You’ve Got Mail

Another little detail I noticed on the poster that inspired yesterday’s post: FOR BOOKING MAIL…

Nothing really remarkable there, but I was curious about the use of to mail as a verb. Again, that’s not really revolutionary, but I did notice the lack of an E. Just mail, not email.  Continue reading

Kind Regards

A lot of us write a lot more than we used to. If you work in a office, or even from home, there’s a good chance that your job requires you to send at least a few emails a day. I sent 34 work emails on Wednesday, for example (I also sent a lot on Thursday and Friday, but as the school I work in was closed because of the severe weather, I won’t count those). And this is still a relatively quiet period. Even if a lot of us are used to sending emails though, there’s something of an art to writing one.

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Mr, Mrs, and Ms

Teaching French-speaking teenagers recently, I was momentarily surprised when they started to call me Mister. Then I remembered that in French the word monsieur can be used like sir in American English. It doesn’t need to come before a surname, like Mister in English, so most students refer to their male teachers as Monsieur, as we use Sir in English. But they of course understandably translated monsieur to mister.

We use sir to refer to a teacher in most varieties of English too, but not to refer to a man in general when we don’t know his name. It’s only really used in that way in American English.

Mister though, is used in basically the same way in every form of English, as the standard honorific for an adult male. Isn’t it curious though, that for women there are three honorifics: Miss, Ms, and Mrs?

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Revert Back to Me

This phrase is one that’s become increasingly common in business emails in the last couple of years. Basically, it just means get back to me or reply to me. For example:

Revert back to me when you’ve finished the report.

Find out what time they want to have the meeting, then revert back to me when it’s been organised.

It’s part of the strange new world of business jargon: blue-sky thinking, move the needle etc. And while a lot of these short-lived buzzwords can be annoying, revert back to me tends to be the focus of particular anger. The main reason for that is because the word is basically being used incorrectly. Revert means to change to a previous state or action. So for example, someone might revert to a childlike state after a traumatic incident. A werewolf, with the passing of the full moon, might revert to its human state. It’s basically similar to return, but is more specifically similar to transform back. So what someone’s saying when they use revert back to me is transform back into me. Well, I never actually was you in the first place, so that’d be pretty hard! Continue reading