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Salutations and closings in the digital age


In emails and letters, we address a lot of people who are not dear to us as

On this weekend’s edition of That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller talks with University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan about greetings and closings used in the age of the email.

The use of "dear" has been the default salutation, going back to the 17th century, when it became the polite form for letters as in "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam," says Curzan, but there are less formal salutations by using words such as ‘hi’ to open an email or letter.

As is the case with salutations and greetings, closing an email depends on whether one prefers to do so formally or informally. Using "sincerely" or "best regards" signifies formal ways to close, while "take care" or "thanks" are often used to informally sign off on an email.

How do you address recipients in an email or a letter? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Anne Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.
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