Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Why and Wherefore of Titles

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Why and Wherefore of Titles

Article excerpt

Dear Miss Manners: My question is about an honorary title.

John Doe is appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense by the President of the United States, is confirmed by the United States Senate and is then addressed as: The Honorable John Doe, Assistant Secretary of Defense.

When John Doe finishes his job and becomes former Assistant Secretary of Defense does he retain "The Honorable" title of address, i.e.: "The Honorable John Doe, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense"? Gentle Reader: He keeps half, and the government takes the other half back, a division not unprecedented in the relations of government and citizenry. "The Honorable" (written on a line by itself, followed by the person's name with no other honorific) is his for life. But since he can never, never, never use it about himself, and people outside of government don't keep track of such things unless they want to make tasteless jokes, it doesn't do him much good. No other emeritus title exists, but the designation will more or less follow him as a description. However, Miss Manners is afraid that the most usual rendition is, "Didn't he use to be something in . . . which administration was it?" Dear Miss Manners: Because my dog is quite protective and does not take kindly to being approached by his fellow canines, I attempt to clear the path when I meet my neighbors and their beloved pets, so that they can continue on a safe journey. If this is not possible, I place my pet in a controlled position and warn them that their dog may not become quick friends with mine. However, these warnings go unheeded as the neighbor will claim, "My dog is Mr. Friendly." I hope you can provide me with a proper phrase or approach to keep me on a friendly basis with my neighbors, yet instill upon them the severity of their not heeding my warnings. Time is short and distances not conducive to quiet conversation or knowing looks. …

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