LITHUANIAN WOMEN’S NAMES.

Asya Pereltsvaig of Languages Of The World has a post called “Au revoir, mademoiselle!” that starts with the French government’s announcement that the word “mademoiselle” would no longer be used in official documents but quickly goes in a startling direction:

Surnames in Lithuanian end differently depending on whether it’s a man’s surname, a married woman’s or an unmarried woman’s. Men’s surnames typically end in -us, -as, or -ys, as in Paulauskas, Adamkus, Bimbirys. Their sons would inherit the father’s surname, unchanged. However, neither their wives nor their daughters would bear exactly the same name. Thus, the wife of Paulauskas would be named Paulauskiene, but their daughter would be Paulauskaite. Until she marries, of course, at which point she is more likely than not to take her husband’s surname, once again adjusted to reflect her marital status. Let’s say our daughter of Mr. Paulauskas and Mrs. Paulauskiene marries a man whose surname is Adamkus. Her surname will be changed from Paulauskaite to Adamkiene, and their daughter’s surname would be Adamkute (because, just to make things a bit more complicated, the endings used for surnames of unmarried women are somewhat different, depending on surname).

If I ever knew that, I’d forgotten it. Asya goes on to discuss women having to change their first names on marriage in Macedonia and Hungary (is this true?); a thought-provoking post indeed.

Comments

  1. Re Hungarian married names: it’s not the whole truth. Yes, a married woman was referred to by her husband’s name plus the suffix -né, so for example my nagymama (paternal grandmother) would be Cséplö Imrené. But – and here’s the important thing – this was only used in certain very formal situations. I only recall her being referred to in this manner in church contexts, although that may have to do with the fact that this was the only facet of my grandparents’ life conducted solely in Hungarian. And even then her given name was usually appended to this official appelation to give the full form Cséplö Imrené Zsuzsana. The comparison with “Mrs. John Smith” is quite apt since, as far as I can tell, the pragmatic aspects are very similar.

  2. Thanks, that’s a lot clearer.

  3. While that might not be true in Hungary, it is very much still true in certain parts of India! I have an aunt who changed her first name from Damayanti to Jayanthi when she got married — this was picked by consensus of her husband’s family, I do believe.

  4. marie-lucie says:

    Yes, Mademoiselle has apparently been banished from official documents, but I suppose it will still be used in ordinary contexts for very young girls. It would seem ridiculous to address a letter to a ten-year-old girl with the title Madame (potentially causing ambiguity whether the letter is for her or her mother).
    In France, a woman’s official name is her birth name, although a married woman is usually called by Madame plus her husband’s name in ordinary life. As a child I used to be puzzled to see legal notices in newspapers with, for instance, François Martin et Thérèse Dupont, son épouse, while the wife was known to everyone as Madame Martin. A married woman’s passport would say Thérèse Dupont, épouse Martin. Unofficially, the last name a married woman was born with was called her nom de jeune fille. A divorced woman did not have to ask the court to change her name: she had never lost her birth name, and resumed it for use on all occasions, with Madame rather than Mademoiselle which to me conveys the impression that the woman is not fully adult. I was surprised when I saw American women in some professions listing their names as “Miss X” even if they were married, but of course “Mrs X” implies that X is the husband’s name. Not necessarily so for Madame X, which does not always imply marriage: nuns while travelling list themselves as Madame X with their own last name.
    With the new regulations, a name in common use other than the birth name will be called nom d’usage, although this phrase seems to be confusing to many people. I think it would be useful not only for married women, but also for people known under pseudonyms, like some writers or actors.

  5. D Sky Onosson says:

    marie-lucie, you said “but of course ‘Mrs X’ implies that X is the husband’s name”.
    I find that to be less and less true for people my age (I’m 40) and younger these days. I know many people who when married don’t change their names, but they would still typically be referred to with Mr. or Mrs. before their (different) surnames. I also know at least one couple where the husband took his wife’s name (I believe they are in their mid-30s), and my own parents altered my father’s surname when they got married; it had also been altered from the original in my grandfather’s time, so it’s unrecognizable as a Ukrainian name, which is where it originates from.

  6. michael farris says:

    You can still often see the man’s first and last name with -né added (and no female name at all) on mailboxes or other listings of a building’s inhabitants in Hungary.
    Poland used to have endings for wife of -owa and daughter of -ówna but they’re no longer in common usage. I’ve hardly ever heard the latter and only rarely the former in (serious) use and then usually as a formal variant by older women who didn’t use it on a daily basis.
    I’ve also heard it used insultingly to imply that a woman has a particular position due to her husband’s influence (for example). A few times I’ve even heard it added to the last names of women who didn’t use their husbands’ names professionally though I’m not sure what implications that has.
    The only gender marking in last names now in Poland are adjectives in -ski/-ska and -cki/-cka. I remember an Asian woman married to a Polish man whose name ended in one of those having trouble with her home country since her Polish papers all used the -ka form but her home country insisted on using the -ki form for her new passport.
    I wonder if complaints about the Polish minority not being able to use Polish names also includes having to make wife/daughter distinctions that are no longer in common use.
    Theoretically Polish has a title for unmarried women, panna, but I’ve never heard it used as such with a last name. I have heard it used with first names to address young girls (where it can have teasing undertones). I’ve also heard it as a plain noun as an alternate to dziewczyna (girl or girlfriend).

  7. Marie-Lucie, the term ‘mademoidame’ has also been suggested by a French blogger, to correspond to the English Ms.
    The big difference is that in France ‘madame’ is a common way of addressing, while in English ‘mrs’ or even madame aren’t.
    Re Lithuania, I was under the impression that some professional Lithuanian women keep their -aite names as a statement of personal independence?

  8. A common name for a married couple based on the first name of a husband is still used in Poland. Just like in these examples: “Chodźmy do Janów” – “Let’s go to the Johns” (from the male name “Jan”); “Wczoraj spotkaliśmy Piotrów” – “Yeserday we met the Peters” (from the male name “Piotr”).

  9. A married woman’s passport would say Thérèse Dupont, épouse Martin.
    Oddly, a British passport used to have “Joan Jett, née Smith”. In that context, for things like passports and obituaries née was an accepted word in Britain for a long time. When I was young I thought it was pronounced like “knee”. I don’t think it’s common anymore, though. I wonder why born wasn’t used.

  10. (Michael Farris) so, pani is for married women?

  11. michael farris says:

    @Sashura, apparently at one time, but it’s now universal for women.
    IME similar processes have already happened in most (or all?) kinds of Spanish and German where IINM señorita and Fräulein have almost entirely been replaced by señora and Frau.
    It’s interesting (maybe) that for US English at least, you could make a case that Miss is the form with broader application. If Ms. didn’t exist I think using Miss with a married woman sounds better to me than a non-married woman with Mrs. At an office I once worked in one colleague’s husband would ask for “Miss David” when calling his wife. I think there’s also a tradition of using Miss with perfomers even if everyone knows they’re married.

  12. The interesting thing is that a few centuries ago “Mrs.” (read “Mistress”) was the universal form; Pepys is always mentioning “Mrs. So-and-so” and half the time it’s an unmarried woman.

  13. @michael farris: in Lithuania women usually keep their -aite name after marriage in case they are established in their professional or artist career, kind of “trademark”.
    So actually the last name of a woman is only a hint suggesting her fily status, not established fact. And in fact noone would dare call Grybauskaite a Mis (panelė in Lithuanian) just because of her age.
    Very recent development in this area is that women can choose “neutral” suffix -ė (e.g. Grybauskė).
    Regarding Lithuanian male names: while in official documents sons inherid their parents’ names unchanged, there’s tradition in smaller vilages to call unmarried sons in his father last name diminutive form changing suffix to -(i)ukas (Paulauskiukas).

  14. fily=family..

  15. Re: Lithuanian women surnames
    This tradition of constructing the female surnames in this way is slowly changing, especially in the cities, since some women do not like to have a -ienė ending in their surnames which signifies that they are married. In the usual way, if a married woman gets a divorce, she can either keep her -ienė surname, or switch back to nee surname which ends in -ytė/-utė/-aitė — both of these options can be seen as undesirable, since they convey marital status information which is can be seen as false. Currently it is allowed to use a surname ending just in -ė (compare Kudarienė, which is my wife’s surname, to Kudarė), which lose the marital status information.

  16. Are you sure he wasn’t asking for “Ms David”? They sound pretty much the same.
    The rules about what’s currently acceptable aren’t the same in Britain and the US. The Guardian is conducting a campaign to get rid of actress, on the grounds that actors & actresses do the same job.

  17. michael farris says:

    “Are you sure he wasn’t asking for “Ms David”?”
    I’m pretty sure given his general cultural and linguistic background (rural north florida) that he wasn’t using Ms. And from what I remember it wasn’t Miz (an occasional southern version of Miss) either but ‘miss’ (with voiceless ss).

  18. michael farris says:

    “The Guardian is conducting a campaign to get rid of actress, on the grounds that actors & actresses do the same job”
    The same argument has been made in the US (I think I first heard it in the late 70’s/early 80’s in an interview with Katherine Hepburn.
    I think the main reason that ‘actress’ hangs on is that “Best Actress” sounds better than “Best Female Actor” or “Best Female Performance” during the Oscar season.

  19. You could also argue that if they’re doing the same job it’s sexist to give separate prizes to men actors and women actors. Only having “Best actor” ain’t gonna happen, though.

  20. I suppose that there must be instances of boys receiving their maternal grandfather’s (or even further back) surname by changing the mother’s -ė back to -as (etc.)

  21. So Fräulein has been dead for half a century, but feminine suffixes like Studentin or Professorin are not going anywhere in Germany? I assume that just calling things differently based on sex isn’t striking as sexist there, but implying dependency from a male is.

  22. In re Lithuanian gynonymics: More evidence that Lithuanian is conlang invented by Neogrammarians and taught to Baltic peasants just to screw with people?

  23. Marie-Lucie:
    potentially causing ambiguity whether the letter is for her or her mother
    This ambiguity is avoided in the anglophone lands by having a strong convention of not naming girls for their mothers. This is perhaps driven by the desire to avoid having to call a Susan whose daughter is also a Susan either big Susan or old Susan, neither adjective being seen as complimentary to women. By contrast, these strategies are normal for men who name their sons after themselves, in America even with dynastic numbers: there is an American novelist and journalist named “Lucian K[ing] Truscott IV”.
    “Mrs X” implies that X is the husband’s name
    This certainly used to be true, but I agree that in the U.S. at least it has broken down. It was something of the sort that induced the linguistically conservative New York Times to adopt the use of Ms. in 1984: when Geraldine Ferraro was running for Vice-President, the Times persisted in calling her Mrs. Zaccaro to the general confusion of its readers, until the editors finally broke down and shifted to Ms. Ferraro.
    But now a woman’s title is as much a matter of free choice as her name — more so, since it is not part of her legal name. When my wife and I were married in that year, it was thought worthy of remark that she was adopting my surname. She chose to do so because she had retained her first husband’s surname not out of affection for him, but because she could not at the time pay the additional court fee to resume her maiden name. (She also didn’t like her maiden name, Waas, very much; it lends itself to stupid jokes (“Gale was what?”) and has to be spelled every time.)
    But as she said at the time, it seemed silly to still be called after her first husband while married to her second. I was irrationally pleased by this, though it would be inconsistent with my self-esteem to even ask a woman marrying me to change her name. So she is legally and socially Gale Cowan, or among those who don’t know her, Ms. Cowan (never Mrs. Cowan, which was my mother’s title). Our 24-year-old daughter is also Ms. Cowan.
    Crown:
    I wonder why born wasn’t used
    Because it was not French, the international language at the time, and would or might be mistaken by non-anglophone officials as part of the name. Passports are basically addressed to foreigners.
    Mr. or Ms. Driver:
    The case can also be made, and has been made, that actors and actresses don’t do the same job, the divine Sarah and Dustin Hoffman aside (the latter could probably play Nelson Mandela or for that matter Twiggy if he had a mind to it). Indeed acting, along with modeling, is a job where discrimination on the basis of sex is lawful in the U.S., because it is considered a “bona fide occupational qualification”.
    Similar exceptions to the anti-discrimination laws are the mandatory retirement ages for bus drivers and airline pilots (which otherwise would be age discrimination), and for faculty and administration, but not ordinary workers, at Catholic schools and universities to be required to be Catholics (which otherwise would be religious discrimination). BFOQ exceptions must be essential to the business: a sex club can insist that its employees who interact with the public be women, but an airline cannot do so merely because its customers prefer flight attendants to be women. Canada has a similar exception under the name of “bona fide occupational requirement” (BFOR).
    Michael Farris:
    Clearly the pronunciation of Ms. owes something to that Miz, which like the 18th-century Mrs. could be applied to either married or unmarried women. I was surprised to find that Brits don’t seem to perceive the etymology, and pronounce Ms. (when they must) with the default STRUT vowel rather than the KIT vowel of Miss and Mrs.. British authors (or their publishers) also seem to make a balls of the (old-fashioned) American use of mister as a term of address, and represent their American characters as saying “Hey, Mr.”!
    Mockba:
    There is now a conventional mixed-sex plural style, StudentInnen, meaning ‘Studenten und Studentinnen’. I don’t know how widespread this is.

  24. J.W. Brewer says:

    I don’t know if this accounts for the German situation (if MOCKBA is accurate), but since the -lein suffix is diminutive as opposed to female (although diminutive of a word that is itself inherently female in reference) that could give it a different and more problematic vibe than the -in suffix. Despite the ubiquity of “Ms.” in business correspondence, AmEng seems to retain fairly vigorously the Miss/Ma’am contrasting pair for direct address to strangers/customers (e.g. in contexts where you would say “Excuse me, sir” to a male whose name you didn’t know).
    President Carter’s mother was commonly known as Miz Lillian. I’m not sure what special Southern rules for Mrs./Miss usage were implied by that, although at least in my dialect of AmEng “Miss” (assuming “Miz” was for the Dowager Mrs. Carter nothing other than an eye-dialect spelling of “Miss”) is more flexible, because both “Miss FIRSTNAME” and “Miss SURNAME” are fine in different contexts whereas “Mrs. FIRSTNAME” is (like “Mr. FIRSTNAME”) odd and something one would expect to hear primarily from non-native speakers.
    Since it is not customary in current movie/tv/stage-play casting practice (with obviously a few exceptions, not to mention “bit parts” where the writer has no preconception about which sex will occupy the role) for males to portray females or vice versa, the acting profession does seem like a particularly plausible one to retain gender-specific titles, since they really are (in terms of the appropriate opportunities) different job descriptions, sort of the way in which being an oboeist and a trombonist are similar yet distinct jobs.

  25. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    I was partially aware of Lithuanian conventions because around the end of the 1990s I wanted to invite a Lithuanian person to a meeting I was organizing, and although I was reasonably sure she was a woman (I had an idea that someone who had met her had told me so, and she has a first name that looked to my eyes more female than male — but who can tell with a Lithuanian name?) I thought I should be certain, and so I asked her directly: she replied that as her name ended in -iene that indicated that she was a married woman.

  26. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    “I wonder why born wasn’t used”
    Because it was not French, the international language at the time, and would or might be mistaken by non-anglophone officials as part of the name. Passports are basically addressed to foreigners.
    Non-anglophone officials can also make mistakes the other way. Many years ago I travelled in Spain and Portugal with two student friends. In each place we stayed the person at the desk laboriously copied out two of our names more or less correctly, but for the third one the surname was always omitted. The first time we attached no special significance to it, but after the fourth or fifth time we realized that the surname in question was sufficiently similar to an everyday Spanish and Portuguese word to be read as a description and not as part of the name. (Sorry to be a bit oblique, but I try not to refer to third parties in ways that would allow them to be identified.)

  27. mollymooly says:

    Wikipedia is informative about Princess Michael of Kent‘s wacky appellation.
    Rue Mademoiselle in Paris is not full of singles bars. Rue Madame is older and maintained in better style.

  28. @ JB: So the fraulein problem may have been specifically with the diminutive suffix? OK, that sounds like a reasonable explanation. I was thinking about a situation in Czech where a wife’s or daughter’s surname is always “his name + suffix -ova” (e.g. Miller ->> Millerova) i.e. “fem. belonging to Miller”). It’s as if the grammar itself made no doubt “who is the boss”.
    @ michael farris,
    I found it fascinating that in Polish too, there is historic usage of separate name forms for unmarried daughters vs. married women, as in Lithuanian. The two nations share a long period of joint statehood and cultural inter-influence. I wonder if the distinct names of Ms/Mrs women emerged in Polish under Lithuanian influence, or vice versa?

  29. @michael farris – yes, thanks for your observations. I’ve never heard of -owa and -owna endings in Polish, -owna being the Russian feminine patronimic form.

  30. Belarusian used to have a similar variety: StankiEvič (married male) — StankiEvičycha or StankiEvičava (married female) — StankievičAnka (unmarried female) — StankiEŭčyk (unmarried male).

  31. I wonder why born wasn’t used
    Because it was not French, the international language

    No, I get it when it concerns passports, but née is, or was, always used, for example, in British newspapers.
    Wikipedia is informative about Princess Michael of Kent’s wacky appellation.
    Come the revolution and she’ll be “Mrs Michaels, from Kent”.
    The case can also be made, and has been made, that actors and actresses don’t do the same job
    I completely agree with you here. I think the Guardian‘s reasoning is absurd. Besides, I hate it when newspapers conduct campaigns like this, cf the San Francisco papers and “cigaret”.

  32. marie-lucie says:

    Rue Mademoiselle in Paris is not full of singles bars. Rue Madame is older and maintained in better style.
    The names of these streets refer to specific women of the royal family in the 17th and 18th centuries, so high-ranking that there was no need to specify their names. Madame was Louis XIV’s sister-in-law, the English princess Henrietta Anne Stuart, known in France as Henriette d’Angleterre. She became Madame by marrying Louis XIV’s younger brother, referred to simply as Monsieur. Their oldest child was la Grande Mademoiselle, Louis XIV’s first cousin (More details on Wikipedia).

  33. marie-lucie says:

    Later, other royal princesses were also called Madame, usually with their first names, except for the highest-ranking ones.

  34. Yeesh, what a piece of work Princess Michael is. She reminds me of Nately’s mother from Catch-22:

    Nately was a sensitive, rich, good-looking boy with dark hair, trusting eyes, and a pain in his neck when he awoke on the sofa early the next morning and wondered dully where he was. His nature was invariably gentle and polite. He had lived for almost twenty years without trauma, tension, hate, or neurosis, which was proof to Yossarian of just how crazy he really was. His childhood had been a pleasant, though disciplined, one. He got on well with his brothers and sisters, and he did not hate his mother and father, even though they had both been very good to him.

    Nately had been brought up to detest people like Aarfy, whom his mother characterized as climbers, and people like Milo, whom his father characterized as pushers, but he had never learned how since he had never been permitted near them. As far as he could recall, his homes in Philadelphia, New York, Maine, Palm Beach, Southampton, London, Deauville, Paris and the South of France had always been crowded only with ladies and gentlemen who were not climbers and pushers. Nately’s mother, a descendant of the New England Torntons, was a Daughter of the American Revolution. His father was a Son of a Bitch.

    “Always remember,” his mother had reminded him frequently, “that you are a Nately. You are not a Vanderbilt, whose fortune was made by a vulgar tugboat captain, or a Rockefeller, whose wealth was amassed through unscrupulous speculations in crude petroleum; or a Reynolds or Duke, whose income was derived from the sale to the unsuspecting public of products containing cancer-causing resins and tars; and you are certainly not an Astor, whose family, I believe, still lets rooms. You are a Nately, and the Natelys have never done anything for their money.”

    As for her name: After her marriage, Harriet is officially Lady Peter Wimsey, and in fact Peter figures out that Miss Agnes Twitterton had antecedents slightly above her station as spinster, chicken-keeper, and daughter of a cowman, because she knows to call Harriet “Lady Peter” right off — in fact, her mother was a village schoolmistress. (What tiresome subtleties these would be in real life, and yet how much fun it is to read of them!)

  35. “You are a Nately, and the Natelys have never done anything for their money.”
    I love that book. John, do you know what name she would use after Lord Peter dies? I think it’s probably “Lady Wimsey”. When Mrs Peter Wimsey’s husband dies she becomes known as Mrs Harriet Wimsey, but “Lady Harriet Wimsey” would imply that her title was inherited.

  36. J.W.B. In the South, “Mr/Mrs. Firstname” is not odd at all: it is inferior-to-superior address, where “Mr./Mrs. Lastname” would be the address of equals who are not intimate.

  37. If I tell you what Harriet’s title will be after Peter’s death, I will spoilerate The Attenbury Emeralds, so I will rot13 it as “gur Qbjntre Qhpurff bs Qraire”. But to answer your question as you meant it: I have no idea, but your conjecture sounds reasonable to me.
    I like to think that Bredon is still sitting in the House, one of the indispensable hereditary peers: he’s only 76, after all, not so old for a lord. Then again, he may have disclaimed his title.

  38. Only very marginally related, but I can’t help but notice that Jon Stewart greets male guests with a resounding “Sir!”, but nothing equivalent for women.
    Is “Maam!” considered offensive outwith military?

  39. J.W. Brewer says:

    Well, I don’t live in the South . . . I tend to be addressed as “Mr. FIRSTNAME” in the N.Y. area primarily by people whose first language is likely Spanish. I’m assuming this is a calque of Don FIRSTNAME or Senor FIRSTNAME which I infer would be the right idiom in Spanish, at least in a deferential kind of setting where, e.g. I am their customer. But that does raise the question, then, of why Pres. Carter’s mom wasn’t called “Mrs. Lillian.”

  40. Since it is not customary in current movie/tv/stage-play casting practice (with obviously a few exceptions, not to mention “bit parts” where the writer has no preconception about which sex will occupy the role) for males to portray females or vice versa, the acting profession does seem like a particularly plausible one to retain gender-specific titles, since they really are (in terms of the appropriate opportunities) different job descriptions, sort of the way in which being an oboeist and a trombonist are similar yet distinct jobs.

    It seems to me that what you say is true of sex would be only slightly less true of race, and that we manage to get along without separate terms, or separate awards, distinguishing actors on the basis of skin colour.
    When one considers not just sex and race but such factors as age and attractiveness, all of which are going to affect what roles someone auditions for, it becomes possible to break acting down into any number of “similar yet distinct jobs”. I don’t think there is a compelling argument that basic vocabulary needs to reflect this.
    ***
    Re Mr./Mrs./etc. FIRSTNAME: Just as a point of comparison, I believe this is the ordinary pattern in Georgian, at least in direct address of ordinary formality. My textbook has examples like ბატონო დავით bat’ono davit “Mr David” and ქალბატონო თამარ kalbat’ono tamar “Ms Tamar”. (These are in the vocative – Google shows that nominatives like bat’oni daviti exist too, but I can’t say anything about their distribution & connotations.)

  41. JWB: She was. It’s just that Mrs. was pronounced “Miz” at that time and place.
    Sili: It’s touchy. “Ma’am” can mean deference, but it can include the deference of youth to age, and imply that his guests are old. “Miss”, on the other hand, is polite address to the situational-servant: I’d say it to attract a female sales clerk’s attention, unless she were older than me.

  42. I had a friend of my daughter’s address me as sir because he was working in the store where I was shopping. I gave him my standard response (“Don’t call me ‘sir’, I work for a living”), but he pointed out that by store policy he has to.
    Tim May: In the TV show Merlin, Guinevere is played by a black British actress, but I think you are not supposed to notice this: there is no suggestion that she is a Moor, unlike, say, Jaq on Robin Hood. There was a truly spectacular case of supposedly case-blind casting in the travesty that the SyFy channel made of Le Guin’s Earthsea books: in a world in which the Good Guys are American Indian brown (except a few who are African black) and the would-be imperialist Bad Guys are white (they do turn out to have their points, later on), the casting made everyone white except the Yoda figure, who is a classic Magic Negro.

  43. Онлайн Работа says:

    “Asya goes on to discuss women having to change their first names on marriage in Macedonia and Hungary (is this true?)”
    Although we are neighbors with the Macedonians and we have a lot in common (I’m Bulgarian), I didn’t know their womеn have to change their first names after marriage. I wonder what names do they use.

  44. wow, that was some involved spam. To quote on topic for a get-rich-quick link? Thanks for the effort buddy, you got my click 🙂

  45. the question . . . of why Pres. Carter’s mom wasn’t called “Mrs. Lillian.”
    JWB: She was. It’s just that Mrs. was pronounced “Miz” at that time and place.
    Yes, I think many people who haven’t lived in the South don’t realize that “Miz” is (or at least used to be) the usual pronunciation of “Mrs.” there. How was it differentiated from “Miss” then? I grew up mostly in the South, and as far as I recall it could always be differentiated by using unvoiced “s” instead of voiced “z”. But often it wasn’t very clearly differentiated, which could be handy when you weren’t sure if you were addressing a married or a single woman. The same ambiguity was later used, for the same reason, by those who came up with “Ms.”
    This is my recollection. I would be curious to hear if others perceived it differently.

  46. Petrus Augustinus says:

    “Asya goes on to discuss women having to change their first names on marriage in Macedonia and Hungary (is this true?)”
    First name, no. If a woman marries a man in Hungary, according to the applicabble Code of Civil Law can do five things with her name. So if (I’m NOT using the Western but rather, the Hungarian name order) NAGY Anna marries KOVÁCS Péter than she has these five options:
    Nagy Anna
    Kovács Péterné
    Kovács Anna
    Kovácsné Nagy Anna
    Kovács Péterné Nagy Anna
    She always keeps the first name.

  47. Looks like Anna does not appear in your second alternative.

  48. A hit, a palpable hit!

  49. Petrus Augustinus says:

    Looks like Anna does not appear in your second alternative.
    Ahh, okay, so that was what you meant! Well, her first name definitely disappeared from her official records and ID card in that second case, but everyone will still call her Anna. 🙂
    I’d never have viewed this as a loss of a first name but I guess you’re right; legally she can lose her first name! Casually it’ll stay. Thanks for noticing that.

  50. vrai.cabecou says:

    John Cowan: The Times didn’t call her Mrs. Zaccaro during the campaign, but Mrs. Ferraro, as per her request (though yes, she would have preferred Ms. Ferraro, and yes, The Times gave up the fight in 1986). Nowadays, of course, it’s questionmarkuestlove and Deadmau5 and plays and movies with unprintable titles that cause all the problems.

  51. Vrai Cabecou: You’re right: I had conflated what the Times actually did with what Bill Safire said at the time.

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