LONDON — The venerable Times of London bowed to the demands of a vulgar modern age on Tuesday, revising its Victorian-era style guide to include such brash and contemporary language as the title "Ms."
The 205-year-old newspaper--whose readers tend to regard its eccentricities as a national treasure on the order of Big Ben--introduced the usage changes in Tuesday's editions.
The guide, last revamped in the mid-1960s, was replete with arcane treasures such as singular spelling of Mikhail S. "Gorbachov." Its rendering of the Soviet leader's name was based on its transliteration of the Cyrillic letters.
"Our Russian specialists know that our spelling is better, but if the rest of the world spells it another way, ours looks very odd," said literary editor Philip Howard. "We're right, but we're wrong." So from now on, it's Gorbachev.
And there are changes in courtesy titles for both men and women. From now on, "Ms." will be automatically used in Times news columns for American women. For the rest of womanhood, it will be used only on special request.
The paper is under siege from more than modern usage. Circulation dropped to 434,389 in daily sales this spring, compared to 442,109 a year ago.
A new highbrow newspaper, The Independent, was started 3 1/2 years ago and is fast closing in on the London Times.