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#1
Old 10-25-2010, 03:26 AM
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How do you pronounce "Ms"?

Inspired by this thread

Never thought about it before, but as a non-native English speaker, I'm wondering how you can hear the difference whether someone is addressed as "Mrs" or "Ms". Is "Ms" pronounced "Missis"/"Missus" or "Miss"? If the latter, how do can you hear the difference between "Ms" and "Miss"? Or has "Miss" been removed from the English vocabulary, thus removing any risk for mis(s)understandings?
#2
Old 10-25-2010, 03:30 AM
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Mzz (or Miz if you prefer). Miss and Missus don't end with such a buzzing sound.

-- Ms. Cazzle
#3
Old 10-25-2010, 03:30 AM
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I pronounce it "miz". Mrs. is pronounced "missuz", and Miss is pronounced "miss".
#4
Old 10-25-2010, 03:38 AM
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Ah. Never thought of that "z" sound.

Now I just have to teach my tongue to buzz in a new place. *muttering under my breath* "Mz. Mzzz. Mzzzzz! MZZZZZZZZ!"

Thankz!
#5
Old 10-25-2010, 03:38 AM
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Mrs. = 'missus'
Miss = 'miss'
Ms. = 'mizz'
#6
Old 10-25-2010, 03:46 AM
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Ms. was created in strict spelling analogy with Mr., by people who felt that indicating a woman's state of marriage was unnecessary and unfair when men suffered no such indication. Mr. was used by both married and unmarried men.

Unlike Mr. and Mrs., though, which are abbreviations for "Master" and "Mistress" respectively, Ms. has no unabbreviated form.
#7
Old 10-25-2010, 03:48 AM
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Another non-native here, and I'm very bad at differentiating several groups of English consonants. The first place I ran into Ms. in significant amounts was in Miami, a location notorious for the number of non-natives and bilinguals, many of which are perfectly happy to pronounce "the" as either "de" or "dee" (as am I; heck, I avoid saying "jail" because apparently I pronounce it "Yale"): Mrs. is "misis", Miss is "mis", Ms. is "ems" (like MnMs but without the "eman") when followed by a lastname, and "miz" as an independent form of address (when the old "excuse me, miss", which was valid for any woman independently of marriage status, becomes "excuse me miz").

Last edited by Nava; 10-25-2010 at 03:53 AM.
#8
Old 10-25-2010, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
Unlike Mr. and Mrs., though, which are abbreviations for "Master" and "Mistress" respectively, Ms. has no unabbreviated form.
I would say "Ms." is "Mistress," as well--by strict analogy.
#9
Old 10-25-2010, 05:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spark240 View Post
I would say "Ms." is "Mistress," as well--by strict analogy.
I don't know what the analogy would be. Miss = unmarried woman, Mistress/Mrs. = married woman, Ms. = any woman, and as mentioned above was created out of whole cloth specifically to bridge the gap between Miss and Mrs.. Even its pronunciation is a hybrid of the two. How would it be any more analogous to Mrs. than to Miss? Its whole point is that it is NOT an abbreviation of anything in particular.

Last edited by Gary T; 10-25-2010 at 05:17 AM.
#10
Old 10-25-2010, 05:31 AM
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Because Mistress was originally the female version of Mister.
#11
Old 10-25-2010, 07:42 AM
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IIRC Miss and Mrs. both come from Mistress. Not sure when they became distinct honorifics for single and married ladies.
#12
Old 10-25-2010, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
Because Mistress was originally the female version of Mister.
Not really. At least, not in the same manner as "waitress" is the female version of "waiter".

"Mistress" was a woman who was married to a "Mister". If Jane Jones was married to John, she would not go as "Mrs. Jane Jones", but as "Mrs. John Jones". I don't remember what title she would use if she had never married.
#13
Old 10-25-2010, 08:21 AM
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Not quite. A mistress was a woman of a certain social status – basically, she owned property, ran a household and had servants., or was treated with the same respect as if she did. The usual way of achieving this status was by marriage, but it could be achieved otherwise. A woman who inherited landed property (in default of mail heirs, naturally), was the mistress of that property.

By the time the term had become simply “missus”, it had lost those connotations, and pretty much the only way to acquire the title was by marrying, or by passing as married or widowed.
#14
Old 10-25-2010, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Mrs. = 'missus'
Miss = 'miss'
Ms. = 'mizz'
This is very close to on target -- just noting that phonetically, "Mrs." renders with a voiced silibant at the end, "missuz" not "missus".

And there is one exception to the "Miss is phonetically spelled" standard: The Southern American idiomatic form of address where an adult female, regardless of married status, is addressed as "Miss + [Given Name]" pronounces "Miss" as "miz", which is occasionally rendered that way in jocular 'dialectal' writing, as in Pogo's "Miz Beaver," for a matronly swamp resident of that species. For example, our former landlady was formally Mrs. Horton, but known to her wide social and business circles universally as "Miss Evelyn", pronounced with the "Miss" ending in /z/ and the vowels ever so slightly drawled out.

Last edited by Polycarp; 10-25-2010 at 10:06 AM.
#15
Old 10-25-2010, 10:27 AM
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In rapid, colloquial speech, there is often little to distinguish the pronunciations of "Ms." and "Miss," but it hardly matters because almost no one goes by "Miss" anymore.
#16
Old 10-25-2010, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polycarp View Post
This is very close to on target -- just noting that phonetically, "Mrs." renders with a voiced silibant at the end, "missuz" not "missus".

And there is one exception to the "Miss is phonetically spelled" standard: The Southern American idiomatic form of address where an adult female, regardless of married status, is addressed as "Miss + [Given Name]" pronounces "Miss" as "miz", which is occasionally rendered that way in jocular 'dialectal' writing, as in Pogo's "Miz Beaver," for a matronly swamp resident of that species. For example, our former landlady was formally Mrs. Horton, but known to her wide social and business circles universally as "Miss Evelyn", pronounced with the "Miss" ending in /z/ and the vowels ever so slightly drawled out.
I'd say there's a schwah before the Z...more like "miss'z"
#17
Old 10-25-2010, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
I don't know what the analogy would be.
The analogy is to "Master." The equivalent feminine term is "Mistress." Given that "Master" is non-indicative of marital status, the exactly analogous term for women would be "Mistress," also used non-indicatively. The problem is that "Mrs." was already in use indicatively and couldn't easily be ruled to lose that meaning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UDS View Post
A mistress was a woman of a certain social status – basically, she owned property, ran a household and had servants., or was treated with the same respect as if she did. The usual way of achieving this status was by marriage, but it could be achieved otherwise.
Correct. In the same sense, a master is not just any male, but one who may be addressed with respect. "Ms." is a newfangled device, but its purpose is to establish an exactly analogous form of "old-fashioned" respectful address for women.

Last edited by Peremensoe; 10-25-2010 at 11:14 AM.
#18
Old 10-25-2010, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
I don't know what the analogy would be. Miss = unmarried woman, Mistress/Mrs. = married woman, Ms. = any woman, and as mentioned above was created out of whole cloth specifically to bridge the gap between Miss and Mrs.. Even its pronunciation is a hybrid of the two. How would it be any more analogous to Mrs. than to Miss? Its whole point is that it is NOT an abbreviation of anything in particular.
Actually, Ms. considerably antedates the modern feminist movement, as an abbreviation for Mistress; it is attested in the 17th and 18th centuries. As others have said, "Mistress" was similar to our Ms. because it could be used indifferently for a married or unmarried woman: witness Mistress Quickly becoming Mistress Pistol.

It is in fact the division between Mrs. and Miss (both of which are also abbreviations for Mistress) that is the innovation.

Similarly, in several European languages without an exact equivalent of modern "Ms.," what's happening is that the equivalent of "Mrs."/"Mistress" is coming to be used for all women, because like "Mistress" it's simply the feminine form of the masculine title, such as Madame, Seora, Signora and so forth, while the unmarried title, a diminutive, is falling out of use.

As for the OP, there's nothing too complicated: Mrs. is /'mIsIz/, Miss is /mIs/, Ms. is /mIz/ (which in several dialectal regions is a long-standing pronunciation of "Mrs.", incidentally).

Last edited by matt_mcl; 10-25-2010 at 11:37 AM.
#19
Old 10-25-2010, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by matt_mcl View Post
Actually, Ms. considerably antedates the modern feminist movement...
I had no idea. That's really interesting.
#20
Old 10-25-2010, 12:43 PM
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Miz.
#21
Old 10-25-2010, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chessic Sense View Post
I'd say there's a schwah before the Z...more like "miss'z"
Close but no cigar, as Bill told Monica.

It's a "barred small capital I" in phonemic transcription -- like the schwa a sound heard in unstressed syllables, but pronounced slightly further forward than the schwa. And as you note it's somewhat elided.
#22
Old 10-25-2010, 02:01 PM
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The only time "The Family Circus" was ever funny was once back in the 70s when Dolly explained to Jeffy, "You call a lady 'Mrs.' is she's married, 'Miss' is she's not married, and 'Ms.' if it's a secret".
#23
Old 10-25-2010, 02:09 PM
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Of course, like all things, I think this is somewhat regional or time specific.

Growing up in southeast in the 90's, I've almost never heard anyone use "missuz" or "missus" for a woman. To me it sounds very antiquated and would be used if you were putting on some kind of faux accent of high class.

Men were "mister ____." Women were "miss ___," with the "i" barely being pronounced at all.
#24
Old 10-25-2010, 05:25 PM
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I don't find that the final sound of Mrs. is always vocalized (as [z]). It depends on what follows it. It it's followed by an unvoiced consonant, it is an unvoiced [s]. It is only voiced before a voiced consonant or vowel. When standing alone, it depends on the speaker.
#25
Old 10-25-2010, 05:32 PM
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In my experience, 90 percent of the use of "Mrs." or "Ms." is by children, and when I was a kid, it was invariably elided -- MzJones, M'Smith, and the like. You couldn't tell just by pronunciation which one was meant.
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