Use of marital title abbreviations in dialogue


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Thread: Use of marital title abbreviations in dialogue

  1. #1

    Use of marital title abbreviations in dialogue

    Is it acceptable to use "Mr.", "Mrs.", and "Ms." in dialogue as opposed to spelling them out? "Mister" isn't so much an issue for me since it's commonly used generically in reference to men and I don't think "Miss" even has an abbreviation ("Miss" and "Ms." have different meanings), but using "Missus" and "Miz" has always looked and read awkwardly to me, as if the reader might assume they're a character's first name.

  2. #2
    Creative Area Specialist (Fiction) Blade's Avatar
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    I think it would be. The abbreviations exist to save time and print as well as to avoid the awkward long forms. You may find the long forms difficult simply because you are accustomed to the short ones.
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  3. #3
    Good question and one I've been pondering over for a short story I'm currently writing. What if you were addressing someone as "Mister" as in "Oi, Mister, what yer doing?" My boss in Ireland never called me by my name always 'Missus'. "How you doing this morning, Missus?"
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by PiP View Post
    Good question and one I've been pondering over for a short story I'm currently writing. What if you were addressing someone as "Mister" as in "Oi, Mister, what yer doing?" My boss in Ireland never called me by my name always 'Missus'. "How you doing this morning, Missus?"
    If not using the character's name in the dialogue, then I'd most definitely use the non-abbreviated form. "How you doing this morning, Mrs.?" not only sounds awkward, but just looks atrocious.

  5. #5
    No abbreviations in dialogue. You write what they say.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Oberon View Post
    No abbreviations in dialogue. You write what they say.
    Really? So you're supposed to spell out "Mrs."

    "How are you today, Missus Smith?"

    That just doesn't look right to me.
    disclaimer: I type to ask quuuesstions... if for wutever reeeson i mistake a their with there, or a two with to... or anything of the sort... forums is where i can lazeee tipe and not put effort in... i am not a professional...

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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by John Oberon View Post
    No abbreviations in dialogue. You write what they say.
    Quote Originally Posted by DaBlaRR View Post
    Really? So you're supposed to spell out "Mrs."

    "How are you today, Missus Smith?"

    That just doesn't look right to me.
    There are exceptions to the 'write what they say' guideline. Most notably Mr. and Mrs. When writing fiction we need to be mindful of reader expectations. Readers expect to see Mr. and Mrs., they will automatically translate those abbreviation into 'mister' and 'missus'. In fact, as in your case, the full spelling will cause a mental speed-bump that we don't want. Most other titles -- doctor, general, senator, etc. -- are uncommon enough to get the full spelling treatment. There is no hard and fast 'rule' governing this issue, and opinions do vary, but even the Chicago Manual of Style recommends the shortened forms for these two titles.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by John Oberon View Post
    No abbreviations in dialogue. You write what they say.
    "What is the plan today, Mister President?"

    Sounds like a ten-year-old is saying it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    There are exceptions to the 'write what they say' guideline. Most notably Mr. and Mrs. When writing fiction we need to be mindful of reader expectations. Readers expect to see Mr. and Mrs., they will automatically translate those abbreviation into 'mister' and 'missus'. In fact, as in your case, the full spelling will cause a mental speed-bump that we don't want. Most other titles -- doctor, general, senator, etc. -- are uncommon enough to get the full spelling treatment. There is no hard and fast 'rule' governing this issue, and opinions do vary, but even the Chicago Manual of Style recommends the shortened forms for these two titles.
    Actually this made me rethink it.

    It looks ok if you it's written... "How you doin, me Missus." ........ That I think seems like it's ok...

    But "How you doing Missus Smith." Does not look right.
    disclaimer: I type to ask quuuesstions... if for wutever reeeson i mistake a their with there, or a two with to... or anything of the sort... forums is where i can lazeee tipe and not put effort in... i am not a professional...

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  10. #10
    I would incline towards using the abbreviations in dialogue where the surname is used to - but not where the surname is omitted.
    There are probably exceptions. One that springs to mind is the stereotype of the colonial Englishman on safari being addressed by his foreign accented bag carrier. In such a scenario, I suppose even "... Meester xxx ..." would do, or something similar.

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