Crossroads ~ What’s in a name?

By

Tim

In a landscape of “contentious issues” one that often comes up, and certainly springs to mind frequently, is the use of honorific titles amongst the real vampire culture. Unlike the terms, “reverend” or “doctor” which may well denote formal education and training in ecclesiastical or medical disciplines the terms Lord and Lady are frequently encountered online. Why so? Why do, and why can, real vampires around the world, in general, apply this title to themselves?

 

For those interested in the etymology of the words and their meanings here is some useful information, you may like to take whatever part of the definition best suits your particular view and apply it freely and liberally, however, don’t make the old mistake of expecting that everyone is going to agree with you.

Lord (noun)

1. a person who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief, or ruler.

2. a person who exercises authority from property rights; an owner of land, houses, etc.

3. a person who is a leader or has great influence in a chosen profession: the great lords of banking.

4. a feudal superior; the proprietor of a manor.

5. a titled nobleman or peer; a person whose ordinary appellation contains by courtesy the title Lord  or some higher title.

Origin:
before 900; Middle English lord, loverd, Old English hlāford, hlāfweard  literally, loaf-keeper. See loaf, ward

Dictionary.com

World English Dictionary

Lord (noun)

  1. a person who has power or authority over others, such as a monarch or master
  2. a male member of the nobility, esp in Britain
  3. Compare lady (in medieval Europe) a feudal superior, esp the master of a manor
  4. a husband considered as head of the household (archaic except in the facetious phrase lord and master )
  5. astrology  a planet having a dominating influence
  6. my lord  a respectful form of address used to a judge, bishop, or nobleman

[Old English hlāford  bread keeper; see loaf, ward ]

 

Lady (noun)

1. a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken: She may be poor and have little education, but she’s a real lady.

2. a woman of high social position or economic class: She was born a lady and found it hard to adjust to her reduced circumstances.

3. any woman; female (sometimes used in combination): the lady who answered the phone; a saleslady.

4. (Used in direct address: often offensive in the singular): Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Lady, out of my way, please.

5. wife: The ambassador and his lady arrived late.

Origin:
before 900; Middle English ladi ( e ), earlier lavedi, Old English hlǣfdīge, hlǣfdige,  perhaps orig. meaning “loaf-kneader,” equivalent to hlāf loaf  + -dīge, -dige,  variant of dǣge  kneader ( see dough;  compare Old Norse deigja  maid); see lord

Dictionary.com

Usage note
In the meanings “refined, polite woman” and “woman of high social position” the noun lady is the parallel of gentleman.  As forms of address, both nouns are used in the plural (Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your cooperation ), but only lady  occurs in the singular. Except in chivalrous, literary, or similar contexts (Lady, spurn me not), this singular is now usually perceived as rude or at least insensitive: Where do you want the new air conditioner, lady?

World English Dictionary

Lady (-n)

  1. a woman regarded as having the characteristics of a good family and high social position
  2. [a] a polite name for a woman [b] ( as modifier ): a lady doctor
  3. an informal name for wife
  4. lady of the house  the female head of the household
  5. history  Compare lord a woman with proprietary rights and authority, as over a manor

[Old English hlǣfdīge,  from hlāf  bread + dīge  kneader, related to dāh  dough]

 

As I have been told, we cannot always rely on dictionaries to provide us with commonly accepted or recognised meanings of words; the dictionary is literal and, as I have been told also, we are not always speaking literally in the sub-culture online. So what purpose can we reasonably assign to the terms Lord and Lady in screen-names?

 

The first, and most obvious reason, is to make the distinction between a female and a male where the real-life name is not used for reasons private to the person. Consider, if you will, the screen-name “Greywolf” or similar, what distinguishes whether the name applies to a female or a male? What is to indicate an appropriate level of manners, respect and appropriate subject matter in conversation?

Now consider the screen name “Lord Greywolf” ~ we immediately know that the owner of the name is male and therefore we are able to relate to that person on an appropriate basis, similarly if we consider “Lady Greywolf” we know to use acceptable forms of address and to employ appropriate subject material in conversations. Of course, what is considered “appropriate” is entirely subjective but when you don’t know someone well then taking liberties with your presentation is not advisable unless you want to be regarded as a boor and a “low-life”.

The second obvious reason is that, as we saw from the dictionary definitions, the term can be applied to, “a person who exercises authority from property rights; an owner of land, houses, etc.” and hence the term “Lord” might well be able to be adopted by the “owners” or “leader” of a vampiric house, either online or off. Thus it also follows that, as we saw, a female “head of household” can use the term “Lady” and not be judged wrong for doing so. In such groups, houses, covens or such there is, usually, a recognised ‘hierarchy’, it may not be rigidly enforced or policed, it may only be there by tacit approval, however there are still leaders and those ‘leaders’, I would suggest, have the right by popular consent to use such titles to denote their position in the group.

I think one of the reasons that there is still so much controversy over this matter is that such “titles” were once considered the province of LARPers or Role-players, in general, and almost exclusively but what it really comes down to is a person’s right, their inalienable right, to freedom of expression ~ a freedom guaranteed by constitutions the world over.

 

The key concept here is that in the context of usage no one is trying to imitate anything, no one who uses such titles is trying to denote “mastery” they simply choose to express themselves in their own way just as I choose to call myself Tim, it’s my right to be known by whatever name I choose ~ just as it is yours.

Freedom of Expression; it is a concept that is very dear to so many out there in cyber-vamp land. It is a concept that is argued over, and fought for tooth and nail, in many different ways, why then is it so difficult to accept the concept in ALL areas?

© RVN & Tim B. 2012

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4 thoughts on “Crossroads ~ What’s in a name?

  1. I’d like to point out that I started using the title “Lady” after I “became” a third degree Pagan within my Coven. Its quite common for Pagans to use their “titles” online, especially if they started out in Pagan groups 🙂 Your article missed the Pagan angle, so I thought I’d drop in and note it for you, lol.

    Once one becomes known by a particular moniker it can be difficult to change.

    Peace.
    CG

    • Thank you so much LadyCG for your reply and reminding our readers that there are still groups other than the ones we cited that use the titles Lord and Lady. We sincerely appreciate your taking the time to write.
      With warm regards …

    • I agree Lady CG; Lord and Lady have been used in the Pagan community forever esp for Higher level Priests and Priestesses. Well before the Vampire community ever existed…