Ladies and Gentlemen…

In a post elsewhere, reference was made to this trope page, and the generic problem of saying “ladies and gentlemen” when addressing a group of people which may include those who deem themselves members of neither category. This, of course, is a problem which my universe had to solve a long, long time ago, given the presence of large numbers of people who are neither of those genders right down to the chromosome-equivalents – for values of solve equal to “didn’t give itself this problem before it occurred”, at least – and since it came up, I found myself writing a quick paragraph on what people do say by way of collective address:

Namely, this:

Well, with six grammatical genders – not counting the default of “not specified” – mapping to an arbitrarily large set of the non-grammatical kind, it would get… rather messy if one had to name ’em all, wot?

As Amy says, the general term there is daryteir , glossed “gentlesoph” from its literal translation of “sophont of honor”, darav i-teir , and possesses no gender affices at all. In opening collective addresses, since the pluralization lies entirely in the article-equivalents, one would probably go with elen daryteir – “gentlesophs all” – if being polite, or if less convinced of the decent-chapness of one’s audience, simply elen darav – “sophonts!”. ( Darav , incidentally, is a word which I usually gloss as “sophont” but which I could equally well gloss as – and is used in the equivalent contexts as – “person”, so “people!” .) One might also hear elen valmirian , which would be “citizens!” . Well, “citizen-shareholders”, technically, but that’s a lengthy construction in English.

(If one really wanted to say “ladies and gentlemen”, one could always say elen daravion ap elen daraviel , but that would just leave your audience wondering why you were deliberately excluding the herms, neuters, and prenuptial and postnuptial catalysts…)