Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My name is [your name here].

E.B. White, in a 1969 Paris Review interview:

Television affects the style of children — that I know. I receive letters from children, and many of them begin: “Dear Mr. White, My name is Donna Reynolds.” This is the Walter Cronkite gambit, straight out of TV. When I was a child I never started a letter, “My name is Elwyn White.” I simply signed my name at the end.
This observation reminds me of what I wrote in my post on how to e-mail a professor:
Why sign with your name, class, and meeting time? It’s a courtesy, yes, but it also avoids the awkward “My name is . . . , and I am a student in your such-and-such class,” all of which is taken care of in the signature. It occurs to me that “My name is . . . , and I am a student in . . .” is telling evidence of the unfamiliarity of e-mail as a way for students to communicate with professors.
“My name is” does sound childlike, doesn’t it? Or spammy: “Hello My Dear One, my name is,” &c.

comments: 7

Elaine said...

There are times (such as letters of consolation) when I think it important to begin by explaining my connection and why I am writing, because the signature is not likely to be familiar to the recipient.

It can always be done in a grown-up way, after all.

'As a regular reader of your blog, Dr. Leddy, I would like to invite you to ....' Now, that takes care of it nicely, does it not?

Michael Leddy said...

Yes. Thanks for suggesting a way around “My name is.”

What am I invited to? :)

The Arthurian said...

I am not the right person to point this out -- how's that for an opening? -- but your "My name is" reminded me of Eminem's rather good song of the same name. (Don't worry, I won't link to it.)

Once upon a time, when you picked up the phone & said 'hello' the person on the other end would identify himself. Now the first thing the caller says is "WHO'S THIS?"

It's a different world.

Michael Leddy said...

I just read the lyrics — wow.

I remember learning “This is . . .” and “May I please speak to . . . ” as major elements of phone etiquette when I was young.

Elaine said...

A week ago I would have argued that callers don't say rude things like, "Who is this?"....but when the orthopedist's nurse returned a call re my mother-in-law (broken arm) and I answered the phone, she said, in very suspicious tones, "Who IS this?" I laughed and replied, "Well, who is THIS?" but actually I was far from amused and continue to think it was unprofessional and just plain tacky.

Oh, and Dr. Leddy, you and your lovely wife are invited to dinner, unless it's just too far to come, or unless you feel two Elaines would be too hard to deal with. ;0)

Michael Leddy said...

Elaine, it is pretty far. Maybe someday we can.

P.S.: On the Internets, I’m just Michael. I’m tempted to use “Dr. Leddy” though when we get yet another call for a local chiropractor. “No, Dr. W—— is no longer here. This is Dr. Leddy.” :)

Elaine said...

Michael, I just did the 'Dr.' bit as an example; don't worry, I promise to treat you irreverently (ha.)

Arkansas, like West Virginia, has a lot of natural beauty but gets overlooked a lot...but if you ever venture this far I'll leave the latch-string out.