In a recent "Dear Abby" column, someone asked about how to address a letter of complaint to a company. She doesn't want to say "Dear Sirs" or "Dear Gentlemen," thus assuming they are men. "People" sounds silly to her (and to me!), and she thinks "To Whom it May Concern" sounds pompous. Abby likes the latter, though also suggests getting the specific name of someone.
I don't like "To Whom it May Concern," not because it is pompous, really, but because it is so impersonal. I sometimes say, "Dear Sir or Madame," but I don't like that either. What do you do?
Similarly, how do you close in a business letter? Do you say, "Yours truly" or Sincerely yours?" If not, what?
Wne writing a general letter to a company I always say "Dear Sirs" because that was the way I was taught and that's the convention here. I would address my letter along the lines of "The Train Company" and whatever their complaints department address is, then begin "Dear Sirs".
When writing to an individual in a company whose gender is not known, it would then be "The Station Manager", whatever station, "Dear Sir or Madam".
Neither, but it's different here than in the States. I first trained as a secretary in the mid 1960s and I was taught that if you write to a specific person and use their name, then you close the letter "Yours sincerely" and your own name and position. So it would run along the lines of "Dear Ms Smith" and finish "Yours sincerely, Jane Doe, Manager"
If you write a letter which begins "Dear Sir" (or its variations), then you close "Yours faithfully" instead of "sincerely".
I've done a lot of agency temp work since in a multitude of offices of all sizes and varieties and not much has changed since then.
Interesting, Di. I have never seen a letter signed "Yours faithfully." What on earth could the difference between "Yours faithfully" or "Yours sincerely" be? Why one word with a specific person, while the other for a generic letter? I don't get it.
I use "Dear Madam/Sir" for an unknown addressee, and also use the standard distinction of "Yours faithfully" for such a person, or "Yours sincerely" if you know their name. I don't know if this is now considered old-fashioned.
I don't know, but that was what I was taught and that convention is still in use (or it was when I was last at work just over two years ago).
I notice that when I used MS Word (until I disabled that function) that when I started to type "Yours", the auto-complete kept trying to finish it off with "truly" which we never use in the UK.
Why is it called a salutation when we are not wishing them health?
I find that nuances between the English and the Americans to be so interesting. We would never write, "Yours faithfully," and you wouldn't write, "Yours truly." Strange.
Asa, etymology.com says that it comes from Latin salutare, meaning "to greet." Why would we be wishing them health?
I've always preferred "I remain, as always, your most loyal and obedient servant, etc.,"
I've always preferred that too.
I described myself earlier as possibly old-fashioned, because a lot of business letters (sent out by the company I used to work for, at least) ended with something that isn't traditional. But I couldn't remember what. So I've now web-searched it (searching for "please don't hesitate to contact us", because that usually comes before it). It's "Regards". I'd never write that myself; the only casual variant I use is plain "Yours".
That was the convention in extremely formal official letters from such people as Civil Servants and lawyers until the late 1960s or so but, fortunately, such things have gone the way of quill pens and inkwells (back in 2001 when I was working as a Civil Servant, there was an article in our in-house newsletter that some workmen renovating a government office building in London had found a collection of quill pens, ink, parchment and other such stationery dating from around the 19th century in old boxes in a disused store room).
All the business letters I've typed have usually replaced this with slight variations on "If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me [us]", then "Yours" ("faithfully" or "sincerely"), then (after allowing several blank spaces for the signature) the person's name followed by their title.
If someone else is signing on their behalf, then the convention is to type their name, then PP (short for per procurationem which means "for and on behalf of) and the name and title of the person who would have signed.
It should look like this:
If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me [or us].
Yours ("faithfully" or "sincerely"),
Jim Smith, Deputy Sales Manager
PP John Smith
Some of the people I've typed for have still used "Regards". It's still common practice, though more a matter of individual preference than convention nowadays.
I always use Regards in my email signature when talking to customers (I work in tech support - don't all hiss at once!). Most of my colleagues use "Kind Regards" which always strikes me as rather over-familiar, not to mention downright untrue, a lot of the time...
If I'm writing letters, I stick to the Yours faithfully/sincerely rules.
If I am writing to a company about a general matter I write "Dear Sirs". But if I wish to write to an individual - especially if I am trying to sell my services - I will usually telephone and ask for the person's name.
"Dear Mr Jones" shows that I have taken the trouble to find out about the organisation; "Dear Sir or Madam" shows that I have not.
"Regards" does tend to be found in more informal correspondence, usually for letters which are addressed to someone whom the writer knows by their first name or (like you) at the bottom of emails.
Yes, I too have seen "Regards" or "With warm regards" used with less formal communication. I have also seen people using "Warmly" or "Affectionately" with less formal communication. Of course, there is always "Love" or "With love," too, with informal communication.
I had long assumed that salutation, salvation, salute, and salutory all derived, directly or indirectly, form Latin salus, salubris, meaning health, wholesomeness. I'm sure aput will correct me if I'm wrong! However, I did just look it up in Partridge, and he seems to agree with me.
I've always assumed that the Latin greeting salue and the accompanying verb, if literally translated, would mean 'Your good health' or something. It could count as a greeting.
I assume you are right, Cat.
Here is what etymology.com says about "salutation":
"1382, from O.Fr. salutacion, from L. salutationem (nom. salutatio), from salutatus, pp. of salutare "to greet" (see salute). As a word of greeting (eliptical for "I offer salutation") it is recorded from 1535."
I just looked it up in a dictionary and it states that it is dervied from the Latin stem salus health. So, my earlier assumption and Cat's seem to be well-founded.
Yay! Go us, Asa!
Cat, an Englishman on a newsgroup I frequent signs off with "Cheers and beers." I think that would be to the taste of a number of you! :-)
If I am writing to persons unknown, I use "Gentlefolk", without a Dear... I never use dear anymore unless it is to someone who truly is dear to me.
As for signing off, I use a variety depending on the situation. If I have asked for information or assistance, I will often write, "Thanking you in advance," (name). Sometimes if I have good feelings for the persons or company I will write Kindest Regards. When I am feeling particularly affected I will write, "I remain," (name). Most often, except with very familiar correspondence, I will simply sign my name. I refuse to use "yours" with anything, because I am my own and no one else's.