H.E Mrs. or H.E. Madam.. ? ...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Camlearner, May 25, 2010.

  1. Camlearner Senior Member

    1. Sometimes I see people use H.E Mrs. ABC, for example, but sometimes I see them use H.E. Madam ABC. Are these two usages the same?

    2. Can I also use H.E Miss ABC if she is single or H.E Ms. if her marital status is unknown?

    3. But why don't we just use Her Excellency right away instead of use H.E Mrs. or H.E Madam .. ?

    4. And if I address many high-ranking people in the government, can I use Their Excellencies ? or Your Excellencies(Excellencies here as plural like this?)

    5. Some even use this phrase to welcome high-ranking people who walking into a seminar room: "Welcome to the Seminar H.E. The Chairs (plural)" because there are many of them coming. How can they use like that : H.E. The Chairs? Is this usage according to standard grammar or not? Or grammar does not work here? And so it is spoken use? But it is used during formal situation with high-ranking people!!?

    6. And if I introduce myself to the seminar and I am one of the high-ranking people, can I use "I am My Excellency ABC.. or Excellency ABC.."

    Thank you any of you who help me with these usages.

    P.S: In my country, people like to use such saluting words a lot although I myself do not really but have to learn because need to speak during English-medium meetings/seminars.
  2. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    There is a whole set of etiquette regarding titles and addressing those who hold them. This is a very broad topic. "Excellency" is not a general term in English as a form of address to honor someone, at least that I'm aware of.

    In American English I can't think of a position that calls for an address of "His Excellency". (I'm sorry... we do call ambassadors "excellencies"). In British English I believe it applies to the lower ranks of nobility such as count, baron, viscount and the like. The rules can be fairly complex (at least, for those of us who didn't grow up with them). I don't think a general rule applies here. There are different forms of address for the queen, princes and others.

    In AE (American English), we refer to judges as "his Honor" and there are certain forms of address for various ranks in the Catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy, but in general we don't use titles or forms of address in a general setting.

    I doubt that someone uses a formal form of address when talking about himself (as in "My Excellency"). You could use a title, such as "I am Chairman X" or "I am President Y" but I don't think I've ever heard anyone refer to himself by the form of address others use to address him.

    That may not have been much help. :(
    Last edited: May 25, 2010
  3. Camlearner Senior Member

    Hi JamesM ,

    Your response does help broaden my understanding of the set of etiquette normally used in international arena other than my country located in Southeast Asia. Thank you.

    You must not have been to Cambodia, must you? (I'm not sure if I use this Question tag form correctly or not "must you?". If I say "You don't like her, the question tag would be "Do you?" Right?)

    All these cases (the whole set of etiquette regarding titles and addressing those who hold them) in my questions do happen in Cambodia and Indonesia from my working experience. People there like to address each other with such forms a lot to honor each other.

    I'm not sure if you've been to Thailand and understand some Thai language.. People there like to speak Khab! Khab! Khab!... or Khas!, Khas!, Khas!... Na Khab! Na Khas!... (meaning in English: Yes!, Yes!, Yes!... all the times) a lot during the course of their daily communication.

    And I feel a bit strange when I speak to my Indian teacher, he seems to always shake his head whenever he speaks.. but no, he does not mean to say no. He naturally shakes his head when speaking.

    Thank you again JamesM for your sharing experience.
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Just on a point of detail: as far as I know, we use His (etc) Excellency in BrE only for Ambassadors, High Commissioners, and Governors-General.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the rest of James' post:)
  5. Camlearner Senior Member

    Hello Loob,

    Thank you for your sharing.

    For your information, in my country this word "Governors-General" has never been used! And we also don't have this kind of governmental position as far as I know..

    Things are really complicated when learning a new language.. but interesting ! :)
  6. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    It might be that only a Cambodian could give you a really reliable answer about how to address people in this way. This might be exclusive to Cambodia, even in English. In other words, this might be more of a question of customs in your country than about how English works. Still, it's very interesting and I'm always glad to hear about how language is used in different countries.
  7. Camlearner Senior Member

    Hi JamesM,

    If those words as you said are exclusive to only a country, then it might mean that people, both English-native and non-native, from other countries may not correctly understand what I speak or write in workshops?

    So if we speak about grammar analysis, it seems that this phrase used formally is not correct for English grammar "Welcome to the Seminar H.E. The Chairs (plural)" ?

    Thank you for your help :)
  8. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    In English, if you are talking about the chairs of an organization or a meeting, we do not use an honorific. We would say "Mister Chairman, Madam Chairwoman" (or Mister/Madam Chair). I know this sort of thing is very hard to adapt to, but it is not considered a lack of politeness in English.
  9. Camlearner Senior Member

    Hi Nunty,

    Thank you for your help.

    In Loob's post, if there are more than 2 Ambassadors, High Commissioners or Governors-General in my country, can I speak "Their Excellencies (plural? Excellencies here?)" If I can't, how should I use honorific to introduce such high-ranking people politely in an international-level seminar?
  10. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Yes, if you are introducing people who are habitually addressed as Excellency, you can introduce them as His Excellency (one person) or Their Excellencies (several).
  11. Camlearner Senior Member

    Hi Nunty,

    Thank you for that.

    So if we speak about grammar analysis, it seems that this phrase used formally is not correct for English grammar "Welcome to the Seminar H.E. The Chairs (plural)" ? and maybe not very acceptable in international standard of English language? because I don't know where the "...The... " come from and why used it here? But I heard people speak it !
  12. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    This is not a question of grammar, strictly speaking, but of idiomatic speech. We reserve "Excellency" to a very few cases.
  13. Camlearner Senior Member

    Ahh I see!

    So it looks like that some people in my country produce a new English word by themselves !? strange!.. but not standard acceptable!

    Thank you!
  14. boozer Senior Member

    Just another small point of detail: as far as my observations go, all dignitaries above a certain rank in a country's government are called "excellencies" (never mind the fact that they are often very far from being "excellent" :) ). Cabinet ministers (not sure about their deputies), parliament speakers/chairpersons, the respective heads of the judiciary, etc., as well as all other ranks equated with those, are to be called "excellencies" etiquette-wise. This level of officialdom, however, is often reduced and, instead of "Your Excellency", "capital" people call each other just "Excellency", e.g. "Excellency, I don't suppose you would mind my using your loo?" :D

    Of course, I do not expect two ministers of the same government to address each other like that (maybe this is why you tend to only associate it with ambassadors and high commissioners), but this certainly happens both ways between any foreign ambassador and the local dignitary.
  15. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Again, this depends on the local practice. It is certainly not the practice in American English.
  16. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    I can't give a complete answer, but I can clarify some points. When talking formally about someone, you use the honorific and the title: Her Majesty The Queen, or Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. When addressing them, you use just the honorific: Your Majesty; Your Royal Highness. When there are two of them at equal rank you use the plural forms: Their Royal Highnesses the Earl and Countess of Wessex would be addressed as Your Royal Highnesses.

    I am more familiar with royal styles than ambassadorial ones, but I believe this would generally apply to other titles. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI would be addressed as Your Holiness.

    In Britain, the honorific is used only once. Having addressed the Queen as Your Majesty, in the rest of your brief conversation with her you call her Ma'am. The Duke is addressed as Sir after the first time.
  17. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I echo Nunty's comment, boozer: that's not the practice in British English either;)
  18. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I'm not sure I can help in the niceties of polite address in your cultural situation, but I am curious whether you say this as
    "Welcome to the Seminar H.E. aitch ee The Chairs (plural)" ?
    i.e., do you say the letters H and E as letters?
    Perhaps you might say, for example "We welcome His Excellency , The Chair of the Defence Committee" or would you say aitch ee?

    For the plural, it would make sense to say T. E. (for Their Excellencies) bit would it be understood??
  19. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    In any event, the use of initials for such honorifics is totally mystifying in AE, except perhaps for the diplomatic corps.

    Speaking as one who has served in the military and never been entrusted with anything diplomatic, my first response to "H.E." is "high explosive." (Really. I'm not just making a joke.)
  20. boozer Senior Member

    I hope nobody is under the wrong impression that this is the practice in my country. :) Internally, we give the name and designation - just the way, I'm sure, it is done in most other countries. We do not "excellency" our president. This is often done on the international arena, however. I know for a fact, that the US President will address the UN Secretary General with the honorific "Your Excellency". I would certainly expect the same from the British PM.

    In fact, I would gladly accept that this is a protocol thing rather than a language one. And that protocol varies from country to country. It would be a language thing if the word "excellency" simply did not exist in either BE or AE and, say, "beatitude" was used instead. But that is certainly not the case.

    In fact, I think this wiki article describes the situation quite objectively: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excellency

    Cheers everyone.

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