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Feel free to comment on these proposals below, without altering the text of the proposal and argument itself. — Ford

Honorifics and titles[edit]

After accuracy, neutrality is the encyclopedia’s highest standard. If a term is of disputed neutrality or accuracy, it should not be used without explanation or clarification.

Honorifics such as ‘Her Majesty’, ‘His Royal Highness’, and ‘His Holiness’ are English expressions with evident meaning and are used by supporters of the persons in question to express support or even reverence. These expressions are therefore not neutral. The argument that these are “just a style” does not address what a style is. In origin and common practice, a style is an honor bestowed selectively according to criteria that are not objective.

It is neutral to describe a style: “As the pope, John Paul II is officially styled ‘His Holiness’ by supporters and others in certain contexts.”. It is not neutral to employ a style: “The health of His Holiness Pope John Paul has been a concern.”. The first is a statement of fact. The second is a value judgement.

Those who claim that honorifics are meaningless and can neutrally be used are in fact providing evidence that they can simply be omitted. There is no need for an encyclopedia article to state something that is actually meaningless, since the purpose of the article is to inform. Abbreviations such as ‘HM’ or ‘HRH’ should be omitted by the same argument: either they are biased (and thus unacceptable to use), or they are meaningless (and thus pointless to use).

The encyclopedia cannot remain neutral if it adopts a policy of applying titles and honorifics regardless of what they mean or whom they are applied to. Self-identification cannot supersede the principle of neutrality. As an illustration, honorifics that are accepted when used for certain individuals may well be rejected when used for others.

Honorifics such as ‘Sir’ and ‘Saint’ are likewise not neutral. They represent a value judgement on that person, relative to all persons not so honored. In all cases, the person can be adequately identified without the honorific (for instance, Thomas More, Walter Raleigh, and John the Baptist), and in most cases the person is best known without the honorific (for instance, Paul McCartney). In context, it is appropriate to refer to such persons according to standard practice for all persons, namely ‘More’ or ‘McCartney’.

Titles that refer to offices can be used or not used according to editor preference. While it may be helpful to use such a title to clarify the referent, if the referent is clear there is no requirement to use the title. In the context of her own article, then, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom can be referred to as ‘the queen’ or ‘Elizabeth’ without confusion and without disrespect — ‘queen’ is her office and ‘Elizabeth’ is her name. Common practice avoids styles in most circumstances. Even supporters of the pope will generally just call him ‘the pope’, and calling him ‘John Paul’ is not deemed disrespectful — it is in fact consistent with homiletic practice.

In cases where the combination of personal name and family name (house name) may be confusing, such as ‘Elizabeth Windsor’, the preference should be for common usage: ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ or ‘Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom’. However, expressions like ‘Elizabeth Windsor’ are not disrespectful: again, the expression is her name, and ‘Mary Stuart’ and ‘Henry Tudor’ are considered appropriate references to historical figures.

In sum, it should become encyclopedia policy for all articles:

1. To describe, but not employ, styles and honorifics once, and only once, in the body of the article about the person, or of the article about the office.

2. To avoid the use of styles and honorifics in all other articles, using instead common names or objective titles that refer to offices.

The substantial deviation from this policy in articles on royalty and religious figures must eventually be amended on grounds of neutrality, regardless of how long the existing practice has been employed. Building support for a change will be a long process, but is necessary because current practice fails to meet the standards of objectivity and scholarly accuracy that the encyclopedia has set for itself.


  • I agree with this in almost every respect. It may be worth including the "Dear Leader" example as a further reason for omitting honorifics. In fact, more examples of acceptable vs unacceptable usage would be good. However, I don't object to "Sir". To my mind this is an honour but not an honorific, which I realise you'll find hopelessly inconsistent of me. I don't see Sir (or Dame) as representing a value judgement on that person, more like a trumped-up swimming certificate. It's a statement of fact about a person, like Queen or President, not a pointless/subjective prefix, like Her Majesty or His Excellency. For the same reason that I'm happy with Sir Bufton Tufton, I'm happy with Lord and Lady Bumfuzz (BTW you should mention the peerage in your proposal). In many cases (eg Lord Longford) that's the name by which they're most commonly known. Wikipedia has many pages with titles of the form Cornelius Montgomery Bighouse, Eighteenth Baron Throatclearance, and they're collectively one of Wikipedia's strengths, IMHO. -- Avaragado 23:47, 15 Jan 2005 (UTC)
    • I specifically avoided the ‘Dear Leader’ example because I am convinced that it is inaccurate — that is, it is commonly believed that Kim still uses that title (which he unquestionably did while Kim Il Sung was alive), when in fact he has since adopted his father’s title ‘Great Leader’, while allowing his dead father to retain the title ‘President’. (This sounds counterintuitive, and is against common perception, but that is part of the reason that I was persuaded by the journalist who reported this fact. Naturally I have no record or memory of who it was.) Elsewhere I have cited Saparmyrat Niyazov and Jim Jones as religious figures for whom stylistic respect would be objectionable to many. I agree that the beta version of this proposal should include the nobility. It is something of a middle ground between honorific and office. In feudal times the offices were genuine. At present they have limited weight — in Britain, for example, only in the House of Lords — and may soon have no weight at all. But few if any cases exist where the person cannot be adequately identified without the title. And Margaret Thatcher, to take a good example, should always just be Margaret Thatcher, or just Thatcher. I would extend the ‘Sir’/‘Saint’ argument to ‘Lord’/‘Lady’: mention it, don’t use it. The neutrality is disputable and it just isn’t necessary.
      Ford 00:27, 2005 Jan 16 (UTC)
  • I think the issue here is confused. "Her Royal Highness" is a style, much like "His Grace" with a duke or "His Serene Highness" with a sovereign duke or grand duke. But Elizabeth is the Queen, and as such is Queen Elizabeth II. To not call her the Queen of England (and other places) is not only heavily, heavily POV (as it implies the British monarchy does not exist or should not exist, and that republicanism is the only system which can exist), but also factually incorrect. Frankly, we settled the issues of naming about a year ago, when it was agreed that noble titles would always be used except in cases where people were better known without them (e.g. Bertrand Russell) or only ennobled in the last years of their lives (e.g. Francis Bacon, Margaret Thatcher). Mackensen (talk) 00:33, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
    • I am not suggesting that we deny that Elizabeth is the queen. I am suggesting that calling her by her name and by her title are equally acceptable and should be a matter of editorial preference. I have no idea how “to not call her the Queen of England” can be biased. There are many instances in her own article where she is not called ‘the Queen of England’, but rather just ‘Elizabeth’. As for this having been settled: (a) I disagree that agreement in the past is eternally binding, particularly when it was agreement between a limited number of editors and may violate the higher principle of neutrality, and (b) I am posting this proposal in hopes of showing that there are numerous editors who disagree that the policy is or should be settled in its present state. The encyclopedia is anything but static.
      Ford 00:54, 2005 Jan 16 (UTC)
    • Frankly, we settled the issues of naming about a year ago - When this issue arose on Talk:December 2004 in Britain and Ireland I tried to find an established policy but failed. Is it recorded anywhere? -- Avaragado 19:51, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • I think the proposal is cogent and correct. Common usage, position, and avoiding honorifics that are not common usage or somebody's "job" should be the rule. - Trick 02:36, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • I think this proposal is both good and proper. I am not entirely sure if "Sir" should be omitted though; it IS a title, much like General or Duke, and there are rules for how you get the title "sir". Otherwise though I totally agree - Her Majesty, His Holiness, ect. not only is somewhat PoV (arguably), but also very few people refer to them that way normally. President, Queen, Lord, Duke, Prime Minister, (and possibly Sir) are titles; Her Majesty, His Holiness, Great Leader, ect. are not, they're honorifics. Moreover, people don't refer to dead popes as "His Holiness" - at least, I've never heard someone refer to a dead pope that way. However, they will still call them "Pope", just as dead presidents are called "President" and dead royalty "King", "Queen", "Prince", "Princess", ect. Titanium Dragon 07:03, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • I strongly agree with this proposal, in general. There are many reasons for avoiding honorifics and styles in referring to persons. 1) They are obscure. QEII has many styles- "Her Britannic Majesty," etc. OK, So everybody knows that a Duke is styled "His Grace," but who can remember the style for Viscount? 2) They really apply only to subjects and adherents. I'll admit that I haven't researched this, but I doubt that the Irish Government refers to QEII as "Her Majesty." Does the Russian Foreign Ministry address JPII as "His Holiness?" 3) Don't they apply only to living individuals? I've been meaning to look this up, but I haven't had time. Do they apply to former office holders as well? (i.e. it is customary to address someone by the highest title they have achieved. Thus, someone can be called "Judge" or "Colonel" long after they've given up those roles. But would the retired Judge sitll be "The Right Honorable"? 4) If we applied honorifics to every individual who earned them, WP would be overwhelmed. What about Masons and Klu Klux Klan members - don't they have styles and honorifics too? OTOH, I agree with some editors about titles. I believe that formal titles should be used. "Queen Elizabeth", "President for Life Duvall", "Sir John", "Reichsfuhrer Hitler", are all appropriate and clear. Thanks for putting this together. Cheers, -Willmcw 10:02, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
    • There seems to be confusion as to which phrases are honorifics and which are titles. Unless the distinction can be made clear, any policy on the use of honorifics cannot succeed. -Willmcw 01:16, 19 Jan 2005 (UTC)
      • The words ‘honorific’ and ‘title’, as I suggest below to Proteus, should not be the subject of our discussion. We are talking about labels (however we call them) attached to a person’s name (or used in its place) to indicate some status; the distinction that most seem comfortable with is between labels that refer to an office or function (which most accept) and labels that do not (which some of us reject). The latter labels are all honorary, whether we call them ‘honorifics’ or ‘titles’. So I would rephrase your point: there seems to be some confusion as to which phrases refer to offices and functions, and which do not.
        Ford 22:30, 2005 Jan 23 (UTC)
  • I believe Styles and Honorifics should always be used in the following circumstances:
      • In the opening title of an article to signify the title/name of the person in question
      • In certain cases in some articles eg in the Deaths section of years/date type pages
    • The main reasons/benefits
      • It signifies the office of the person in question thus giving better identification to the reader. For example HRH The Duke of Kent signifies that the Duke is a member of the Royal Family.
      • It does not violate neutrality, as the titles/honours are usually given by law, or by tradition. For example in Germany, German law allows the usage of titles and styles held by members of the former royal houses of Germany.
      • They are commonly used, especially in formal publications. Using the examples above, the Irish government will refer to QEII as Her Majesty, as does every government that recognises the United Kingdom. Similarly, the UK govt will honour the use of foreign honorifics.
    • Some problems
      • Religious honofirics such as His Holiness etc are perhaps more disputable than say His Royal Highness. Although a republican can deny the right of a royal to hold office etc, they cannot deny that they are royal to begin with.
      • Using full titles in all mentions of an individual can be tedious and may be error prone if used by people with lack of knowledge (therefore use as above) Astrotrain 15:48, Jan 17, 2005 (UTC)
        • That governments refer to royalty by their full titles is just diplomacy. The governments definitely aren't neutral parties, so they aren't suitable for NPOV-related evidence. I want to know about the average respectable non-British newspaper, for instance. Does the New York Times refer to Elizabeth as Her Majesty or whatever? --Simetrical 23:50, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)
        • The New York Times does not use ‘Her Majesty’. In fact, even the BBC rarely uses it. It appears on the BBC website almost exclusively in quotations and names.
          Ford 12:55, 2005 Jan 18 (UTC)
  • I do not advocate the use of honorifics in every instance, just in the main title of the person's article, and in deaths/birth sections of the date pages. Papers for instance will say The Queen, Queen Elizabeth II in their main articles, but would use HM The Queen or HM Queen Elizabeth II in formal instances such as their obituary pages, or a profile. I think a distinction should be made between the arguments for using them for British royality, who's styles and titles are granted expressly by law/tradition, and religious persons who's styles are more disputable. Astrotrain 13:28, Jan 18, 2005 (UTC)
    • Actually, Astrotrain, in the past you have attempted to insert honorifics in the main text of 2004 as well as in the births and deaths section; and in any case, I fail to see any reason for the distinction. But I am glad to have you admit to this limitation at least. Your belief that law and tradition give greater weight to British royal honorifics than religious honorifics is impossible to sustain, unless we all recognize the authority of British law and tradition and nothing else.
      Ford 13:44, 2005 Jan 18 (UTC)
  • I am not saying that you are legally obliged to use any particular style. But to elloude from the legal position to one's own perception is what is not neutral. For instance to say Prince Michael of Kent or HRH Prince Michael of Kent is fine and neutral, but to say Michael Windsor is wrong, and not neutral, as this is the Prince's name. By saying HRH you acknoweldge his legal right to that title, you are not condoning or endorsing it, or becoming the Prince's supporter. Of course it is common to use less formal language in some situations meaning the omission of the HRH is fine. However for his article, it is essential to say His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent because that is the legal title of the subject of the article. Astrotrain 15:30, Jan 18, 2005 (UTC)
  • There are three main points I would like to make:
    • An article about a person should be about that person and not just about the office or a position they hold. Most people who have special honorific titles were not born with them. "His holiness John Paul II was born..." or "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was born..." is factually incorrect. If an office a person is holding brings with it a special honorific, it should be discussed on the article about that office.
    • If we want our naming conventions to be NPOV, they must apply equally to all people. Many people have or had honorific titles that we don't and clearly should not use ("Dear Leader" being just the most often mentioned).
    • Honorifics are typically used when addressing people politely or talking about them politely. In that respect, they have the same function as "Mister", "Mademoiselle", "Doctor", "Reverend", etc. In most cultures, it's impolite to talk publically about people without using those simple honorifics, but we don't and shouldn't include them.
I'm not saying that we should pretend that honorifics don't exist. For people who have special honorifics, we should definitely mention them in the article (keeping in mind that Wikipedia is not a style guide), just not treat them as parts of people's names. Zocky 12:02, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Of those who are generally supportive so far (I certainly knew Astrotrain’s position all too well), there is broad agreement that ‘Her Majesty’ is out of bounds, but ‘queen’ is acceptable. That seems to be based on the reasoning that ‘queen’ is an office, a function, while ‘Her Majesty’ is a disputable label that adds nothing (Astrotrain’s arguments notwithstanding). More problematic for most, though, are cases like ‘Lord’/‘Lady’ and ‘Sir’/‘Dame’. I am going to make another attempt to be persuasive on those points, because consistency in the policy demands it. If we are to emerge from this discussion with a position that can eventually persuade other editors to drop honorifics as a violation of the neutrality policy, we must have a coherent position.
    In medieval times, where dukes and earls had genuine political authority, or in reference to the British House of Lords, which has legislative and judicial powers, being a lord was or is equivalent to holding an office or serving a function, and the title can be mentioned or not mentioned according to editorial preference (for comparison, ‘John Kerry’, ‘Senator John Kerry’, ‘Senator Kerry’, ‘Kerry’, and ‘the senator’ are all equally acceptable). But modern hereditary lords and ladies who have no vote in the House of Lords (soon to be all of them) therefore hold no office, and have no function. They do not have any political jurisdiction. Their titles are strictly honorary. The same holds for knights and dames. The British social system, sanctioned by the British government, has singled these persons out for an honor (whether by political choice or heredity is beside the point), and said that there is something special about them. But they do not do anything; they have no function. It is not an office, then. And as I said before, it does not in any way help us to identify them. As Simetrical correctly points out, governments are not neutral, and as many have suggested we would not want to be bound to follow the styles dictated by, say, the North Korean government. Similarly, the idea that heredity makes certain persons special is not neutral — it has been largely discredited as a fact, and remains a custom only in certain places.
    I would be interested in hearing from someone who is generally supportive [of the policy above] as to why a title that relates to no actual function but instead to the belief of a government or organization that a person holds special status should be used, rather than simply described.
    Ford 14:23, 2005 Jan 21 (UTC)
    • Since LegolasGreenleaf, writing below, misunderstood the expression ‘someone who is generally supportive’, let me clarify that at the moment I am looking for a response from someone who, like me, opposes the use of honorifics, but, unlike me, believes that ‘Lord’ and ‘Sir’ are acceptably neutral. I already know that Astrotrain and Mackensen, who support honorifics, will likewise support ‘Lord’ and ‘Sir’. I am trying to understand why Avaragado, Willmcw, and Titanium Dragon, who oppose honorifics, would nonetheless support ‘Lord’ and ‘Sir’, which to me are just more honorifics. I have clarified my earlier post with the bracketed comment.
      Ford 21:56, 2005 Jan 21 (UTC)
      • You're implying that a distinction exists when it's not as clear cut as that. For instance, one use of "Lord" in the British titles system is that it is placed before the Christian name of the younger son of a duke or a marquess (the two highest ranks in the Peerage). The most famous holder of this particular title is John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, who was known for much of his career as "Lord John Russell" (and his article would be there if he hadn't been given an earldom later on) He's practically unrecognisable without the title (ask any British person who "John Russell" was and they would probably give you a blank look, whereas say "Lord John Russell" and they'd say "oh, right, the Prime Minister"), and it would be very unhelpful to readers not to call him that. On the other hand, younger sons of earls (the next rank down) have the words "The Honourable" before their names. Under your reasoning, the former is a title and the latter is an honorific, but they are essentially exactly the same thing - words placed before people's names because their fathers are peers. Why is is acceptable to use "Lord" for Lord John Russell but to use "The Honourable" for another person is unacceptable? If (as you claim) "The Honourable" implies that someone is honourable, does calling Russell "Lord John Russell" imply that he is "lordly"? And if it does, is calling someone "The Earl of Carlisle" acceptable (because we can all agree that he is actually the Earl of Carlisle) while using the shortened and usual form of his title and calling him "Lord Carlisle" is unacceptable? Having said all this, I do agree with you to a certain extent, in that I think using styles actually in the text of an article is inappropriate. We shouldn't be writing things like "President Bush met The Right Honourable Tony Blair yesterday", and neither should we be saying "Her Majesty The Queen of the United Kingdom announced this today", because it's not normal usage and it's cumbersome and takes up too much space, but I can't accept that simply putting someone's style before their name at the beginning of their own article is POV. If someone thinks that it's unclear why it's there, a simple link to the honorific's article can soon enlighten them (see Tony Blair, for instance, where the opening The Right Honourable is linked). Proteus (Talk) 22:16, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)
        • I am confused. You cite two examples of honorifics for the sons of peers, and suggest that I would find one of them acceptable. Not at all. ‘Lord’ in ‘Lord John Russell’ does not refer to an office or function, thus it is strictly honorary, thus I would drop it. My apologies, but I find it hard to believe that Britons have that much difficulty recognizing ‘John Russell’ as the former prime minister more commonly known as ‘Lord John Russell’, particularly when most mentions of his name in history will be in the context of his political career. But even if so, there is always a link to his article to clarify that. Readers can find the article by redirect if necessary (and a good thing, too, since his article goes under a name that, according to you, is unrecognizable). As for other sources for your perception of my inconsistency, I never said that I thought ‘duke’ or ‘earl’ was generally acceptable, since dukes and earls do not have political authority outside the House of Lords, and most of them not even there. It is not I who draws a distinction between ‘title’ and ‘honorific’. ‘Honorific’ is equivalent to ‘honorary title’. And just because I agree that, by definition, GWB Howard is the earl of Carlisle, does not mean I think it notable or neutral to mention. Howard does not even have an article, nor do eight of his twelve recent predecessors. It cannot be a position of any significance, then, and while it would be factual to mention it in his article, if he ever gets one, to refer to him as the earl of Carlisle is no more sensible than referring to Yasser Arafat as the son of a textile merchant. True, but not useful.
          Ford 22:10, 2005 Jan 23 (UTC)
  • at your request...but i didn't plan on writing this much...and since you were looking for someone who supports the use of honorifics, i guess this is the contrary.
To add my two cents:
As an average citizen of a Common Wealth country, I have not observed the use of any honorifics in local or national media to anywhere close to the extent that i have seen on some pages of wikipedia. While this might be explained by the diversity of the Wiki community, howeve the country I am from is known for its multiculturalism.
I believe that the use of honorifics is legitimate and necessary only to a certain extent. When the subject is a worldwide audience who will not be familiar with the particular local system the honorific is bound to, the honorific will hold no significance what-so-ever.
here in this context we are generally referring to the European Monarchs, who, in reality, does hold NO power at all, even in their host countries. Why bother 'honor' something when it's in fact, vanity?
about some of the titles, such as the 'Sir' in Sir Elton John. I believe this may pass as legitimate to be included in most places where the name of the person that appears, as afterall, being 'Knighted' is an acknowledgement to achievement. "Pope", if used alone in front of a name, should be legit as a Pope is supposed to be a leader kind of person within a religion, and this title is actually recognized around the world.
"President", "Premier", "Prime Minister", these political titles should be used as they will distinguish their role in the government, as they are important people. "Queen" or "King", while calling them simply by their name will be rude, as they are people of higher social status, and in many developing countries, they are the equivalent of a President or a Prime Minister.
other titles, like "Her Majesty", "His holiness" or "dear leader blah blah blah", they should not be used. There are not proper titles.
  • The Queen of England CANNOT type faster than the average female today; NOR can she talk in different languages from different continents; NOR can she scale the height of mount everest; She is not majestic, even if she is the head of the royal family (i do understand that "her majesty" doesn't actually mean she's supposed to be majestic, only because her position is very high).
  • The Dalai Lama, whichever generation he might be, is still HUMAN, he CANNOT BE HOLY. If he was, then you'd be worshipping Pope John Paul rather than God.
  • As to the "dear Leader".... this one is too obvious, as it's entirely propaganda for brain washing their unfortunate countrymen into blindly following a dicator.
To wrap it up, I think that common sense should be the guide in whether or not to add an honorific or a title. When we say "Sir" or "President" or "Queen", it is legit and everybody would know and acknowledge that fact. Honorifics like "HRH" does not mean anything to the vast majority of people outside the royal circles. LG-犬夜叉 21:08, Jan 21, 2005 (UTC)
  • It seems only sensible to start a biographical article with someone's full name and style. This is a completely neutral stance - and to adopt anything else seems perverse and just a way to open up further revert wars as to what sort of name Wikipedia should "prefer". Ford's alternative is strange: we would not wish to say "George W Bush is styled by some as President of the United States". Also by adopting a policy of not opening with someone's style we are left with a choice: either to omit the information entirely (and removing information from an encyclopaedia is not a good policy to have), or to draw undue attention to it by saying "X is styled as XXXX" later in the article. The other objection is that the custom of starting a biographical article with a full name has grown from the grassroots - a small band of Wikipedians should not set out to overturn the custom adopted by a majority, jguk 21:41, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)
    • Just to clarify things. What's being proposed is closer to "George Bush (born ...) is the President of the United states." and "Elizabeth II (born...) is the Queen of England. She is styled Her Majesty" than to your example. Zocky 22:37, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)
      • Zocky is completely correct. And I would add that it is surprising that anyone who sincerely did not want to draw “undue attention” to an honorific would think it best to make it the very first item in an article.
        Ford 23:17, 2005 Jan 23 (UTC)
  • Essentially, I agree with jguk. (One thing I'd like to add: Ford keeps repeating in these discussions the assertion that honorifics can be "value judgements", which is utterly absurd. To suggest that calling someone "His Holiness Pope John Paul II" is saying "John Paul II is the Pope and is holy" is just laughable. Perhaps it's because styles are hardly used where he lives and so he's not familiar with what they are or what they signify, but this misconception is hardly an ideal starting point for a policy on the matter.) Proteus (Talk) 21:58, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)
    • Absurdity and laughability are charges that can go both ways; I, for instance, consider that calling someone by a title whose meaning is transparent to all anglophones and then claiming it to be meaningless is itself absurd. I think I have a fairly solid grasp of what honorifics are and what they signify. And as for my personal experience limiting my perspective, to the contrary: I was raised Roman Catholic and can attest that the Catholics I knew growing up, conservative and liberal alike, did not call the pope ‘His Holiness’. They just called him ‘the pope’, and sometimes even (scandal!) ‘John Paul’.
      Ford 23:17, 2005 Jan 23 (UTC)
  • I think it is important to state, in response to allegations Jguk has made elsewhere, that anyone is free to comment here. The reason Astrotrain, Jguk, and Proteus were not specifically invited to comment here is because I already know how they feel about honorifics. I do not need to be further reminded. Jguk is in one camp. I am in another. Jguk believes that using honorifics is neutral. I do not. Jguk believes that the use of honorifics is a settled policy. I believe that Wikipedia is constantly evolving. Jguk believes that a majority of editors support the use of honorifics. I believe it is merely an aggressive minority. Jguk would like to dismiss editors who are opposed to current practice. I am trying, by posting this proposal in my user space, to find out whether there might be anyone who supports a change in practice, and to what extent. We are not throwing ourselves a party here; we are having a discussion. If that discussion concludes satisfactorily, we will still just be, as Jguk says, a small band of Wikipedians. Nothing we do here will determine encyclopedia policy, and Jguk and the small band of Wikipedians associated with Jguk are already getting their way in the encyclopedia. I cannot imagine why it is so important for them to disrupt this process and have their way here, too.
    Ford 22:42, 2005 Jan 21 (UTC)
  • I think it's interesting to note that so many basically NPOV publications are largely united on this issue: they don't use titles like "Her Majesty", but they do use "Sir" and "Lord" (at least for the first mention). For instance, the American Heritage Dictionary, Webster's, and the World Book all call Newton "Sir Isaac Newton". The New York Times and the BBC also seem to use "Sir". None of them uses "Her Majesty". I invite everyone else to post other publications' stances—from what I've seen, across a wide band of publication types, the trend seems to be pretty much universal.
    The connotations of words are formed by their usage; if certain titles are used constantly by neutral publications, the titles themselves become viewed as neutral. If they are generally used only by royalists, they suggest to the reader that the author is a royalist. The neutrality is in people's perception, not inherent in the titles themselves—and this is where I disagree with Ford. Ford considers that the bias in the titles is that they suggest majesty or highness or excellence or the like. But the titles have become divorced from their roots: if I call Elizabeth "Her Majesty", readers don't think "Oh, Simetrical thinks that Elizabeth is majestic." They think "Simetrical is a royalist." Therefore, it behooves Wikipedia to avoid that title, because it wishes to be viewed as neutral, and not royalist. For the same reason, it is acceptable and perhaps even desirable for Wikipedia to use titles such as "Sir", because those are viewed as neutral formalities, appropriate in something that strives to be neutral and formal.
    Of course, even if you agree with my reasoning, you may think that "Her Majesty" is, in fact, viewed as neutral by the population at large. For this I would use the standard of looking at the usage of formal publications that we can expect to be basically neutral to the issue, since if such usage follows a clear trend, then all such publications will be consciously or unconsciously expected to follow the trend—deviation will look unprofessional. The standard here is clear. —Simetrical 23:05, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • I basically agree that honorifics are inherently POV. I think that titles that show a role (such as Queen and President) are, howeverm NPOV. Therefore, I suggest that this be the way to do it:
Queen Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary) (born 21 April 1926), officially styled HM The Queen, is the Queen regnant and ...
I think this is an NPOV and acceptable way to do it. Smoddy (Rabbit and pork) 15:35, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Just a small note of support for the proposal. In the same way that we specifiy the fictional status of articles on fictional topics in the first sentence, we should specifiy the offical stylings for those who have them in seperate sentances, rather than assuming them by including them in the name of the person. How many Wikipedias would need to be supporing this proposal before we were larger than "a small band of Wikipedians"? JesseW 22:07, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)