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Ways of addressing people

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  • Melvyn Clarke
    Hi everybody, One of our readers recently pulled me up over the way I addressed him in an invitation. As a penance I am reposting his mail to the list (with
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 3, 2000
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      Hi everybody,

      One of our readers recently pulled me up over the way I addressed him in an
      invitation. As a penance I am reposting his mail to the list (with his
      permission). Some other Angloids here may find it useful:

      Dear Mr. Clarke,

      thanks for inviting me to join the discussion group. It helped me to find
      the way to your Translation Research Webring side. I started to read your
      Czech-English translation tips - extremely useful, excellent. I think I
      will be rather a grateful student of your notes than a useful contributor,
      but right now I cannot resist temptation to express my opinion about a
      matter of addressing people - perhaps you will find it useful. I was
      inspired by the way you addressed me in your e-mail message (written in
      Czech), namely "V��en� pane doktore Papou�ku". There is a difference between
      Czech and English in addressing people with academic titles. If you address
      in an English letter somebody who is for example a university professor or
      PhD, then: "Dear Professor Nov�k" or :"Dear Doctor Nov�k" is the
      translation of the Czech "V��en� pane profesore" or "V��en� pane doktore" -
      it's certainly not a mistake to write "V��en� pane doktore Nov�ku" but to
      add the name is more or less redundant. It is still more obvious in spoken
      Czech - if you say: "Pane doktore Nov�ku" instead of saying simply "Pane
      doktore", it almost immediately reveals that you are not a native Czech.
      Besides this some Czech names like Ponec, Brabec etc. change in the
      vocative into "Pon�e, Brab�e", and to say e.g. "Jak se m�te, pane doktore
      Pon�e" sounds almost comically (Czechs seem to feel it so that in addressing
      pople without a title they say "Jak se m�te, pane Ponec", which is not
      correct gramatically). Czechs have another academic title, which is:
      "in�en�r". In written and spoken Czech, the same holds as for addressing
      people, i.e. "Dobr� den, pane in�en�re" sounds better than "Dobr� den, pane
      in�en�re Nov�ku". However, there is a difference in the English translation
      of this title because "Engineer" means also something like a technician
      etc., and I never saw "Dear Engineer Brown" in an English letter.
      Thus a student at the university will always address his teacher "Pane
      profesore, mohu p�ij�t z�tra na zkou�ku" and never "Pane profesore Nov�ku,
      ...". I noticed that sometimes workers in factories and similar sites
      address people with academic titles (in Czech, of course) like "In�en�re,
      pod�vejte se n�m na to...", leaving out that "Pane". This is a kind of
      respect with respect to somebody with a higher qualification but still they
      do not want to be too formal with that "Pane in�en�re", because they feel
      that they are both on the same boat etc.

      Dr. D. Papou�ek

      Thanks Doc:)

      M.


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