Monday, April 13, 2009


A question for the gathered throng: When do titles expire, or become ex-? I ask this because, in watching This Week on ABC yesterday, George Stephanopoulos and his guests did something I've heard before, and that is to refer to guest Newt Gingrich as "Speaker."

Last I checked, Gingrich wasn't speaker of anything except his own particular (and rather strange) view of the world. He was Speaker of the House, but that ended over 10 years ago. While it might be ungainly to refer to him constantly as "ex-Speaker," that argues for dropping the whole thing, not for dropping just the "ex."

Is there some standard published somewhere that tells us which titles expire and which don't? I know that Miss America becomes a former Miss America the minute the crown is placed on another woman's head, and Presidents of the United States seem to remain "Mr. President," but, for all the titles in between, I just don't know.

1 comment:

John said...

There's no doing anything about this so long as some people feel self-important and others prop up self-importance. The political contributor, rewarded with an ambassadorship, who likes or even insists on being referred to as "Ambassador" ever afterward is an example of the type.

But people, even in our supposedly democratic country, love to throw titles around. Any former holder of an office can count on being addressed as "Governor" or "Senator" to the edge of the grave. Military officers hold the highest rank they attain in perpetuity. You don't have to listen to the way people talk on television shows, where they might simply be sucking up; you can hear it in the way ordinary people talk in ordinary situations, dazzled by the glamor of titles.

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