What is the difference between Mme, Ms. and M. ?

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HyeeWang

Senior Member
Chinese
The teachers of my child in public school use different titles before names, such as Mr. Mvovi, Ms. Castellucci, M. Bertrand, Mme Fuamba. I am confused what is the meaning of M.? Male or female? What is the difference between Mme and Ms.? Thanks.
 
  • Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    Since your two questions appear to be about French titles, I suggest you post in the French-English forum.

    M. Bertrand is probably Monsieur, for example, but I'm not allowed to discuss that here! Is M. Bertrand French or the French teacher? Same question for Mme Fuamba.
     
    Last edited:

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I see you are in Toronto. Surely you must have learned by now that Canada is officially bilingual, with both French and English used for official purposes. Here you have some people using English titles and some using French titles. M. is Monsieur; it is a French term of address for men. Mister (abbreviated Mr.) is an English term of address for men. Ms. is an English term of address used for women, and Madame (abbreviated Mme.) is a French term of address used for women.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    M. is Monsieur (French for Mister) and Mme. is Madame (French for, well, Madam, of which there isn't an abbreviated form in English). Both of these titles are used in English-speaking contexts if the person holding the title prefers to be addressed in a foreign honorific. For instance, high-ranking Catholic clergy would be addressed as Monsignor (Mgr., Msgr., or Mons.) as a matter of politeness and deference.

    You might also see Mlle. (Mademoiselle, or "Miss"). Perhaps your child's Spanish teachers are Sr. or Sra. I hope the moderators will agree that there isn't anything particularly foreign about these words, since they're used often enough in all-English settings.

    Ms. is a strictly English, and perhaps even American, mode of address that was popularized rather recently (famously by the feminist Gloria Steinem). Since Mr. and Mrs. both use the man's name, Ms. is a polite and non-sexist way of referring to a woman without emphasizing her married status. It can refer to both married and unmarried women, as well as women who have and have not taken their husband's name. It is pronounced "mizz" (so note that it isn't pronounced "Miss").

    Another important fact that you might find useful is that there's nothing wrong with asking someone what the proper way to address them is. I couldn't imagine, for instance, Mme. Fuamba being offended that you were unfamiliar with what "Mme." means or connotes. She would probably be glad to explain and pleased that you would go to the trouble to address her in the manner that she prefers.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    But if you honestly didn't know, and you were polite about it, it doesn't seem like a reasonable person would become offended - just as if you asked how to pronounce a foreign name with which you were unfamiliar (M Lefebvre with a b-sound or without, for instance; or Mlle Dumas as Doo-moss or Doo-mah). Of course, if you asked "What the hell is this em-em-ee crap!? You foreigners!" then I would probably be just as offended as poor Mme. Fuamba would be.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Ms. is a strictly English, and perhaps even American
    Oh we have plenty of mizzes here too, Lucas:)
    Of course, if you asked "What the hell is this em-em-ee crap!? You foreigners!" then I would probably be just as offended as poor Mme. Fuamba would be.
    :D I agree with your general point: people are generally flattered when someone shows an interest in their name. In return, Hyee, you could explain how Chinese names work. (Should I be addressing you as Hyee or as Wang, for instance? [rhetorical question ... kind of].)
     

    HyeeWang

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you all. I got it. I name myself Hyee Wang as English name, with Wang being surname.,but Hyee Wang is not my legal name. I try to make myself adapt to local Toronto culture. You can call me Hyee as usual, although Hyee is not a regular English name.
     
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