Information Services Office   4.1.2012

390

 
Newsletter No. 390 > Style Speaks > Forms of Address

Forms of Address

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For secretaries and speech-writers, Debrett’s Correct Form is a valuable resource. It may prove to be a beam of hope and inspiration that descends on a much scratched scalp.

Despite its heavy tilt towards the British way, the book does provide clear references on formal and informal addresses. Its section on ‘Academics’ details how Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors, College Heads and Professors should be addressed formally and socially at the beginning of letters, on envelopes and in speech.

In the section ‘Medicine’, the book reiterates the British insistence on two distinct forms of address for the broad disciplines of medicine (including general practice) and surgery. A physician with a medical degree is addressed ‘Doctor’ in speech, whereas a surgeon (including gynaecologist and dental surgeon) is addressed as ‘Mr/Miss/Mrs’.

Before a formal speech is given, a number of personalities are mentioned in the preamble. Who should be included, and in what order?

The advice of Debrett’s Correct Form is to keep the list short, though ‘subject to avoiding any omission which would cause justifiable offence’, and begin with the host (if the speech is not delivered by the host him/herself), referred to by his office. For example:

Mr. Chairman
Mr. Vice-Chancellor
Mr. Master (that is, if spoken at a College dinner)

Editor
www.iso.cuhk.edu.hk/english/features/style-speaks/index.html

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