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The government of France, famous for its centralized authority over issues as detailed as school lesson schedules, recently issued a landmark language decision. No longer will public administrators employ the term “Mademoiselle” in official correspondence.

The three-century-plus-old distinction between an unmarried and a married woman is considered passé by many feminists.

The closest American equivalent is the dilemma over whether to use the term “Ms” as a salutation.

The U.S. government, famous for its hodgepodge of inconsistent practices, leaves such decisions to each agency or individual, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

 

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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