Valediction

Valediction

[val-i-dik-shuhn]
A valediction is an expression used to say farewell (goodbye), especially at the end of a letter. (Other meanings not discussed in this article include the act of saying goodbye and a speech made at such an occasion.) The word comes from the Latin valedicere, meaning "to say goodbye".

The word valediction is often used loosely in English to refer to a complimentary closing, which is a courteous formula used to end a letter. This is normally a formulaic phrase preceding the writer's signature that expresses the writer's loyalty or best wishes to the recipient.

A valediction is often related to the salutation used in the letter or message.

Valedictions in letters (English)

Old formal valedictions

English language valedictions typically contain the word yours, a contraction of your servant; old valedictions were usually some voluminous statement, a complete sentence of the form

I beg to remain, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,
O.G.

This form is occasionally abbreviated to

Your obt svt,
O.G.

As well as

YOB,
O.G.

Yours sincerely and Yours faithfully

In the UK, traditional valedictions have been mainly replaced by "Yours sincerely" or "Yours faithfully".

Yours sincerely is used when the recipient is addressed by name and is known to you to some degree, and Yours faithfully is used when the recipient is not known by name (i.e. the recipient is addressed by a phrase such as "Dear Sir/Madam").

When the recipient's name is known, but not previously met or spoken with, some people prefer the use of the more distant Yours faithfully, but most prefer to use Yours sincerely.

In the US, "Yours sincerely" is properly used in social correspondence. "Yours faithfully" is properly used in business correspondence with someone whose name is unknown to the writer (i.e., in a letter addressed "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern").

In the US, the inverted "Sincerely yours" and the simplified "Sincerely" are also common.

Yours truly,

Yours truly can carry either or both of two connotations in certain parts of the world: as a valediction formula, and by implication, as an informal reference by a person to themselves - "the speaker". As valediction: In the USA, traditional valedictions have been mainly replaced by phrases such as "Yours truly," or "Very truly yours,". In the UK it has not historically been a common term, and is used only in less formal or social correspondence. As self-reference: Mostly UK slang, usage varies by area (not uncommon in London and similar areas, uncommon in many regional areas). It stands as a social device to circumvent the general distaste for being seen to blow one's trumpet (ie, to boast or show off) or in taking blame. Thus:

* "Yours truly made the cake" -- a more polite informal way to say "I made the cake".
* "If yours truly hadn't been sick that day..."

In this manner, it is also fairly common to sarcastically refer to a person present in the conversation, when talking to another person:

* "Everything was going fine before yours truly here showed up..."

Yours aye

"Yours aye" is a Scottish expression meaning "yours always"

Yours, etc.

This is a usage in the USA by lawyers when they conclude a formal letter, or when they sign off in court papers that would also be read by a judge. Sometimes, it's shortened even further to Yours, &c. where et (Latin for and) is replaced with the ampersand (&).

In Jane Austen books, some letters are signed Yours, etc. or Yours Sincerely, etc.

Kind regards, best regards

Increasingly common in business usage, "kind regards" and especially "best regards" are often used as a semi-formal valediction in emails. In informal usage, they are often abbreviated to "BR" or "KR". The use of "kind regards" is most likely derived from the more formal, "kindest regards," which is itself a phrase derived from the even more formal combination of "Kindest regards, I remain," "yours" or "truly yours" or any one of a number of valedictions in common usage.

I have the honour to remain, Madam, Your Majesty's most humble and obedient servant

This is used when addressing the Queen of the United Kingdom.

Misc

Other less formal expressions exist, often some variant of Best wishes such as All my best or, simply, Best. For family members or intimates, an expression such as Your friend, Your loving son or (in the case of lovers) Your Albert may be used; or the name may simply be preceded with All my love or Love.

Less commonly, other adverbs or adverbial phrases may be used, in keeping with the tone of the letter, such as In solidarity or Fraternally. Christian clergy often use Yours in Christ. Jews in the United States commonly use "B'shalom" (in peace) within Jewish circles, but this is rarely used by native Hebrew speakers. Israelis are more likely to end a formal letter with "b'chavod" (with honor) or informally, "kol tuv" (all the best).

Valedictions in letters in French

Standard French language valedictions tend to be much more complex than standard English ones, more akin to older English valedictions. They show a fair degree of variation, for example:

Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, l'expression de mes sentiments distingués.
"Please receive , Madam, Sir, the expression of my distinguished sentiments."

Or:

Veuillez recevoir, Monsieur, mes sincères salutations.
"Please receive, Sir, my sincere salutations."

Or:

Je vous prie de croire, Madame, à mes sentiments les meilleurs.
"I beg you to believe, Madam, in my best sentiments."

It may be enhanced with a participial phrase concluding the sense of the letter, though this must be used with a formula beginning with the first person in order to make grammatical sense:

Espérant recevoir une réponse favorable, je vous prie d'agréer, Madame...
"Hoping for a favourable answer, I beg you to allow, Madam..."

A number of rules concern the use of these formulas. For example, the title used in the salutation of the letter must be reproduced in the valediction; so a letter addressing Madame la députée would conclude, Je vous prie, Madame la députée.

Other rules exist: - the word assurance should be used in a letter from a hierarchical superior to an inferior, whereas the word expression should be used in a letter from a hierarchical inferior to a superior, and not conversely. - in a letter from a man to a woman or from a woman to a man, the writer must not send sentiments if they are not close family relatives.

Such formulas may be used even in more friendly letters, often with the adjective cher or chère for the recipient. Letters to dignitaries may use even more grandiose styles, such as:

Je vous prie d'agréer, Monsieur le Premier ministre, l'expression de ma haute considération.
"I beg you to allow, Mr. Prime Minister, the expression of my highest consideration."

According to the French typographic rules, the official title should be spelled "Premier ministre" although people who mimic English titles or fear that they might appear disrespectful often use more capitals than the rules commend.

Veuillez agréer, Madame l'Ambassadeur, l'expression de mes salutations les plus respectueuses.
"Please allow, Madam Ambassador, the expression of my most respectful salutations."

Another French typographic rule also states that when addressing someone, styles like Monsieur, Madame, Mademoiselle, should never be abbreviated, even if followed by a title (hence, writing M. le Premier Ministre or Mme l'Ambassadeur would be considered rude).

Much shorter styles may be used in brief notes (Sincères salutations), and informal letters (such as between intimates) may use expressions such as (with approximate English equivalents—not literal translations):

  • Amicalement ("In friendship")
  • Amitiés ("Your friend")
  • À bientôt ("See you soon")
  • Au plaisir de vous revoir ("Hope to see you soon")
  • Bien amicalement ("Yours warmly")
  • Bien à vous ("Yours truly")
  • Cordialement ("Cordially")
  • Meilleures salutations ("Warmest greetings")
  • Salutations distinguées ("Sincere greetings")

Unlike in English, when the letter writer has a title that is unique in his or her organization, it is placed before, not after, the name:

Veuillez recevoir, Monsieur, mes sincères salutations.
La vice-présidente des ressources humaines,
:
A.B.

Valedictions in letters in German

Valedictions in German tend to be subject to similar flexibility as in French, are however a great deal less complex. The highly formal form Hochachtungsvoll has been practically obsolete for many years and is very rarely used in modern German, except for highly formal correspondence from authorities or in letters with a highly negative connotation where "friendliness" would not be appropriate.

The standard business valediction is Mit freundlichen Grüßen (lit. "with friendly regards") and is equivalent to Yours sincerely or Yours faithfully in English. A more seldom used variant of this is Mit freundlichem Gruß, which is as above but in the singular form. Other semi-formal alternatives include (roughly in order of formality, most to least) Mit besten Grüßen (lit. "with best regards"), Beste Grüße, Mit herzlichen Grüßen (lit. "with sincere regards"), Viele Grüße (lit. "many regards"), Schöne Grüße (lit. "nice regards").

German valedictions also offer the possibility of adding your location, e.g. Mit freundlichen Grüßen aus Berlin to added effect. While this is no less formal, it does have a more "relaxed" feel to it.

These valedictions are also often adapted to specific professions, states or political views. For example, socialist and communist groups often use Mit solidarischen Grüßen ("with regards in solidarity"), Mit sportlichen Grüßen, ("with sporting regards") for sportspersons and Mit gebärdenfreundlichen Grüßen ("with friendly regards in sign language") among persons hard of hearing.

More familiar valedictions in German follow the same formula. "Alles Liebe" or "(Viele) liebe Grüße" are common in German for friends or family. Male friends or close colleagues among each other may use simply "Gruß".

It is possible in informal and rapid e-mail communication to sometimes use abbreviations of the forms, unlike in English. In this way, Mit freundlichen Grüßen may be shortened to mfg and Liebe Grüße may be shortened to lg. A popular form in German in recent years, hdgdl (hab dich ganz doll lieb, lit. "am fond of you", often used for somewhere between "I like you" and "I love you") has found increased usage in SMS text messaging and e-mails in more intimate relationships.

The German Criminal Code forbids the use of "Mit deutschem Gruß", as it has National Socialist overtones.

Valedictions in e-mail

Valedictions in formal e-mail are similar to valedictions in letters: on the whole, they are variations of "regards" and "yours". However, a wide range of popular valedictions are used in casual e-mail but very rarely in letters. These include:

  • Cheers
  • Keep in touch
  • Take care
  • Warmly

E-mail messages, especially those used for very brief communication, are commonly signed off without valedictions, these being replaced by automatically appended signature texts. Some are pragmatically not signed off at all, since a sender's name is usually provided in the message headers.

See also

References

ISBN 0-87779-709-9

External links

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