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Old 03-27-2012, 08:27 AM   #1
patrickt
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English Usage - Former Governor

I'm curious. I use titles for people who were once a judge, a president, a governor. President Clinton is no longer president but I believe he keeps the title. President Truman will always be a president.

This morning I was reading the news and saw, "Former Representative Jefferson...." The representative in question is in prison.

#hen does a judge become a former judge or a president become the former president? Is it strictly the users preference or is there some sort of rule to cover this?
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Old 03-27-2012, 12:05 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by patrickt View Post
I'm curious. I use titles for people who were once a judge, a president, a governor. President Clinton is no longer president but I believe he keeps the title. President Truman will always be a president.

This morning I was reading the news and saw, "Former Representative Jefferson...." The representative in question is in prison.

#hen does a judge become a former judge or a president become the former president? Is it strictly the users preference or is there some sort of rule to cover this?
I've always thought it was an oddity of the US Presidential system that former presidents were still referred to as President.

Otherwise, they are all job titles. If you aren't in the job any more, you don't get the title.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:03 PM   #3
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I#hen does a judge become a former judge or a president become the former president? Is it strictly the users preference or is there some sort of rule to cover this?
I think it changes when you get sent to prison!
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:09 PM   #4
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I think it changes when you get sent to prison!
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Old 03-27-2012, 06:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by patrickt View Post
I'm curious. I use titles for people who were once a judge, a president, a governor. President Clinton is no longer president but I believe he keeps the title. President Truman will always be a president.

This morning I was reading the news and saw, "Former Representative Jefferson...." The representative in question is in prison.

#hen does a judge become a former judge or a president become the former president? Is it strictly the users preference or is there some sort of rule to cover this?
It is common to refer to former judges and representatives as "Judge" or "Representative" where I live, but it's only a courtesy title, and it would not be wrong or inappropriate to call them "Mr." or "Ms." or whatever.

In the cases I'm familiar with, the judge or representative has stepped down from their previous position and been made the head of an agency...where they may encounter many of the same people they encountered in their previous occupation.

Note, too, that's it's difficult to not to continue to call someone "Judge X" if you've been doing so for the past 15 years...
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Old 03-27-2012, 06:12 PM   #6
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covers most circumstances...with good rules of thumb, like "once honorable, always honorable."
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:07 PM   #7
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Talking

There is the strange practice (in the UK anyway ) of some retired members of the Forces insisting on being referred to by their ex-rank - Captain Mark Phillips being one notably daft example.
I know one instance of a ex-mariner who would always let you know he was "Captain ......" still, at 76 y-o.
The funny thing was, he always walked as if he never quite got his land-legs back - literally proceeding with a rolling kind of gait....
Sadly, when I tried it I was accused of consuming the Demon Drink, quite falsley.

The "ex-" , by the by, is apparently OK with some "trades" (ex- MP, ex-banker, for example ) but I don't ever recall hearing of ex-Captain Mark Phillips, for example, certainly.

Bit infra dig, prob'ly.

Lower the old tone slightly.

And while we're on it, what about Leftenant and Lootenant - Noel Coward musical in there somewhere..............
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Old 03-27-2012, 09:14 PM   #8
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The "ex-" , by the by, is apparently OK with some "trades" (ex- MP, ex-banker, for example ) but I don't ever recall hearing of ex-Captain Mark Phillips, for example, certainly.
Seems a bit strange. He is an ex-. Princess Anne's ex-.
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Old 03-27-2012, 10:03 PM   #9
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Either President or former President is correct usage; the same holds true for many other honorifics. I think more depends of the user than the usee. In the case, for instance, of a news commentator it might be “former President Bush”, but “President Clinton” for a left leaning reporter but just the opposite for a right leaning one.
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Old 03-27-2012, 11:05 PM   #10
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Either President or former President is correct usage; the same holds true for many other honorifics. I think more depends of the user than the usee. In the case, for instance, of a news commentator it might be “former President Bush”, but “President Clinton” for a left leaning reporter but just the opposite for a right leaning one.
I always get confused with the Presidents. I hear Clinton and Bush referred to as both President and former President. But I also hear Clinton & Bush AND Obama being referred to as Mr. That one always throws me for a loop.
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Old 03-27-2012, 11:24 PM   #11
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I generally don't use titles - too elitist.
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Old 03-28-2012, 01:10 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by patrickt View Post
I'm curious. I use titles for people who were once a judge, a president, a governor. President Clinton is no longer president but I believe he keeps the title. President Truman will always be a president.

This morning I was reading the news and saw, "Former Representative Jefferson...." The representative in question is in prison.

#hen does a judge become a former judge or a president become the former president? Is it strictly the users preference or is there some sort of rule to cover this?
If you are addressing the individual directly, in person or in a letter, you would use the title as a courtesy. If you're talking about the person, as in the news article, you'd indicate "former" initially. Most newspapers would then use only the last name, no title at all, for subsequent mentions.
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Old 03-28-2012, 02:27 AM   #13
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covers most circumstances...with good rules of thumb, like "once honorable, always honorable."
I can't think of a single politician or judge that has served in my lifetime to whom it would apply then.
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:21 AM   #14
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I suppose it's like the doctors. One doesn't stop referring to a retired doctor as Dr. XYZ.

Although I do suppose it's a bit different with doctors. A doctor can always give a valid professional opinion as long as he holds a license, even though he's retired from active service. Whereas Armymen and judges and presidents don't have the authority they had previously, once they're retired.
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:35 AM   #15
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In the UK, politicians don't have titles, so the question doesn't arise. When the British Prime Minister visits the US, it always sounds strange to us when the American media refers to him as "Prime Minister Cameron". He isn't "Prime Minister Cameron", he's just plain "Mr Cameron" whose job happens to be "Prime Minister".

As has been mentioned, certain professions do retain their titles even after they leave the job, eg "Doctor", "Professor".

High Court judges in the UK become "Lord" (or "Lady") such-and-such, and that title is for life. When they actually sit in court, they are referred to as "Lord Justice such-and-such", and I've never heard that title used for a retired judge.
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