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Madam Options
Koh Elaine
Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 7:58:30 AM
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Where I live, we call a female whose surname is Tan and who is married, Madam Tan.

Also, we address her in letters and emails as 'Dear Madam Tan'.

Do native speakers use 'Madam' in the above way as we do?

Thanks.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 8:16:24 AM

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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
No - it would be Mrs Tan (if she wanted the traditional address) or Ms Tan (in more modern terms).

A Madam is rather different.

It is used (without the name) to address a woman of very high social status - such as the Queen. Often pronounced as "Ma'am".

Some very pompous shop assistants use 'Madam' when speaking to customers. "Good afternoon Madam, how can I help?"

It is used for the owner or manager of a brothel.

It is used for a naughty or haughty little girl. - "Oh! You little Madam!"

madam
n, pl madams or (for sense 1)mesdames (ˈmeɪˌdæm)
1. a polite term of address for a woman, esp one considered to be of relatively high social status
2. a woman who runs a brothel
3. informal Brit a precocious or pompous little girl
Collins English Dictionary

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
jacobusmaximus
Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 8:18:22 AM

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Location: Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
If we know the surname of the woman we would address her as Miss, Mrs. (Abbreviation for Mistress) or, increasingly, Ms. If we don't know her name we would address her in the salutation as Madam.

I remember, therefore I am.
Koh Elaine
Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 10:50:01 AM
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Joined: 7/4/2012
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Thanks, DragOnspeaker and jacob.
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 5:47:37 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

As a Madam, I'm going to put in my 2 cents worth: I loathe it. It's used in one of two ways, as above:

a) to address a social superior or

b) a brothel-keeper.

If I'm buying something in a shop - especially when the salesperson is ripping me off -it's meaningless at best, and hypocritical at worst. (And yeah, sometimes one gets the feeling that "Madam" is what comes out of the mouth; while in the head they really *are* thinking: 'You old whore, you!'

I also have the perspicacity to judge that, if used by a particular elderly American, who genuinely was brought up to view the word as a title of respect; I shouldn't dream of making a song and dance about it. I would receive it as it was intended.



Koh Elaine
Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 7:50:12 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/4/2012
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1.I would like to ask whether it is OK to address the recipient of a letter as "Dear Madam" (minus the surname) at the beginning of the letter. I think it is not wrong since it is correct to write "Dear Sir".

2. What about "Dear Sir/Madam" when we do not want to be specific about the gender. In the past, we used "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam", depending on the gender of the recipient. Is this also the current way native speakers write?

Thanks.
Koh Elaine
Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 7:50:14 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/4/2012
Posts: 2,442
Neurons: 10,081
1. I would like to ask whether it is OK to address the recipient of a letter as "Dear Madam" (minus the surname) at the beginning of a letter. I think it is not wrong since it is correct to write "Dear Sir".

2. What about "Dear Sir/Madam" when we do not want to be specific about the gender. In the past, we used "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam", depending on the gender of the recipient. Is this also the current way native speakers write?

Thanks.
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 10:27:22 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 12,847
Neurons: 39,161
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Koh,

A lot of people do indeed do this...and again I thinks it's cultural: in the West there is not such a "space" between people one is doing business with.I don't know how else to say it. But in other parts of the world the relationship between business people is a lot more reserved. So addressing a letter to Dear Madam is the polite mode of address, yeah?

But Westerners like to make friends through business, and so would address it to Dear Annie Oakley, or Dear Jim Beam; rather than dear Sir or Madam. If they do repeated business it becomes Dear Annie and Dear Jim very quickly.

So it's not really a matter of language but of culture: people are used to dealing with people from all over the world now.Really, there is no "right way" or "wrong way". Just different ways.
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