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#181431 01/04/09 06:45 AM
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Dear Sir or Madame,

Lately I took a spoken English test, in which the examinees are required to make a presentation.

The jury were two teachers, a gentleman and a lady.

When opening my speech, I want to address them in respect. What should I call them?

Will "Dear Madame, Dear Sir, Good Morning! I'm happy to ..." do?

And here, if I use "Madame", does the word imply a married or senior lady? And what's the difference among "Madam", "Madame","Ma'ma"?

Returning to the context, what's the best or safest way to address a group or a single person in face with respect, without the knowledge of their/his/her age or marriage status?

Thanks and Happy New Year!

Calli.

Last edited by callithump; 01/04/09 06:48 AM.

Do inform me if you see any corrections needed in my written English.
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I'd go with your first guess. It's a bit formal, but that may not have been out of place here. In some contexts Madame would imply elder or married, but given the situation here I think it is appropriate. Madam can also mean the proprietress of a house of prostitution but it would not be the case in this context and probably wouldn't even come to mind. As for the difference between madame and madam would be undetectable in spoken English. Ma'ma would be totally innappropriate. I'm not sure what you intend by the apostrophe in the word, but it wouldn't be heard in the spoken version. Other than that, Mama means mother and is not used in this context in standard English. In versions of English where it would be used, its meaning is entirely inappropriate.

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I bet he meant ma'am in the latest instance. just guessin' tho'..
-ron o.

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Originally Posted By: callithump


Returning to the context, what's the best or safest way to address a group or a single person in face with respect, without the knowledge of their/his/her age or marriage status?

My choice is "Esteemed ________". In the case of a presentation, you might make this "Esteemed jurors" or "Esteemed examiners", depending on which you feel more appropriate. When addressing a larger group, "Esteemed listeners" or "Esteemed audience" works well. If they are your peers, "Esteemed colleagues" is a good choice. None of the listed choices refers to sex, age or marital status, which you might find helpful. I don't know if I would use it to address a single person, however. I would probably just use, as you suggested, "Good morning/afternoon". Remember that you will always need to take into account expressions of personal taste in the forums on this site. While some might find my choices stiff or overformal, I would deliver them with a warm smile, and I feel they would be well received. I hope this helps! :0)

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I am with Twosleepy.
Esteemed is very formal but the situation seems to be a formal one. Dear is almost always appropriate in writing; in speaking it is less common and carries more connotation of affection than it does in writing.
Less formal (and therefore more common in N. America) would be to say just Good morning/afternoon Ma'am (looking at her,) Sir (looking at him.) In a larger group "Ladies and Gentlemen" instead of Ma'am and Sir.

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I am with Twosleepy.
Esteemed is very formal but the situation seems to be a formal one. Dear is almost always appropriate in writing; in speaking it is less common and carries more connotation of affection than it does in writing.
Less formal (and therefore more common in N. America) would be to say just Good morning/afternoon Ma'am (looking at her,) Sir (looking at him.) In a larger group "Ladies and Gentlemen" instead of Ma'am and Sir.

PS Haven't seen you for a while Callie. Nice to have you back.

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If you know their names, in that exact situation, I would go with that:
Good morning, (looking at one person) Professor Smith, (look at the other person), Doctor Jones. I'm happy to...
Not a good general solution, but addressing two people who are slightly familiar to you if they were an unknown "To whom it may concern" seems very artificial and in danger of seeming humorous or sarcastic.

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Thank you guys for your kind help. grin

The situation in the context was that I had to prepare the address before I knew the examiners' age, name or marriage status, though I knew the count of examiners were about two. I must show respect and find a safe way to avoid unnecessary mis-comprehensions or making listeners uneasy. The title(s) was/were spoken in face when it came to the presentation, so it might be not the same as in writing.

From the replies, I understand that:

* "Dear Sir, Dear Madam" is more used in writing than in speech. But if it's used, it's not unacceptable.
(The "Ma'ma" in my post should have been Ma'am. Sorry for that. blush)

* "Esteemed XXX" (Esteemed Examiners, in my case) is appropriate and is helpful to relieve the headache of considering the sex, age or marriage status. But it might be overformaml when applied to a single person in face.

* For a single person, I might be able to directly look at him/her and greet. In this case, I call a gentleman "Sir", and call a lady "Madam". So I would say, "Good Morning, Sir. I'm happy to be here to ...", or "Good Morning, Madam. I'm happy to be here to ...". Will this be ok in this single-person case?

* Eye contacts and expressions, etc, are part of the presentation and integrated with the words used in speech. Together they will decide whether the address make others feel respected and comfortable or not.

* If I do know their names and title(seldom in such an exam's case - it's intended that you don't know them.), I can call them in the form of "Professor John", "Dr. Jane", etc.

* "To whom it may concerns" can do well, but might be too formal or distant in talk to my understanding.

Do I understand this correctly? Any place I should take notice of?

I'm happy back here after a while of AWOL. laugh

Happy holiday seasons to all. Thanks


Do inform me if you see any corrections needed in my written English.
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Quote:
(The "Ma'ma" in my post should have been Ma'am. Sorry for that. )

Merely a typo, no problem.

Quote:
"Dear Sir, Dear Madam" is more used in writing than in speech. But if it's used, it's not unacceptable.

I wouldn't use it if I didn't know them,

Quote:
when applied to a single person in face.

an individual in person , or a single person face to face

Quote:
* "Esteemed XXX" (Esteemed Examiners, in my case) is appropriate and is helpful to relieve the headache of considering the sex, age or marriage status. But it might be overformaml when applied to a single person in face.

* If I do know their names and title(seldom in such an exam's case - it's intended that you don't know them.), I can call them in the form of "Professor John", "Dr. Jane", etc.

I agree.

Quote:
* Eye contacts and expressions, etc, are part of the presentation and integrated with the words used in speech. Together they will decide whether the address make others feel respected and comfortable or not.

Again I agree. And, by the way this is very well worded.

Quote:
* For a single person, I might be able to directly look at him/her and greet. In this case, I call a gentleman "Sir", and call a lady "Madam". So I would say, "Good Morning, Sir. I'm happy to be here to ...", or "Good Morning, Madam. I'm happy to be here to ...". Will this be ok in this single-person case?

Yes, you could also use it if there are two or three people by greeting the lady and gentleman separately (Good morning, Sir. Good morning, Madam. I am happy...) or, if there are more than one of each gender replace "Sir" with "Gentlemen" and "Madam/Ma'am" with "Ladies."

Quote:
* "To whom it may concerns" can do well, but might be too formal or distant in talk to my understanding.

Don't use this in a face to face setting. It is only used in writing and when you are not sure who will receive the letter. For example if you are writing to the complaints department of a large store and don't know the name or title of the person who will receive and, hopefully, deal with the issue.


You have written in the past tense. Is the address over and if so how did it go?

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Yes. The exam has been finished. It went smoothly, or even more smoothly than I expected. Maybe I could get a not-so-bad score in it. smile

By the way, before the exam, there was an arranged training for that. The trainers were native-speakers and they came here on a short trip. That training helped us a lot.


Do inform me if you see any corrections needed in my written English.

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