kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Form of Address: Giving due respect to titles

That’s Officer Fido to you.

The stewardess thought that he was a medical doctor. He was  a  doctoral holder. The title “Dr” is used by a wide range of professionals such as dentists, veterinarians, medical doctors and postgraduates. THIS is a story  related by the late Professor Datuk Dr Nik Rashid Abd. Rashid, a former deputy vice chancellor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). One day,  he was asked by  an airline cabin crew member to give medical attention to a fellow passenger.

Now even a  doctoral holder in the United States is not addressed as Dr anymore because it violates the Associated Press naming convention. The title “Dr” is reserved for holders of  medical degrees.


Robert Cassola in a letter to the editor of Physics Today relates a story of how a police officer and a  physicist, who has a doctoral degree, engaging in a National Public Radio interview were treated differently.

The officer was always respectfully addressed as “Officer Jones” and even his canine partner was frequently referred to as “Officer Fido”.  The  physicist, on the other hand, was simply referred to as “Jim” or “Jim Smith”; never as “Dr Smith” or even as “physicist Jim Smith”.

To add insult to injury, listeners who called in to ask questions also referred to  Smith by his first name while they addressed the policeman as “Officer Jones”.

According to  Robert Cassola, as a general rule, the media will always refer to a policeman as “officer”, a physician as “doctor”, a soldier as “major”, a cook as “chef” and even the individual in charge of an athletic team as “coach”.

Proper address  of a titled individual is a sign of respect and credibility. It befits social decorum and you endear yourself to that person.

UKM vice chancellor Professor Tan Sri  Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin has on many occasions reminded  fresh undergraduates to address their lecturers or professors properly. They cannot simply call them Pakcik, Makcik, Abang or Kak.

Cassola  stated at the end of his letter that as physicists,we must demand the same level of respect other professionals receive; to demand less diminishes our Science and demeans our profession.

He further suggests that a dialogue should be initiated with the print media to have the Associated Press naming convention changed.

The media is all-powerful, they won’t simply budge. They call the shots. No wonder their chiefs are called Barons. No other professions have that privilege.

Source: New Straits Times Learning Curve  24 March 2012
Tags: education

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