Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Politeness formula la formule de politesse

Writing a letter - in French - whether to a government agency, a business, a thank you for dinner or a birthday gift can be fraught with danger.
A high wire act which must encompass the proper French formula de politesse i.e. pretentious words and old fashioned salutations and sign offs, the object of your missive clearly stated and with appropriate Reference i.e. memo heading or case number and the action you wish to happen or have acknowledged.
It goes on. My conundrum was how to end a formal letter correctly in French. Why? Because there are many ways to do that: 1-Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, l'assurance de mes sentiments respectueux 2) Avec mes remerciements, je vous prie de trouver ici, Madame, Mademoiselle, 3- l'expression de mes sentiments distingués Recevez, Madame, Monsieur, 4-mes salutations distinguées Croyez, Madame, Monsieur, Or more simply 1a)Bien à vous 1b) Votre dévoué 1c) Cordialement 1d) Toutes mes amitiés These are just the tip of the iceberg. At the end I chose Cordialement Cara Tuesday


  1. So wonderful to know that these throwbacks to a tonier age are still in use, Cara. I remain, your obedient servant, A. Alf.

  2. I had to put up with even more inane and old-fashioned meaningless verbal shenanigans on Romanian documents, so the French ones oddly familiar to me...