x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Less 'Dear' in the West but not here

According to report in the Wall Street Journal, starting your correspondence with 'Dear ...' has gone the way of the telegram

Oh dear. It seems that one of the most familiar salutations in the English language is in danger of being the latest victim of modernisation. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, starting your correspondence with "Dear" has gone the way of the telegram.

The proliferation of email, social media and text messaging has already dealt major blows to the formalities of letter writing. A casual "hi" or "hello" at the top of a message is hardly uncommon these days but still unacceptable in many non-English speaking cultures.

Arabic societies, for example, continue to value the formalities of letter writing. The practice builds both respect and intimacy between writer and recipient. And at a time when business communication is predominantly electronic mail, much of which eventually goes unread, such reverence for tradition is to be welcomed.

In recent years, there have been concerns that the long-term prospects of the Arabic language is at risk from globalisation, the rising number of expatriates in the region and the subsequent preference of English as a first language at schools and universities. Preserving even the smallest of linguistic traditions, like old-fashioned letter writing, helps to ensure that the risk is kept at bay. Indeed, these are practices we should hold dear.