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Thread: Dear Sirs

  1. #1
    JChevais Guest

    Default Dear Sirs

    I work in a corporate atmosphere in France and sent a group email to a bunch of people including two women.

    The email started with "Dear Sirs". This annoyed one of the women, who happens to be English.

    I'm afraid that I may have assimilated too much French, though the email was in English, and can no longer remember what would have been more appropriate. Personally, though I'm told that "Dear Sirs" is considered sexist, I cannot understand why.

    Anyway, my point is that I don't know how I should have started the email.

    "Dear Sirs and Madams" sounds awful.

    "Ladies and Gentlemen" seems trite. It sounds as though I'm announcing a stage show.

    What would have been more appropriate?

    Many thanks

  2. #2
    Clark is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Dear Sirs

    You could start with 'Dear Comrades', if you are not afraid of being taken for a bolshevik.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Dear Sirs

    I routinely start my e-mail to multiple recipients with "Hello all," or "Hello everyone,"

    I wouldn't have liked getting a "Dear Sirs" e-mail either, if I had been clearly identified as one of the recipients. Why do you think it's correct? Would "Dear Ladies" with two male recipients be correct?

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    Default Re: Dear Sirs

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    You could start with 'Dear Comrades', if you are not afraid of being taken for a bolshevik.
    Oh it's was so funny to meet the word "bolshevik " here.
    BR

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Dear Sirs

    Quote Originally Posted by JChevais View Post
    I work in a corporate atmosphere in France and sent a group email to a bunch of people including two women.

    The email started with "Dear Sirs". This annoyed one of the women, who happens to be English.

    I'm afraid that I may have assimilated too much French, though the email was in English, and can no longer remember what would have been more appropriate. Personally, though I'm told that "Dear Sirs" is considered sexist, I cannot understand why.

    Anyway, my point is that I don't know how I should have started the email.

    "Dear Sirs and Madams" sounds awful.

    "Ladies and Gentlemen" seems trite. It sounds as though I'm announcing a stage show.

    What would have been more appropriate?

    Many thanks
    You could try "Dear Colleagues", if you can bring yourself to regard the two women as colleagues.

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    Default Re: Dear Sirs

    The people I was addressing were are all very much my superiors.

    So no, Dear Colleagues, Comrades are out.

    I am a woman. "Dear Sirs" is short and to the point. I don't see what the big deal is. But that may be to my too many years in France and my assimilation to French grammatical rules.

    The French rule is that even if there is only one man in a group of women (even if that group of women numbers into the thousands), the group as a whole is referred to with a masculine pronoun (ils).

    "Hello everyone" or "Hello all" is not formal enough considering the heirarchical difference between myself and the people I was writing to.

    Bother.

  7. #7
    Reemy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dear Sirs

    I would go for Dear Sirs/Madams,

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Dear Sirs

    Quote Originally Posted by JChevais View Post
    The people I was addressing were are all very much my superiors.

    So no, Dear Colleagues, Comrades are out.

    I am a woman. "Dear Sirs" is short and to the point. I don't see what the big deal is. But that may be to my too many years in France and my assimilation to French grammatical rules.

    The French rule is that even if there is only one man in a group of women (even if that group of women numbers into the thousands), the group as a whole is referred to with a masculine pronoun (ils).

    "Hello everyone" or "Hello all" is not formal enough considering the heirarchical difference between myself and the people I was writing to.

    Bother.
    Ah, well you've missed the English Feminist Revolution. One can't even use a generic "he" any more in English. Perhaps you could ask the woman who objected what she would suggest?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Dear Sirs

    Even if French grammar allows 99 women and 1 man to be referred to collectively by the masculine plural, current English culture does not.

    Then "Ladies/Gentlemen" is a suitable alternative, and so is "Hello" without any further salutation that addresses sex.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Dear Sirs

    Quote Originally Posted by JChevais View Post
    The French rule is that even if there is only one man in a group of women (even if that group of women numbers into the thousands), the group as a whole is referred to with a masculine pronoun (ils).
    Bother.
    But we're not talking about the use of the personal pronoun (ils) here; we're talking about how to start a letter addressing people of both sexes. Quite a different matter. In this respect, even in French, the distinction is made:

    Mesdames, Messieurs,

    In fact, if you start typing "Mesdames ... ", that little automatic thing that tries to tell you how to word beginnings and endings will spring into action and itself propose Mesdames, Messieurs, ... .

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