Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What's In a Title?

Some of the definitions given by Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary for the word “title” are: 1) An inscription; label, title, sign.  2) The union of all the elements which constitute ownership.  3) The instrument which is evidence of a right.  4) The distinctive designations of a written or printed production.  5) A descriptive name; an appellation.  6) An appellation of dignity, distinction or pre-eminence given to persons by virtue of rank, office, or privilege or as a mark of respect.  7) To call by a title; to name; designate.

Take a cruise through the chambers of social media to witness the insatiable thirst and taste, from the populace, when it comes to titles.  It would be difficult not to chuckle at titles such as: Highly favored and blessed, Honeycomb, Ever loving, Black beauty, June bug, Sweet pea, Chief, Handyman, and The Lord’s anointed, just to name a few.  In my mind, it is an opportunity for the users to let the world know who they are, want to be, or wish they were.  If push comes to shove a title could actually be commissioned as a resume.   Thanks to the wheel and deal of modern times as it rises to any occasion.   An individual can gain a title due to deportment.   Other times it goes according to work description or education.  Some people will inherit titles, whereas some will help themselves.  Most importantly, some people feel that they are entitled.  To be frank, title has lots of definitions but the one that lures my interest the most is the handle to people’s names.  This has become a fad and is no longer territorial or earmarked as it used to be a long time ago.  

Besides the craze of placing a handle to people’s names, it is important to point out that some people with legitimate titles would rather remain low-key about them.  They do not care an iota whether or not they are appropriately acknowledged.  Or, the fact that a title is seen as a source of power and that it can be used for personal gains.  On the other hand there are others who are cocky about titles.  Call them Boss Hog, Lady Miserable, or Captain Evil yet they would never lose a night’s rest over the disparaging combinations.  The important thing to them is that appendages of elevation accompany their names. The titles give them power to manipulate any situation.  According to my Grandmother, those types of people hold the handle of the knife whereas we the subordinates hold the blade.  In addition some individuals will make it known that they have worked hard to become a Doctor, Registered Nurse, Occupational Therapist, Manager, Director or President; therefore to be appropriately acknowledged would be an honor.   A married woman back in the day looked forward to the title, Mistress (Mrs).  She would find it repulsive if anyone other than her husband, close friend or family referred to her on a first-name basis.  God forbid if anyone should dare to address a cantankerous married woman as Miss.  The moment would be a sad one in history as she reprimands the individual with “yuh renk an dutty suh till yuh fly pass yuh nest” (impertinent).  To title a married woman as Mrs, regardless of color, strata or creed, is considered respectful and duly a very important handle to her name.

Handle to names has been lightly broached in this piece yet enough to point out the isms and schisms about it and give thought to headline, another definition of title.  Under careful scrutiny, handle and headline are often misleading.  What you see is not always what you get.  I draw reference to myself on the many occasions that I have formed opinions and made decisions just by reading the headline of an article.  The headlines surrounding party politics are the most notorious repeat offenders when it comes to deception.  As an example I have taken stock of the various headlines that are aimed to derail Hillary Clinton as she vies to become the President of the United States of America.  Although I have not studied the facts about her political stature, one thing I gather is that handles and headlines have the knack to build and destroy.

A handle to a name not only has the talent to destroy.  It is also the master of offensiveness.   The old adage, “bullfrog say what is joke to you, is death to me”, is relevant when individuals in their comical feat bestow handles such as Man thief, Big pum-pum, Long dick or Short cocky on others .  There is no glory in such handles, only embarrassment.  Choosing handles such as Queen, Prince, Princess, Sir or Madam is above par; more uplifting and positive whether or not we count the rightfulness or do it for fad or fun.

So, what’s in a title?  Well, if I was ordering a sandwich I would ask what ingredients it constitutes because of digestive maladies.  Asking the same about titles is important.  Hence, will it encompass fixings such as jaw dropping, provocative, comical, royal or virtuous? 

Tah-tah!  Titles should be worn well.  We are what we wear.

Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2015

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