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Archive for June, 2011

What is the proper greeting when meeting the Prince of Belgium? Is protocol the same as meeting the British Royals?
— Marilee Tatum

Dear Ms. Tatum:
When in Belgium the form of address for the princes of the royal family  … in both French and Dutch ….  is Monseigneur.
       But, in English it is acceptable to use the forms of address used when addressing similarly ranked British royalty … so all can be addressed as Your Royal Highness.

         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Is it improper for someone to put a little flag (appropriately displayed) on a civilian’s grave? … like the flags that are put on the military graves on Memorial Day?  We have a gentleman in our town that is questioning another citizen placing a flag on her husband’s grave.
— Anita Clarkson

Dear Ms. Clarkson:
The American flag is frequently seen the graves of veterans, so placed to honor their service.  But, anyone can put a small American flag on a grave if it is done correctly.
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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My mother taught me that there is a rule that when a man is deceased, one should not refer to him as “Mr.”  I never asked her about whether a deceased woman should not be referred to as “Mrs.,” but my question refers to that as well. Do you know of such a rule?
— Sue Holton

Dear Ms. Holton:
I have not heard of this as a rule, and I had not thought about it …. but it is true.
“Mr.” “Miss”  “Mrs.”  “Ms.” are honorifics and are used by others in direct address to a person. The honorifics are attached to the name as a courtesy to the person … and to define them in some way … as a man, woman …. or with women to define their marital status.  They are used in conversation, on an envelope, on letter’s address block or salutation, or on a place card.
But, if a person is deceased, you aren’t addressing them in any of those circumstances.
The same is true with courtesy titles …. The Honorable or His/Her Excellency … are not used with deceased elected officials names or with deceased diplomats.
Thanks for this question!
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Is it proper (or required) to play the National Anthem at an event where Mrs. Obama is speaking? Is it a good idea to?
Does it make the event become more formal by adding the National Anthem to the program?
        — Daryl Fairlington

Dear Mr. Fairlington:
It would depend on the event …. not on the presence of the First Lady.
Mrs. Obama could attend a local school’s assembly and no anthem would be played.
Or she could attend a civic event and the anthem would be played. But it’s not due to the presence of the First Lady.
I’d agree that including the playing of the National Anthem does create a more formal event.
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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What does one do with their gum if they have already sat down to eat?
Plate?
Napkin? 
        — D.P. in Pittsburgh

Dear D.P.:
There is no correct place for disposing of trash or gum on the dining table.
The person should excuse him or herself from the table and go get rid of it in a trash can.
        – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How do I address an envelope to a United States Navy Captain and a Dentist who are married?
 Captain Joshua & Dr. Brooke Jones?
        — D. Bainbridge

Dear Mr. D. Bainbridge:
Most formally people with titles and ranks get their names as a unit … not combined with another person’s name. Since he is in uniform … military uniformed personnel have precedence over civilians … so the USN Captain is listed first.
So the form would be:
Captain Joshua Jones
                and Dr. Brooke Jones
                (Address)
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I currently have a two certifications that I include on my e-mail signature block. I will be adding a number of additional certifications over the next 6-12 months, and eventually a Master’s degree in Homeland Security as well. Do I use them all in professional email correspondence if they are relevant to my profession on the whole, or should I tailor them on an email-to-email basis?
        — Justin Dwight, CHLS, PCP

Dear Mr. Dwight:
A signature block is not your resume where you would list everything …. it’s just you signing a letter.
I’d say including three starts to get a bit much … four might be over the top.
But the real gauge will be what is the typical use … the practice of your colleagues and peers.
They are the ones who will have an opinion on whether you have too much alphabet soup after your name — if you are being appropriate or pretentious.
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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