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      • Native Language:
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    #1

    salutation in a formal letter

    I am a translator of books from English into Polish. Recently I needed to contact a professor in Britain about a book he co-authored. I emailed his institution and asked for his direct email address. He wrote first to me, addressing me " Dear Alicja" and signed off as " John". Had I been the first to write to him, I would have addressed him as " Dear Professor+Surname" But now I don't know what salutation I should use. May I just write : " Dear John", to parallel his friendly style? What is the letter etiquette in Britain?

  1. Ouisch's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: salutation in a formal letter

    You should take your cue from him. Had you contacted him first, the proper form (as you stated) would be to address him as "Professor XXXXX." But since he addressed you by your first name and signed his mail with his first name, he is inviting you to be informal and to address him by his first name.

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    #3

    Re: salutation in a formal letter

    Ok, thanks. As you are from the US I just wonder whether the same rules apply in the UK, I know that Americans are more relaxed about first name basis.

  2. Ouisch's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: salutation in a formal letter

    I am from the US, but I am also very "old-school" and in favor of the formal traditions when it comes to written correspondence.


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #5

    Re: salutation in a formal letter

    In the UK, informality is quite usual in email communications, particularly if the person is [relatively] young. However, If I were you, I would still keep the tone of your email's text fairly formal at this point.


    • Join Date: May 2009
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    #6

    Cool Re: salutation in a formal letter

    Answering your respondent in the format he used in replying to you is just good manners. Don't let anyone tell you there is a difference between Brits and Americans on this one.

  3. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: salutation in a formal letter

    I agree with OUish, just because he is being modest and approachable doesn't mean you should drop all decorum. I'd still write "Sir," or "Professor," until he specifically asks you to call him John.

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    #8

    Re: salutation in a formal letter

    Doesn't his signing the letter as John do that? Replying very formally muight seem like a criticism of his approach. I would reply in his style, though I am not comfortable with such informality.

  4. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: salutation in a formal letter

    Maybe, but I have found, more than once, that people offer to pay when it's your turn, and people are friendly, modest and informal before they're ready to be equals. This is especially obvious in French, where you speak to a person as "tu" or "vous"... and if they start getting informal, it's not always correct to do so yourself, if the person is an authority of some kind... like a professor. And my instincts have told me that illustrious older professors still like the respect, even in English, at least for a few more emails.

  5. Monticello's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: salutation in a formal letter

    Hi alla,

    Should your instincts still advise you to address the professor as "Dear Professor X," then by all means do so. At the same time, by signing his email to you simply as "John," he is definitely inviting you to address him accordingly.

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