It’s happening again. I’m getting LinkedIn messages from total strangers that open with phrases like “Hey, dear Nagle!” and “Greetings, dear lady!”
These greetings are jarring, especially in the context of a cold business contact, but it’s easy enough to imagine how they developed. If you’ve been taught that it is polite to use dear when opening a letter in English but also that Dear Ms. Nagle is too formal for online messages, you might attempt to strike a happy medium by doing a mash-up of formal and informal terms. And if it’s acceptable to address a crowd as “ladies and gentlemen,” then it must be polite to address an individual woman as “lady,” right? Well, not exactly.
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