Good morning, friends,
Formal address designations, I thought, had gone the way of the dinosaurs. In the feminist 1970s, we gave up the prevailing "Mrs." and "Miss" in favor of the equalizing "Ms.," a title celebrated by Gloria Steinem's magazine (www.msmagazine.com). Then, not to be outdone, men slowly relinquished the suffix "Esq.", (www.esquire.com) and even "Mr." seemed to pass away as a salutation. Envelopes began arriving at my door with without any titles at all, just plain names unadorned. It was the same with inside addresses on the letters inside.
Then the letters' salutations changed drastically, as the formal was superceded by the informal. "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern" changed to first name hellos (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/salutations). Even austere insurance and mortagage companies began to address me as "Dear Corinne." In fact, it was quite a shock when I moved in the mid-1980s from gracious Montreal, where my last name was always preceded by "Madame," to business-minded Toronto, where unknown telephone receptionists breezily greeted me by my first name (they already had caller ID) as soon as I called.
In the 1990s the advance of email as a mode of communication raised its hello and goodbye questions. (www.webfoot.com). How did you address the recipient? My daughter's generation thought that "Hi" was a friendly saluatation suited to the electronic age. So I got used to "Hi Corinne" or simply a more general "Hi" (if the email was ccd to a host of recipients) as a prelude to the body of the message, and lo and behold, I was using it too. I even inserted an occasional emoticon to show that I was smiling, despite the content. "Hi" seemed to be groovy (a kind of 60s or 70s word, but maybe it's "retro" now). Some people, more corporate types, simply eliminated a greeting altogether. My first name was sufficient, a terse "Corinne" followed by the ubiquitous colon.
What about the ending, though, just before the sender signature? That seemed more difficult. Obviously, "Sincerely" or "Yours truly" belonged to another era. Obsolete. I rather liked "Best regards" or "Kind regards," ("Kindest regards" was for special occasions), but even these were losing ground as senders began to eliminate both my name at the beginning and theirs at the close of the message. Wasn't it apparent from the "From:" and "To:" in the pre-message who the email was intended for and who it was from? Why waste keystrokes in a busy, technological world?
Just as I was resigning myself to the brevity of messaging (text messaging with its innovative abbreviations had arrived) in the information age, there was a new development. I began receiving messages from twenty-somethings and even from twenty-nine somethings with the elegant opening greeting: "Good morning, Corinne." Admittedly some senders didn't include the grammatically obligatory comma before my name ("Good morning Corinne"), but I'll overlook that. What an elegant greeting, suggesting that the sender attended to business first thing in the morning and made you a priority, even wishing you well for the day! I like it. It's suited to the corporate world, to casual acquaintance, to friendship, to everything. True, I haven't received any "Good afternoon, Corinne" or "Good evening, Corinne" messages yet, but it's nice to feel that you're on the top of the morning list. As the Irish used to say, "The top of the mornin' t' you!" It's like nodding to someone (or tipping your hat) when you meet them on the street while you're walking your dog (www.poochbuddies.com).
Closing greetings are still uncertain. Some of the new style opening greeting senders don't add anything after the body of the messsage and before their signature. Just their names. Others have reduced "Best regards" to "Best." That's okay with me. I'll even settle for LOL. Maybe we're at the beginning stages of recovering the eloquence and elegance of the lost, literate art of letter writing (www.timesolvers.com).
If you have any comments to add to this blog, will you please send them in the "Good morning, Corinne" A.M.?