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sua eccellenza mary ann

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 29, 2008

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Prof. Mary Ann Glendon presented credentials at the Vatican today and got a gracious, and diplomatically pointed, welcome -- which you can read here. She's not the first woman to hold the post, of course, but I suspect she's more than usually aware of the paradox in being addressed as "Your Excellency" by the Pope.

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 01, 2008 10:19 AM ET USA

    KK: The -essa ending is being used less & less in Italian: a good thing because by now it sounds much like saying "woman professor" or "woman doctor" or "woman lawyer". It's quite "laic" I would say to give to the profession what is the profession's and to sex what is the sex's: and in fact it makes sense to distinguish between "genitore" and "genitrice", and that there is no "nutore", but just "nutrice". What I don't get is the paradox that Di is referring to.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 01, 2008 12:53 AM ET USA

    I notice that at the end of the Pope's remarks to Mary Ann Glendon, several biographical points about her are listed, in Italian. She is described twice as "Professore" rather than as "Professoressa," the term commonly used for a university teacher who is a woman. Can you explain this particular usage?