[ExI] Ms. vs. Dr.

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Tue Jul 28 10:50:00 UTC 2009

On Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 2:07 AM, Damien Broderick<thespike at satx.rr.com> wrote:
> Yes, it's endlessly tricky. The only close friend I have with a doctorate
> has two, but he's rarely addressed as "Doctor Doctor." :)

This would be so German... :-)

> My wife has more degrees than I do, including a Juris Doctorate, but
> apparently USians don't regard that as worthy of the "Doctor" appellation.
> In Australia, medical practitioners with just bachelor degrees in medicine
> and surgery have long been accorded the courtesy title "Dr." as are,
> increasingly, dentists, and even vets (or is that just in the US?), not to
> mention chiropractors.

While not so extremely strategic for the destiny of the human kind, I
have always found the subject funny. In fact, England/US, Germany and
France share in general the bachelor/Lizenz/icence,
master/maitre/magister, doctor/doctor/Doktor.

In Italy, however, we have always had a longer high school and longer
university courses, so that anybody completing the latter would
automatically be a "doctor" and prefix its name with "Dott." or "Dr."
(a research doctorate being an altogether different concept).

OTOH, at a point in time "master courses", especially LLM and MBA,
have become fashionable as postgraduate courses, during in average one
year, with the paradoxical consequence that you here become a doctor
first and possibly a "master" later.

This has a funny equivalent for American jurists, since in the US law
school has always been a postgraduate course, so that even though once
upon a time they were awarding LLB degrees, this became entirely
outfashioned, JD sounding so much better. At the same time,
specialised LLM courses do exist in the US for those who have already
completed law schoold (most often in the area of tax or environmental
law), and thus US lawyers also become masters once they are already
doctors. I even hear that there are universities now granting "LLD" or
"Ph.D. in Law" degrees, to distinguish them from mere JDs, but this is

And, yes, also in Italy the fact of using "doctor", especially when
you do not mention the name of the person addressed, often implies
that one is a practising physician . But I understand that bachelor or
master degrees in medicine do not exist anywhere...

The last thing is that Italian lawyers simply *hate* being ever
called, say, Dr. Vaj, because it reminds them of the time when they
were undergoing the period when they were undergoing statutory
training in a law firm before being allowed to sit in the Bar exam, a
very frustrating time in one's life where being called "Dr. Vaj"
rather than "Avv. Vaj" (Avv. is the prefix for avvocato, advocate) was
an unpleasant reminder of one's not being fully admitted yet, and thus
a kind of contemptible lowlife/serf in the glorious legal community of
your city.

Stefano Vaj

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