Au revoir, mademoiselle!
ohr vwaar, maad-mwah-ZELL! Click below to hear this.*
It’s earth-shaking news, really! The French government is dropping the use of mademoiselle on official forms. This is the same as if the US government were to declare that official forms may not ask what form of address you prefer: no Mrs., no Miss, no Mr.
Of course, no one can stop the public from saying it. Cultural habits die hard, and this one is strongly ingrained. In France, if you don’t know a person’s last name, you just use titles–Monsieur for men, Madame or Mademoiselle for women. You enter a mom-and-pop store: you say Bonjour, Messieurs-Dames! You receive your train ticket at the window: Merci, Madame! Someone asks you if you speak English: Oui, Mademoiselle!
That’s why this is big news. Here’s the link to the New York Times article It’s in English. Want to guess how many generations it will take before mademoiselle disappears entirely from the language?
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: