Keith actually defending the use of "Ladies" or is he just giving an example of its use? I can't tell...
I really, really, really think this term needs to be avoided in a business context, except when you're using it with "gentlemen": "Ladies and gentlemen." Really. It's a social title and its use should generally be confined to purely social contexts (and even there, you have to be careful, as your examples illustrate, Keith). Sure, some people get away with it, but how can a non-native speaker be expected to figure out the right way/time and the wrong way/time? Many a native speaker has messed it up, I can promise you that, and that includes those with the purest of motives.Yes, I might be being coy, Keith. And yes, I haven't used the words sexist or patronising. And yes-yes-yes: it's in the eye of the beholder!
Feel free to use the term "ladies" when addressing a group of women. But recognise also that those women may well resent this.