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1. Why do so many grad students (and profs?) sign with "cheers" or "best"? Is there some sort of academic casual-email-lingo that I missed?

2. Why are spouses/boy-girlfriends called partners? I do understand that it's a commitment and gender-neutral term...but it also evokes a business transaction!

Anyone got answers? or interesting speculations? Anyone with other questions that you feel are too trivial or "dumb" to ask your adviser?


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 23rd, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
haha at #1. seemingly all my professors from undergrad did that. so, now that i'm teaching and sending emails to students, how do i sign off on my emails? with "best," of course! :)

(ah, only if i had someone to call my partner! whine whine whine. :D)
Oct. 2nd, 2008 05:27 am (UTC)
*grins* hehehe...see, this is how traditions live on :)

"ah, only if i had someone to call my partner! whine whine whine."

*grins* new york is a big city, you know...I'm sure that you must meet attractive, as well as "unique" individuals on your long commutes.
Sep. 23rd, 2008 11:51 pm (UTC)
To the first question, I think the standard salutations seem cold, abrupt, and meaningless--much more suited for the business transaction than to a colleague/colleague or teacher/student e-mail. I use "Regards, Best, and Best Regards" typically. They're at once polite, kind, and stand ambiguously between formal and informal.

I have a couple of friends who use "partner"; they argument was that "boyfriend/girlfriend" sounded like they were in high school. The two of them have been dating for years, and are my age or a year older (around 26ish). I also had a professor when I was an undergraduate whose long-term partner and he used that term for each other. I'm still not sure if they were married.
Oct. 2nd, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
I understand the meaningful ambiguity here...I'm just slightly bemused/annoyed that it conjures a different set of connotations that might be...inappropriate to the situation.
Sep. 24th, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
I usually say "Best wishes," which is what "Best" is getting at. I leave "cheers" to the Canadians and British, whom I envy for this option. I picked it up from my own profs.

I don't like the term partner, too, for the business transaction connotation. I think it started out as a euphemism for "same-sex partner" but has evolved. Significant other is too long, husband is not factually correct, and boyfriend makes me sound sixteen. Bleh. Partner seems to say, in the shortest way possible "person with whom I share a household and/or other long-term commitment that involves the merging of long-term interests with."

The funny thing is that my boyfriend (which is how I naturally refer to him, apparently), hates "partner," because to him it is specifically something pretentious academics at cocktail parties say. Not that he or I has that opinion of everyone who uses this term; there were a few specific incidents, though. My graduate student cohort called the people we were sleeping with "my euphemism."
Oct. 2nd, 2008 05:25 am (UTC)
"I leave "cheers" to the Canadians and British, whom I envy for this option. I picked it up from my own profs."

Exactly! I really like cheers (I feel like I should be holding a bubbly in my hand and celebrating!), but I feel like a fraud using it.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 2nd, 2008 05:24 am (UTC)
Re: #1 and another question
I don't have an answer, but it drive me nuts too. By default, I call them by "prof last name" until I'm told to do otherwise.
Sep. 24th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
Hm. I think "cheers" is of British extraction (it seems to be an all-purpose word here, unexpectedly sharing many of the functions of "ok.") and best likely does come from shortening "best wishes." I usually try and end with something to the effect of "Hope you're doing well" or "Hope all is going well," but mayhap that's my southern-ness coming out.

Wow, I had no idea "partner" could seem pretentious... I always understood it to mean specifically a same-sex partner (or a business partner). I guess it's part of the bumpy and halting shift of the language as we come to terms with more equality between genders in relationships and relationships between people of the same gender. When I was just coming to grips with my sexuality myself, I realized I instinctively used the word "boyfriend" to refer to a hypothetical (sigh) romantic interest... even though I was thinking about a girl when I said it. I guess these kinds of things never flow naturally.

I had so many professors who signed emails with their initials too, gaah. I think it's because it's shorter, probably, and I always took it as a more familiar way of signing off. I'm not a fan either because it leaves how you ought to address them in the salutation pretty unclear.

Follow-up question since we seem to be going down the route of amusing letter-writing trivia... when does a Miss become as Ms., or are they the same thing?
Sep. 24th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
Well, I think either a Miss or a Mrs. is a Ms. automatically, so there isn't any specific time one "becomes" a Ms. Ms. is just the female equivalent of Mr. since there aren't married/unmarried variations of Mr.
Sep. 24th, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC)
Boyfriend does make you sound as though you are sixteen maybe they should start saying "special friend"

Sep. 24th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
I've always thought referring to him as "my lover" in a completely blase tone would be kind of fun. Or, on the other end, like those people on SNL, "my LUVAH."
Sep. 27th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
Partner just says 'I'm not a teenager; this is a serious relationship'. I only use it when I feel that the person I'm talking to is inclined not to take me seriously. 'Partner' is often a passive-aggressive deployment in a response, but it's meant to be polite when in an inquiry.
Oct. 2nd, 2008 05:23 am (UTC)
"I only use it when I feel that the person I'm talking to is inclined not to take me seriously."

Come to think of it...that's a good point. I use (or used to use, or whatnot) "partner" when I'm trying to nonchalantly emphasize the relationship...and move to the more relaxed "boyfriend" when I'm in a more relaxed environment.

Oct. 2nd, 2008 05:33 am (UTC)
Oct. 2nd, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
age denial
Partner says "I'm not a teenager" in a self conscious manner as if you are purposefully trying to appear older because you fear you may appear too young... An older professor I do not think would say partner I think he or she would happily say girlfriend boyfriend

Come to think of it I can recall a 23 y/o graduate student professor abusing the term "partner" and a 40 y/o professor overusing the term "gf"...
Oct. 2nd, 2008 05:22 am (UTC)
Re: age denial
hmmm. That strikes me as a bit ageist.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )