Female form of address for officers'

Bowler1

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A simple enough question this time.

For a male officers it's - sir.

For a female officers - mam? ma'am? sir?

I have not been able to decide on my form of address and I do of course have women in authority positions, so I need to settle on something.

What do you think?
 

The Judge

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Ma'am is the usual, but you could always differentiate between the militaries, eg soldiers might call a senior officer "sir" regardless of sex, whereas in the navy they use "ma'am" because they're more genteel. Never "mam" though -- that may be how it's pronounced, but it's only spelled that way for mothers in the Midlands and oop north.
 

Vertigo

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In the British, American and Canadian armed forces ma'am is used to address female commissioned officers and, I believe warrant officers.
 

thaddeus6th

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AYe, I'd go for ma'am.

'Sir' just sounds wrong, like when female thespians refer to themselves as 'actors'.
 

kaal

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From the MOD RAF FAQs:-
Any officer (and all non-commissioned ranks) address a senior officer as "Sir" or "Ma'am".
...
Warrant Officers are addressed as "Mister" (or "Mrs", "Ms" or "Miss" for female Warrant Officers) by commissioned officers (and as "Sir" or "Ma'am" by everyone else).
Can't find anything directly on the Army or Navy MOD sites, but I'd guess the same general forms would work...

K
 
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Arkose

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I can't think of my drill sergeant as anything but ma'am*. see frightened us so much that everyone would slip with the sir. If you fumbled and tried to recover she would yell at you more, you just said "sir" or "ma'am" with confidence it seemed not to matter. I rather would have a 6'-5", muscle building, drill sergeant than her any day. She was flat out mean, We kinda thought she had to compensate for her size and sex. **

* Anytime I get frustrated about arguing with my wife, I think about being yelled at for 6+ weeks, from a 5 foot petite women I could not stand, and think "Life is good."

**When a drill sergeant says, "I don't want to hear, I don't know. Make up anything. Say a freaking pink elephant did it," Don't actually say "a pink elephant did it."
 

kaufmannp

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Throughout my time in the US Army it has been "Sir" and Ma'am" respectively. In my current desk-bound assignment I typically address female officers by "Ma'am" when writing emails, so same deal when spelling it out rather then speaking it.

One charming anecdote is from my first few years while I was assigned to 2/320 Field Artillery and our BN motto was "Balls of the Eagle". When I encountered a female officer and rendered the greeting of the day along with the motto, she somewhat irritably replied with "And flying ovaries to you!"

Good times!
 

anivid

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Personally, I think neither sounds quite right even if ma'am is technically correct. You could avoid use of sir/ ma'am altogether. "Yes captain" "No lieutenant"
This IMO would be the right form - why mix civil titles as Sir/Madam into the military ??

Use the officers rank in a titulation - or, as I often experienced : use the rank one step higher than the actual one :p
- and leave the civil titles to civil life ;)
 

anivid

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- IF absolutely wanting to use civil titles in military settings, you can avoid your initial problem by adressing both "gov" - as I also have heard many times.
:p:p
 

Bowler1

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Even the simple questions take on a life of there own on here. Arkose, your drill sergeant sounded like a one off. Did you try for yellow maybe, she might not have liked the colour pink!

Thank you to those with real experience of the armed forces, realism is important.

I do plan to drop in the ranks to break the 'sir' and 'ma'am' up a bit, but it's very hard get around a - yes, ma'am - when issuing orders.

I have written up one very gruff and salty Major that has taken on a wee life of his own. I can safely assume such characters exsisted for real in the armed forces?
 

kaufmannp

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Even the simple questions take on a life of there own on here. Arkose, your drill sergeant sounded like a one off. Did you try for yellow maybe, she might not have liked the colour pink!

Thank you to those with real experience of the armed forces, realism is important.

I do plan to drop in the ranks to break the 'sir' and 'ma'am' up a bit, but it's very hard get around a - yes, ma'am - when issuing orders.

I have written up one very gruff and salty Major that has taken on a wee life of his own. I can safely assume such characters exsisted for real in the armed forces?


Oh my yes. Saltiness is in fact encouraged to some extent.
 

Hammerhand

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Sir or Ma'am.

For example:
"Sir, here is the draft reconnaissance report you asked for." - use of sir as speaking to an officer
"Thank you Staff, I'll return it to you tomorrow." - Officer uses rank (staff being staff sergeant)

"Staff, where is the report?" - see above
"Captain Kelly has it ma'am" - use rank referring to someone else
"Corporal Hughes, get your hands out of your pockets."

For the most part, it is first name terms, it only gets starchy when superior officers are about.
 

Blackrook

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My understanding is that you don't use "sir" or "ma'am" in referring to non-com's. You call them "sargeant."
 

Vertigo

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Warrant Officers are referred to as sir or ma'am. They are NCO's above the rank of sergeant - sergeant-major, company sergeant-major, regimental sergeant-major. I'm not sure but I believe the naval equivalents are the petty officers, not sure about the RAF.

Also this might be very different in the US army. The basic rank of sergeant In the US army is below that in the British Army (probably about the same as corporal). A US army infantry sergeant will generally be in charge of a fire team of about 4, whereas in the UK army the sergeant is the platoon second-in-commander (second to the lieutenant who commands). Also I think the definition of warrant officer in the US is somewhat different to the British warrant officer.

The distinction by the way is technical. All ranks about private are actually technically 'officers':

Officers - officers by commision
Warrant Officers - officers by warrant
NCOs - officers by seniority
 

The Judge

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And anyway, this is SF set in the future with aliens so things could be very different. Bowler, use the terms you want to use. (Except "mam"...)
 

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