Addressing a letter to a committee

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Mekon:
Hello all.
I have to write an application to a committee, I seem to remember one option being "Dear Sirs/Mesdames" but that seems horribly formal and outdated. Is there a preferred greeting?
Mekon
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Rtnda:
Gentlemen:
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Arcadian Rises:
I prefer "Dear Committee".
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Professor Redwine:
[nq:1]I prefer "Dear Committee".[/nq]
"Dear Sirs/Mesdames" strikes me as odd. I have seen both "Dear Sirs" and "Messieurs & Mesdames" in British guides, but if these are too formal and outdated, then why not address the letter to the Committee and then as a salutation use "Dear Committee Members"?

Redwine
Hamburg
(previously: Berlin, Northants, Derbs, Staffs, NSW, Tasmania, Melbourne, rural Victoria, in that and many other orders)
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rewboss:
"Mekon" (Email Removed) schrieb im Newsbeitrag
[nq:1]Hello all. I have to write an application to a committee, I seem to remember oneoption being "Dear Sirs/Mesdames" but that seems horribly formal and outdated. Is there a preferred greeting?[/nq]
Until fairly recently, it was always "Dear Sirs", even if it was likely that some committee members were women. These days, of course, that's no longer politically correct, leaving us with the problem of how to address such a committee.
"Dear Sirs and Mesdames" is only accurate if the committee is made up of both men and women; "Dear Sirs or Mesdames" only if the committee is made up of the members of one sex only. "Dear Sirs and/or Mesdames" is accurate, but ugly. "Dear Committee" is impersonal.
My suggestion would be: "Dear members of the Committee". That seems to cover all eventualities.
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Don Phillipson:
Almost anything is better than this. American use of the slash / is borrowed from military signals
(to save space), looks unusual (since it has no
other function in writing except URLs) and has
been too often abused (e.g. people write about
the gay/lesbian communities or even the gay/
lesbian/transexual communities.)
The conventional meaning of the slash is and/or
i.e. it should be interpreted to mean (indifferently) either one or both the two words it separates.
It has become a cliche of "inclusivism," i.e.
Politically Correct anxiety to avoid the impression our words ignore (let alone condemn) groups
within our community.
(French offers even greater opportunities for
this, because French nouns have gender,
i.e. a male student is etudiant and a female
etudiante. This thus permits anxious French
writers to to write about etudiant(e)s as if
the word etudiants excluded every female
student which is unlikely or ridiculous,
depending on your initial attitude.)
Written English has a set of conventions, e.g.
beginning a letter Dear Sir or Gentlemen.
Moodern PC anxieties tend to override these
conventions: i.e. some people truly believe a
letter to a group addressed to Gentlemen
either slights or ignores any women who may
be members of the group. This is ludicrous
because personal, i.e. directly opposed to
the function of conventional rules for letters
or other forms of writing.
When writing a particular letter, we may have
good reasons to differ from the inherited
convention: but personal PC anxiety is not
likely to be a "good reason."

Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs (Ottawa, Canada)
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rewboss:
"Don Phillipson" (Email Removed) schrieb im Newsbeitrag
[nq:1]The conventional meaning of the slash is and/or i.e. it should be interpreted to mean (indifferently) either one or both ... as if the word etudiants excluded every female student which is unlikely or ridiculous, depending on your initial attitude.)[/nq]
German is even better or worse, depending on your point of view.

Many nouns ending in -er that refer to a person (e.g. "Lehrer", "teacher") have a feminine form ending in -in ("Lehrerin"). In the plural, the masculine form remains unchanged while the feminine form ends in -innen ("Lehrer" and "Lehrerinnen"). Luckily, unlike French, German has only one form of the third-person plural pronoun.
There are various possible ways of addressing a group of teachers:

Lehrer und -innen (not incorrect, but not exactly appropriate either) Lehrer und Lehrerinnen (bit of a tongue-twister, that) Lehrerinnen und Lehrer (no improvement on the last) LehrerInnen (which nobody knows how to pronounce)
If you are writing a round-robin letter to all the teachers in your school, and can't be bothered to write a personal greeting on each one, the possibilities are endless, because you can use the singular or you can try to:
Liebe Lehrer und -innen!
Liebe Lehrer und Lehrerinnen!
Liebe Lehrerinnen und Lehrer!
Liebe LehrerInnen!
Liebe Lehrerin! Lieber Lehrer!
Lieber Lehrer! Liebe Lehrerin!
Liebe(r) Lehrer(in)!
Liebe(r) LehrerIn!
Liebe(r) Lehrer bzw. -in!
...and so on.
But when writing to a committee, there is a standard form which is unobjectionable to everyone:
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren!
(Literally: "Highly esteemed ladies and gentlemen")
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Arcadian Rises:
[nq:1]"Dear Sirs and Mesdames" is only accurate if the committee is made up of both men and women; "Dear Sirs ... up of the members of one sex only. "Dear Sirs and/or Mesdames" is accurate, but ugly. "Dear Committee" is impersonal.[/nq]
So is your address to the committee. You don't address each member personally (not even if one of them is your uncle), but as part of the committee.

To avoid being impersonal, you need to address each member by name, but this would be impractical in a salutation.
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Arcadian Rises:
[nq:2]I prefer "Dear Committee".[/nq]
[nq:1]"Dear Sirs/Mesdames" strikes me as odd. I have seen both "Dear Sirs" and "Messieurs & Mesdames" in British guides, but if these are too formal and outdated, then why not address the letter to the Committee and then as a salutation use "Dear Committee Members"?[/nq]
Because you address the committee as a whole.
I know it's hairsplitting, but isn't it a difference between addressing an institution and addressing each member of that institution?
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