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French letters

So, I have been conducting a very brief email correspondence with someone at a library in Montreal and to judge from his spelling and sentence construction English is definitely not his primary language (though he's perfectly comprehensible), so I thought, "ah, I shall use a French-language closing to my email as a vague sort of gesture of something or other," but then I realized that I don't know how to close an email in French, so I tried to look it up online but everything is either insanely formal (the closing would be longer than the text of the email!) or "grosses bises" (and although this guy seems nice enough we are not quite on those terms).

Do people actually close letters with "Veuillez recevoir, Monsieur, mes salutations distingués"? Even in Canada? If this is actually the way French-language business correspondence is conducted I don't think I'd ever be able to write a proper French business letter and keep a straight face.

Actually, poking around a bit more it looks like "cordialement" could be a way to go for an informal email. Although that still sounds odd to me, but so would "sincerely" I suppose, if I weren't familiar with it.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 13th, 2010 01:11 pm (UTC)
That's the way all my French textbooks suggest ending a formal business letter ("veuillez recevoir...), but in general, I think written communication in France is quite a bit more formal than we're used to - my current text is intended for business communication, but even so it all seems super strict and ultra polite.

You could also use "Meilleures salutations" or, like you said, "cordialement".
May. 14th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, obviously when I write a business letter I write more formally, but the French constructions are SO formal! They sound like something I would use if I were writing to the Queen of England in 1875! I can't quite bring myself to use those, but given that I've made it this far in life without having to write any business communications (or really hardly any letters at all) in French, I think I will be OK.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )