What’s in a title?

Our last quiz asked a straightforward question: What does HPM stand for?

Regardless of how you answered, it’s obvious that you knew the answer. But “dungsamkota” was the first person to register it. He answered: “HPM = Honorable Prime Minister.” And for good measure he added: “HOL = Honorable Opposition Leader”. Well done!

Your answers were interesting … and thought provoking. Thank you for taking part.

But one of you, “Dodo”, who answered “HPM: Hon’ble Prime Minister. Can this be used formally?” seems to have read my mind! Is HPM a formal title?

In Bhutan, we respect our elders and defer to authority. So it’s quite common to address our leaders with elaborate honorifics to indicate that we have a good understanding of their social and official rank. For instance, we regularly hear our ministers being called: Mijay Lyonpo Rimpoche.

But these respectful salutations are not formal titles. And most newspapers generally don’t use them. To be sure, journalists have sometimes referred to our head of government as the “hon’ble prime minister” but rarely so. And never in its abbreviated from – “HPM” – which would seem to make the title formal.

So I was surprised to see a press release from the cabinet refer to the PM as “Hon’ble Prime Minister” and “HPM”. If the cabinet uses these titles, they must be official, no? No!

Incidentally, that same press release also tells us who Bhutan’s first lady is.