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I was having a discussion with my fiancee about whether or not she was going to take my name when we get married. As of right now, the plan is that she will keep her current last name.

When asked if this will change before our wedding, I said "we will most likely stick with the status quo, and she'll keep her name."

A. Is it incorrect to use the term "status quo" to describe the current state of a micro-topic?

B. Does using it in that sentence conversely imply that that "status quo" is what is normal in society (which is for the female to take the last name), and thus the "status quo" is actually her taking my last name?


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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I agree with JLG: it is fine to use status quo in on less momentous occasions. There is a slight ironical shade in your calling your current names the "status quo", and that is no doubt how you intended it. I would say it.

Using status quo to mean "convention" is not the normal way of using it: I don't think there is any chance that people would mistake your intention for having your wife change her name. The status quo just means the current state of affairs in general, not a specific kind of thing like a convention unless so specified.

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Does your fiancee consider keeping her maiden name a micro-topic? :)

I would say status quo does get used for micro-topics all of the time, even though it probably should be reserved for political and social issues. It literally means the state in which. It is the existing condition or current state of affairs. So I would say, in your case, the status quo is that your fiancee has her maiden name. Sticking with the status quo means that she will keep her maiden name.

(Just don't ever say current status quo...it's redundant.)

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I've just up-voted your answer simply for the lead ("Does your fiancee..."). It's one of those things I wish I had thought of myself:)... But I have to add that I disagree with your admonition against "current status quo". Some people, say, might be discussing the similarities and differences in the status quo of fifty years ago and today, right? BTW, FWIW, I even remember a discussion somewhere pointing out that "consensus of opinion" is in fact not reduntant. –  Hexagon Tiling Apr 7 '12 at 8:58
@Hexagon Tiling: See grammarist.com/usage/status-quo Because status quo means current state of affairs, the phrase current status quo is redundant. The site gives examples of correct and incorrect use. –  JLG Apr 7 '12 at 13:47
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It's quite possible for the local ("micro") meaning of a term to be antonymous with its global ("macro") meaning. A couple good examples are warm beer and cold fusion. Americans drink their beer below room temperature, and so they say that the British, who drink their beer at room temperature drink "warm" beer. And the only way we yet have of doing hydrogen fusion remains, despite intense research dating before the birth of most members of this formum - Project Sherwood, by extremely elevated temperatures (delivered by way of atomic fission), and so the long-sought room-temperature accomplishment of this is called "cold" fusion. So, the global meaning of "room temperature" is contradicted in these two local instances. Thus, we can make the joke that it is possible that cold = warm! Indeed, I recall that in one of his poems Robert Frost makes exactly that kind of joke, namely, about a stream that "runs cold in the summer, and hot in the winter".

Therefore, to answer your question, while it is true that the status quo of your fiancee's decision to keep her family name is in conflict with the status quo that the vast majority of brides don't, it is not a problem. So, the answer to each of your questions, A and B, is "no".

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How does this answer the OP's questions? –  Armen Ծիրունյան Apr 7 '12 at 10:34
@ArmenTsirunyan: I've added a final paragraph to pin that down. –  Hexagon Tiling Apr 7 '12 at 13:04
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