Hi all,

I learned some “strange” old-fashioned phrases or jargon and want share with you.

Here are a few of those:

1. Please find
As in “Please find the brochure you requested” or “Please find my Week Two assignment”. This sounds extremely strange in modern English. If you want to enclose something in a letter, for example, or would like to point something out to your correspondent, the modern phrase is one of the following:

• Here is the brochure you requested.
• I am enclosing/attaching the brochure you requested.

As a matter of fact, you have to be careful when using PLEASE. This word means that you are asking someone to do you a favor or service and should not
be used in any other way.

2. Kindly
As in “Kindly reply as soon as possible”
This is a really peculiar phrase and completely incorrect in modern American business and personal correspondence. I understand that it is common usage in some of the posts, but it is not actually correct modern English and you should NOT use kindly instead of please. If you are requesting a favor or service, you should simply say PLEASE or “I / We would appreciate it if…”.

3. Soonest
If you mean “As soon as possible”, then that is what you should say or write in modern English. The word “soonest”, when used in this way, is actually a kind of cable shorthand. And it is not correct in “normal” English correspondence, whether in the United States or the UK. It looks and sounds bad.

4. At your earliest convenience
This is another of those old-fashioned phrases that some people use in correspondence; this one is different from the others, however, in that some people outside the diplomatic corps also use this phrase. However, it is incorrect in any context! Here is what you can say:

• As soon as possible
• As soon as you can

5. Please be advised
The phrase “Please be advised” has no meaning in English. This is just one of those horrible phrases that come up in bureaucratic writing and lots of people appear to have learned that PLEASE BE ADVISED is a polite way to give people information. But since it is not understandable, it is neither polite nor good English. If you have information for someone, the correct way to present it in a letter is:
• I am writing to tell you that…
• I am writing to give you the information that you requested about…
• It is my pleasure to inform you that…
• I’m sorry to inform/tell you that…

Again: you have to be careful when using PLEASE. This word means that you are asking someone to do you a favor or service and should not be used in any other way.

6. Your/his excellency
It is easy to see why you should use this word so much: in diplomatic circles, this is often the standard address for an ambassador and in your country you might even use it for the president of a country. However, this word is NOT standard in English for use with anyone but an ambassador; and Americans don’t usually use this word even for ambassadors. In general, the use of the word “Excellency” for a person makes Americans uncomfortable, and we only use it when it is socially imperative, such as in diplomacy with non-Americans who might expect to be addressed as “your excellency”. To address our own ambassadors, we would say “Mr. Ambassador” or “Madam Ambassador”, or just use their names. And we would never use the word excellency to refer to elected officials or anyone else within the USA. Modern British English is the same.

I know that there is a style guide in circulation at the posts that suggests the use of “Excellency” in many situations, even for elected officials, but the fact is that this is not acceptable modern usage. Just remember that elected heads of state are addressed in writing as President or Prime Minister, as the case may be, and the personal (family) name. For example, President Bush. It is standard form to refer to the president as Mr. President , only when you are speaking directly to him. It is enough, in speaking to just say Sir or Ma’am.

7. At post
Again, this is an expression that is internal jargon; it is common and acceptable and understood among colleagues in the State Department, but it is NOT English. You should not write this or even say it to anyone who is not working with you. It is important to remember that most people have no idea at all what at post (or even just the word post) means, and it is very vague. How will your listener or reader know WHICH post? Where? What is a “post”? You could say or write the word here if the reader will know what you are talking about. To be absolutely sure, you can give the exact name and location of the American installation that you are referring to; for example, the US embassy in Accra.

8. Per
Per is a Latin word, not an English word, and it is always better to use English in an English sentence if a standard English way exists. There are a few phrases in which per is the correct abbreviated form – mph (miles per hour), for example - but we do not use the form when we write it out in full or when we speak. We say “miles an hour”. On the other hand, mpg (miles per gallon) is used in both its abbreviated and full form and in both writing and speaking. However, in general, you should avoid using PER.

There is one use of PER that is completely incorrect no matter when or how you write or say it: When someone writes “PER your email” or “PER your letter” (meaning “with reference to” or “on the subject of”) it is not correct at all. Instead of saying “PER your email”, you could write one of the following:
• in response to your email
• in answer to your email
• following your email

9. Hereby
Hereby is another of those words that was invented in the nineteenth century to make someone sound more important than he was. Instead of saying “I hereby submit the form you requested”, why not just say “I am enclosing the form you asked for”. It sounds much more pleasant and much less bureaucratic.

If all of you have any more, pls add.

Cheer,
Tran
1 2
Nice research!

Number 8 is very interesting. If we write "miles an hour" instead of "miles per hour" then why not to change the the abbreviation from "mph" to "mah"? Otherwise we should stick with miles per hour...what do you say tran?
I've always said "miles per hour" when speaking.
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Oh, just use kilometers per second and be done with it.
Lower case k, lower case m, lower case s, superscript minus one.

Emotion: smile Rommie (just jesting)
9. "Hereby" is a perfectly good English word. It is NOT meaningless. It means "by this means". The following, for example, is a complete, and perfectly correct sentence.

"Hereby I succeeded".

In this instance, the word "hereby" must refer to the means specified in the previous sentence. I agree with Tran that the word is often misused, but when used correctly, it is a useful word. Furthermore, William Shakespeare was using the word sometime around the year 1600 (although it meant "by this place" back then), so it most certainly was not invented in the 19th century.

Rommie
2. "Kindly" is not exactly incorrect, it is merely rude.

"Please leave" is polite.
"Kindly leave" is rude.

It's rude because it means "Leave in a kind manner", or "Leave, but be kind to me", or, more directly, "Do what I tell you, and don't get annoyed about it".

For example, "Would patrons kindly refrain from smoking?" is CORRECT. It is not a request, it is an instruction, a directive. No choice is offered, but to comply. The use of "would" in this circumstance is an attempt to make it more polite (using the conditional tense to make what would otherwise be an imperative tense sentence into a question), but nonetheless, despite the fact that it is phrased as a question, the sentence is still a command, not a request. The only acceptable answer to such a "question" is "yes". (However, it would be more honest and direct to simply say "Patrons may not smoke". That's what the subjunctive mood is for).

The corresponding statement "Would patrons PLEASE refrain from smoking" implies that patrons have a choice about it - that they can choose not to comply.

Not wrong, rude. Tran (correctly) points out that you wouldn't want to say this in a business letter, but the English language allows you to be rude, and there are times when you would want to do that on purpose. (Hopefully not on this forum, obviously).

Rommie
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8. "Per" is an English word. It's etymology is Latin, but it has been absorbed into English and is English now. You will find it in any English dictionary, including M-W online.

Genuine Latin words and phrases (such as et cetera) are always written in italics. The word "per" does not require italics because it is now accepted as an English word.

Rommie
Words like "hearby" may sound pretentious in certain contexts, but the practice of putting putting prepositions right after the words "here," "there," or "where" dates back more than a thousand years. German does this much more extensively, but words such as "wherewith" do *** date to the 19th century -- rather, they were in use before the 9th century. Please no armchair etymology when you're giving advice (and it's good advice, I would say) to non-native speakers.

David
No. 4, asap sounds too demanding. Don't you think so?
When I'm at work and like to show a little power infront of other people, I use "I NEED THAT ASAP." or "BRING THAT ASAP OR YOU'LL B FIRE."
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