1. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    Mister or Mr?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Mike Kobernus, Jan 6, 2015.

    So I have an old man in my novel. He is quite formal, and refers to people as Mr.

    Here is my question. When the prose describes him, for example, "Mr. Francis poured the tea," I use an abbreviation.

    But someone recently pointed out that I should not abbreviate in real speech. "Mister Francis! How do you do?"

    It looks a bit odd to me, to see the mixture of Mr. and Mister.

    Anyone got a view on this? I am mired in indecision….
     
  2. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Hmm. Personally, I would only use the abbreviation form "Mr." when it's the title of someone followed by their name. Such as "Mr. Francis poured the tea." So I would use it in both of your scenarios.

    However, I would use the word "Mister" if that's how you're referring to the character. The only example that comes to mind would be a commoner addressing a very rich person they don't know, "Mister, please could I have a penny?"
     
  3. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Sidney Poitier - They Call Me Mister Tibbs!

    In speech, we can't abbreviate spelling e.g. Mr. will always sound as mister. 'They call me Mister Tibbs!' Or, 'Penny for the guy, mister?' (Acronyms are a different issue.)

    Using description, a narrator would say, Mr. Tibbs poured the tea.

    That's how I see it.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Considering your speaker is formal, ask yourself how he would address the other person's wife in written dialogue. Would he say "Missus Francis! How do you do?" Or "Mistress Francis! How do you do?"

    If neither, better stick to Mr and Mrs.
     
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  5. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    No, I have to think that SwampDog has it right. Seems to me that in dialogue, you need to use the full term.

    "Mister Pumpkin, welcome to your doom!"
    Mr. Pumpkin shivered, but there was nothing he could do. Mr. Evil had caught him, and it was Holloween.
    "Do you worst, Mister Evil! But I'll never talk. Do you hear me! Never! Muahahahaahahah."

    Just for the sake of clarification, that is not really how I write…. ;)
     
  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Using "Mister" for speech doesn't seem right (perhaps being used next to a Mr. in text), so...

    [Goldfinger shows off his industrial laser by having it slowly track toward Bond, lying supine and lashed to slab of gold.]
    Goldfinger: This is gold, Mr Bond. All my life, I have been in love with its color, its brilliance, its divine heaviness. I welcome any enterprise that will increase my stock- which is considerable.
    Bond: I think you've made your point, Goldfinger. Thank you for the demonstration.
    Goldfinger: Choose your next witticism carefully, Mr Bond — it may be your last. The purpose of our two previous encounters is now very clear to me. I do not intend to be disturbed by another. Goodnight, Mr Bond. [leaves Bond]
    Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
    Goldfinger: [looks back, laughing] No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die! There's nothing you can talk to me about that I don't already know!
     
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  8. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    I agree with @Nicoel. I would only use mister if it was a replacement for a person's name. "You're in big trouble, mister!" In Mr. Poppers Penguins, it says, "Oh dear, there goes Mr. Popper."
     
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  9. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    Gah….so I am no closer to a resolution!

    Consensus..I need consensus...
     
  10. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    I don't think there is one. Looked at loads on line and they're all different. Style manuals, editors, the lot. The only consensus was to be consistent in each piece of work.

    Although I did think that a visual impression could be a deciding factor. Does it look right?
     
  11. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    Does it look right?

    No…not really. I thought it looked a bit odd to see the different methods, hand in hand so to speak.
    But technically, it MUST be right to use 'mister' is reported speech, since one does not abbreviate when one talks. Not like this, 'Mr.'
    Ergo, I feel Mr. S. Dog was correct. And yet...

    Still undecided...

    Anyone know what Strunk says on the matter?
     
  12. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    These abbreviations have become so commonplace, however, that it would look strange not to use them. And Mrs., for example. How you say it sounds nothing like the word it is abbreviating, so you're almost left with no choice but to abbreviate. If you then decide to use Mr. in speech, you can chalk it up as equality of the sexes. :)
     
  13. !ndigo
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    !ndigo Member

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    compare this
    "Ladies and gentlemen," he cried. "At the request of Mr. Gatsby we are
    going to play for you Mr. Vladimir Tostoff's latest work which attracted
    so much attention at Carnegie Hall last May."​

    with this
    "Ladies and gentlemen," he cried. "At the request of Mister Gatsby we are
    going to play for you Mister Vladimir Tostoff's latest work which attracted
    so much attention at Carnegie Hall last May."
    I personally prefer the first one. The reader understands the Mr. is to be read as Mister so it's not as if you are making something clearer. Also, this won't apply to everyone but I almost exclusively think of "Mister" as being a child or commoner speaking to an upper class person whereas "Mr." seems to imply the two speakers are equal.
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I use the abbreviated form as part of a title, always, dialogue or narrative. I use the full form when it's serving as a sort of pronoun. For me, it follows the same rule as military ranks.

    Sgt. Briggs was nowhere to be seen. I had never known the sergeant to abandon his post. I became concerned.

    Mr. Briggs was late. Again. He opened his mouth as if to speak and I cut him off with a hand held firmly up. "Mister, you've no idea the trouble you're in."
     
  15. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    Alright. I am going to come down on the same side as Wreybies, et al.

    I will now need to go back and change all those damned Misters that I put it...Thank god for global replace!

    Thanks for the input folks. It was a hard road, but we go there! :)
     
  16. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    More power to your elbow, mister. Or is that Mr.? :D
     

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