Plato Kasserman (zenokarasu) wrote in little_details,
Plato Kasserman
zenokarasu
little_details

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usages of "Master"

I've run into an unexpected snag in one of my stories. I have a university astronomy lecturer who ends up becoming a navigator on a small ship. The setting is a fanciful parody of western Europe during the Age of Exploration. My problem has to do with honorifics.

I had initially planned to have the lecturer address each of his young pupils as "Master [family name]" (that being the--now archaic according to Merriam-Webster--title given to boys too young to be called Mister).

However, I quickly learned that "Master" is also the title given to male teachers and navigators on sailing vessels (the academic usage dates back to the 1380s according to etymonline.com). Now I'm not sure how my lecturer should be expected to address his pupils. I'll bet this has an easy answer, but I'm just not finding it. During what era was "Master" [originally] used as an honorific for young, unwed males? Did it overlap with the teacher usage and, if so, how was that not confusing?

[slightly edited entry for clarity, but did not remove any text]
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  • 23 comments

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    I'm so glad I discovered this community. I have maybe a broader question than can easily be answered here, but any finger points in the right…

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