Friday, May 06, 2016

Titles, redux

I'm reading a light little cozy and keep getting distracted by the author's inability to get British titles right.

"Dame Ianthe Flower" is not "Dame Flower". She's Dame Ianthe, like Dame Judi Dench isn't Dame Dench and just like Sir Ian McKellen isn't Sir McKellen.

A man is either "Lord Roderick Bowen" or he's "Lord Bowen", but he can't be both. "Lord Roderick" would be a younger son of a Duke or Marquess. And if he holds the title in his own right (which this character does), he'd be Roderick, Lord Bowen.

Eve, his American-born wife, isn't "Lady Eve" either way. Women are "Lady Firstname" only if they're the daughters of a duke, marquis, or earl (which Eve the American isn't). Otherwise, they take their husband's title (of course), so Eve married to Lord Bowen is Lady Bowen, and Eve married to Lord Roderick Bowen is Lady Roderick Bowen.

And the author is British!

I'm also bemused by her capitalizing jobs (there was an old Butler in faded livery; this is Lord Roderick's Valet). And if there's one thing reading British mysteries has taught me, it's that Scotland Yard has to be called in by the local cops; they don't just swoop in and set up a murder investigation because a guest in the house calls them.

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5 Comments:

At 10:04 AM, May 06, 2016 Blogger CC Lackaye had this to say...

Thank You! I've always wondered about that (i knew it was "Dame Ianthe", but Lady Firstname v Lady Surname always confused me)!

 
At 10:38 AM, May 07, 2016 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Picky has left a new comment on your post "Post title":

Congratulations again on your rare knowledge of the stupidities of the British title nonsense. I'm afraid it doesn't surprise me that the author is British - ignorance abounds even in Britain on this subject (few of us socialise with younger sons of dukes in the pub) although one might have hoped your author's editor would have known better.

Newspapers here haven't helped. It's understandable that a paper would want to clearly identify someone for the reader, leading to stuff like "Lord (Laurence) Olivier" but they also have a strange desire to inform us of first names (especially, it seems to me, women's first names) so your Lady Bowen often appears, at least on first mention, as Lady Eve Bowen, which annoys me unnecessarily.

When I was a working editor I did meet colleagues who said "what does it matter, it's just silly aristocratic nonsense" but I have the view that one has a responsibility to get people's names right.

As to the Met, yes in theory they are just London's local cops, although if the corpse in the library turned out to be the prime minister or the Duchess of Cambridge, or the poisoning in the saloon bar of the Dog and Duck involved members of the Taliban, I suspect the village copper might find the Yard turning up without their spending too much time on the protocol of the Chief Constable's request.

 
At 10:39 AM, May 07, 2016 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Sorry! I thought i was deleting the notification but instead I deleted you comment!

 
At 10:39 AM, May 07, 2016 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Picky has left a new comment on your post "Post title":

Congratulations again on your rare knowledge of the stupidities of the British title nonsense. I'm afraid it doesn't surprise me that the author is British - ignorance abounds even in Britain on this subject (few of us socialise with younger sons of dukes in the pub) although one might have hoped your author's editor would have known better.

Newspapers here haven't helped. It's understandable that a paper would want to clearly identify someone for the reader, leading to stuff like "Lord (Laurence) Olivier" but they also have a strange desire to inform us of first names (especially, it seems to me, women's first names) so your Lady Bowen often appears, at least on first mention, as Lady Eve Bowen, which annoys me unnecessarily.

When I was a working editor I did meet colleagues who said "what does it matter, it's just silly aristocratic nonsense" but I have the view that one has a responsibility to get people's names right.

As to the Met, yes in theory they are just London's local cops, although if the corpse in the library turned out to be the prime minister or the Duchess of Cambridge, or the poisoning in the saloon bar of the Dog and Duck involved members of the Taliban, I suspect the village copper might find the Yard turning up without their spending too much time on the protocol of the Chief Constable's request.

 
At 10:25 AM, May 09, 2016 Anonymous Picky had this to say...

When one gets to my age one has a disturbing tendency to repeat oneself.

 

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