Dropping titles

Earlier this year The Times changed its style and ceased to address people with their titles (Mr, Mrs, etc.), only referring to them by their surnames at the second mention and then owards, and caused a tiny storm in a small teacup as is wont on Twitter. I am going to do the same on this site from now on: first name and surname or full name at the first mention, then surname only. It was always a little stilted and affected to address people with titles, but my reasons for doing so were to create some distance and reduce potential aggression in my tone of writing. I should be able to switch fairly quickly, since it is something I am reasonably familiar with, particularly in the context of academic writing.

The biggest incentive for abandoning titles is the increasing difficulty in addressing people correctly, due to the gendered nature of titles. It was previously complicated enough due to the exasperating Mrs / Ms / Miss distinction, which is based on an antiquated way of addressing women depending on their marital status, but also where preference differed from one person to another even if the marital status was the same, thus an infinite source of faux pas. The most important thing is that individuals should be able to choose how they identify themselves and such to be accepted and respected. It can however be time-consuming to ensure the correct address, even if in many cases it is reasonably easy to establish by a quick search for the pronouns on their social media profiles.

Wherever possible, I am also going to use they / them by pluralizing. He / she and him / her do not cover the genders that exist in the world, and there is no satisfactorily gender-neutral, encompassing singular pronoun available in English. Language is always changing, reflecting usage, society, and culture. I may and most likely will lapse at some point, and there will be some inelegant and possibly interesting linguistic contortions.