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possessive with colonelle vs. colonel


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I am writing an English-speaking french male lieutenant who must address a female colonel of the US Army, but using the french idiomatic forms of the 19th century.

If she were a male colonel, I suppose that Mon Colonel would be used.

But none of my French-speaking acquaintances can say for sure whether Ma Colonelle is correct, or whether the ma would be used at all, much less Colonelle. The lieutenant in question is already taken aback by the very existence of a female officer.

The matter is complicated by the differing genders and the rank mismatch between addresser and addressee.

Thanks in advance for any offered insight!

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  • 4 months later...

Hello Atemp,

I cannot be sure of my answer but I can make a parallel with some other status we use in French. Actually, it seems that the Academie Française used to consider that wome works would be impossible to do for women, so that we do no need a feminine gender for them. For example, nobody uses the feminine version of "docteur". And when I was a child, we said "le maire" even if it was a woman. Now we say "Madame la maire". Anyway, I would say "mon colonel", like we say "Bonjour Docteur"....

I hope my answer helped you a little bit.

Have a good day!

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Thank you for the insight. It was explained by a contributor at the FR>EN forum at dict.cc that ma colonelle would be 19th-century French for a colonel's wife, not for a female military officer of that rank, which at the time would have been unheard of.

A similar situation occurs in 19th Century DE, wherein Medizinalräthin refers to a medical counselor's wife, not a female medical counselor.

Thanks again!

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