In one of our previous posts Ingrid Tieken wrote about her analysis of commonly used email sign-offs she found while going through her inbox. (To find out more about the differences she found between American, British and non-native email authors, go here).
Relating to this topic I have recently come across a very entertaining episode of the PRI’s The World in Words podcast in which Alina Simone compares the insecurity many of us feel just before we decide on a suitable email sign-off to the teenage insecurities of longing to fit in and the fear of making a faux pas.
Alina explains the lengths she goes to in order to accommodate to the email recipient, changing her sign-offs depending on whether she is writing to her Russian friends, her colleagues or to the fans of the acclaimed Danish television series Borgen.
This definitely seems like a lot of effort for someone like myself whose variety possibly includes two standard sign-offs ranging from the casual Cheers! to the professional, but not overly formal Best wishes. If you would like to make matters even more complicated, just google ‘email sign-offs’, and you will soon get impressive lists of 57 or more different options ranging from the somewhat try-hard High five from down low to the amusing Sent from a prehistoric stone tablet.
What Alina goes on to discuss in more detail is the search for individualised sign-offs, unique phrases that tell you something about the personality and the interests of the authors themselves. To find out more about her story, listen to the episode here.
Finally, what I found intriguing was the discussion on the word Cheers! when used by Americans, which is addressed both by Alina and Patrick Cox, the host of the podcast.
Patrick feels that Cheers! should be off-limits for speakers of American English, especially when they are politely trying to accommodate to the British English speakers in the US. The seemingly welcoming code-switching and the act of adopting British vocabulary, Patrick claims, reminds him of being an outsider.
Who knew that formulating a simple greeting could be this complex? What are your thoughts on British and American sign-off differences? Do you have an individualised sign-off or any that make your list of pet peeves? Leave your comments below.