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I really like to use the phrase "ladies and gentlemen" while teaching. The reason is not necessarily to be formal, but to gather the attention to a particular point.

For instance, I'd occasionally say "this algorithm, ladies and gentlemen, was only discovered 30 years ago" in order to stress the fact that although the algorithm I am mentioning seems very trivial, people were not able to discover such a way until 30 years ago.

I choose this phrase to occasionally address the students simply because I find it interesting as opposed to "guys" or "folks," both of which are daily language. Also, I came to a realization that these kind of phrases really stimulate the listeners to pay attention even if they lost concentration.

Considering that this phrase might be perceived as a generalization of a group of people, that is there are no non-binary people in the audience, I would like to replace it with a similar toned phrase. Are there any phrases that you know or heard, and think that sounds as cool?

I understand that the question seems off-topic. Please let me clarify. The reason that I am asking this question in Academia.SE is because the phrase I am using considers academic environment, not daily language or some arbitrary presentation. Thus, the potential replacement should be suitable for a classroom. This is why I find it more proper to ask the question here rather than a community where academics are not overwhelmingly populated.

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10 Answers 10

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My favorite podcast, Good Christian Fun, switched their intro from “ladies and gentlemen” to “friends and folks.” I think having an “and” in there helps with the rhythm, and feels better than “everybody.” If friends is weird in class you could try something like “students and scholars”? I realize these are all a little cheesy, but so is the original phrase, so it’s nice to maintain that tone.

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  • Some variants using "my": this algorithm, my friends, was only..., or my students. [I personally use the word 'friends' with care and reservation, but YMMV.]
    – Pablo H
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 16:54
  • 2
    I really like the phrase "friends and folks" to be honest! Thank you. I'll definitely give it a try.
    – padawan
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 18:42
  • @PabloH Indeed, "my friends" can be overdone.
    – nanoman
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 1:18
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    Pandits and Padawans! Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 4:06
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I just use the word everybody.

Hello everybody.

Or

This algorithm, everybody, was only discovered...

Suits all cultures, genders and is universal without offending.

(perhaps a question for English Usage SE really)

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    this seems like it misses the point of being attention-getting
    – Mike M
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 20:53
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    This answer will seem so outdated after the incorporeal artificial intelligences take over. :-P
    – James
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 19:36
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Actually, most such phrases are little more than a "clearing of the throat" and can be eliminated altogether. They introduce a pause, but little more.

Phrases like "by the way" or "as a matter of fact" or "as is well known" serve the same purpose.

If you really want to draw attention to a point, be more explicit. "It is important/interesting to remember/know/consider that...". This wakes them up a bit, hopefully.

But, "dear students" or similar might work in some cultures.

I once had a colleague who thought of herself as a sort of "mom" to her students and often interspersed "darlings" or "children" in such cases. It was just a personal quirk that worked for her, though it is hard to recommend.


The comic in me wants to suggest "slackers" or "you hiding in the back row", but it would be wrong ;-)

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    ‘Clearing of the throat’ toss-aways, in the hands of a professional at least, are effective rhetorical techniques to engage. Not to be dismissed without personal consideration. Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 3:07
  • Professional vs a belief that 'ladies and gentlemen' gathers attention to a particular point ...
    – mcalex
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 9:27
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Here are some ideas:

  • "Ladies and gentlemen and gentlepeople"
  • "Gentlefolk"
  • "Dear/esteemed students"
  • "All ye who attend my class"
  • "Friends and folks" or "Students and scholars" (as suggested by @Noah Snyder)
  • "People of any and all variety"
  • "Thou bunch of remarkable renegades"
  • "Esteemed chaotic villains and ne'er-do-wells"
  • "Those who are in possession of souls"
  • "My delightful crumpets"
  • "Academic appreciators"
  • "Distinguished personages"
  • "Kiddos"
  • "Buckaroos"
  • "Class-hoppers"
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  • 37
    Most of these are humorous, and could be used them at the start of a speech to break the ice, but if you used them in the middle of a sentence like "this algorithm, esteemed chaotic villains and ne'er-do-wells, was only discovered 30 years ago" would draw attention away from the point you're trying to emphasise; all of the listeners would either be laughing at the incongruity, or confused by it.
    – kaya3
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 8:12
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    If one wanted to go old-school, are the plurals "scolares", "dominae", and "magistrae" gendered? Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 16:50
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    @DanielHatton Latin has three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter), which are associated with gender (the personal characteristic)/animacy in a similar way to in many modern languages. Traditionally the masculine form is considered the 'default', and mixed groups are addressed with the masculine plural. I don't know if any group has adopted norms for inclusive gender-neutral Latin.
    – dbmag9
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 17:17
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    BTW, anywhere where UK English colloquialisms are commonplace, do not under any circumstances call your students "crumpet". Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 19:12
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    To grab attention, instead of "All ye who attend my class" I might go with "All ye who wish to pass".
    – Servaes
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 23:44
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Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

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    I come to bury my academic reputation, not to raise it.
    – Deepak
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 14:06
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You've said that you want emphasis. How about this?

This algorithm, was only discovered 30 years ago: now, why do you suppose that was?

Addendum: I had forgotten my Shakespeare: he solved the problem in the Prologue to Henry V.

this algorithm, gentles all, was only discovered 30 years ago

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This does not work as a 1-1 replacement for your term in all situations, but I start sentences that I want to emphasize with "Okay people, [...]" which serves a similar purpose.

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fellow human beings

fellow contestants in the game of life

fellow travelers on starship Earth

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A good answer can be 'Hello There' or 'Hello People'

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    General Kenobi! You are a bold one.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 18:01
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    This does not seem to fit the attion getting usage. Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 21:17
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    "this algorithm, hello there, was only discovered 30 years ago"
    – qwr
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 1:32
  • @qwr I think that could work if said in the right tone :P
    – marcelm
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 13:50
  • As this seems to cause some confusion: @qwr’s comment is aiming at the asker desiring to substitute ladies and gentlemen in a sentence like: “This algorithm, ladies and gentlemen, was only discovered 30 years ago.”
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 14:26
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I like the simple

Listen, All!

It gets attention, and includes, well, all.

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