Monday, June 17, 2013


These are familiar initials in the US, where French speakers are fairly rare. There's a general grasp of the meaning: "Please Reply". A literal translation of the French is "Respond if it pleases you". Those initials have been adapted here to often become a verb, giving birth to such monstrosities as "Please RSVP" and "Have you RSVP'd?" I was brought up to believe that good manners called for a response to all communications containing "RSVP". I'm a bit more selective now. If it's (say) a wedding or dinner invitation, of course a response is needed. If it's a commercial or institutional inquiry, I recognize that it is just a matter of the hosting entity wanting to know how many places to set, I don't choose to waste time and maybe a stamp in replying that I won't be there. (I know I'll be in good company when ignoring the request.) In recent times I've noticed a helpful variant. If the invitation says "Acceptances Only" I don't have the least twinge of confidence in taking a pass on the event and the need to make a negative response.

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