The government of France will no longer employ the term ‘mademoiselle’ in official government work or documents, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced today. Feminists in France have long pushed for the term to be dropped from official use, and going forward only the honorific Madam will be used with respect to women. Similarly, German dropped the use of Fräulein by an official decree by the Ministry of the Interior in 1972, and have since similarly employed the term Frau for all women.
I don’t really have an opinion on it, but there does seem to be a growing trend in many languages that is striving for a less gendered language. Case in point: Ms. It’s delightfully ambiguous, and I’ve never really been sure as to how precisely to employ the term. Perhaps its ambiguity is its point, so I’m likely to just shout out either ‘Ma’am!’ or ‘Hey you!’ to unsuspecting passersby. Take your pick.