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Off topic: Using someone's name when addressing them in an email
Thread poster: Lucinda
Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:25
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Apr 19, 2008

Am I too sensitive?

I have just received an email from an agency wanting to have me translate something for them. They had seen from my profile that I handled that languge combination and this area of expertise.

However, they started the email: Dear translator ...

If they found my profile with that information at Proz, they surely saw my name, that is my last name or at least my first name.

Should I expect them to say Dear [first name] or [last name].

Dear translator sounds so like a mass mailing. I almost deleted it before reading it. Am I too sensitive to expect to be called by name?

I am not sure is this if really 'off topic,' if not, could someone please guide me to the correct forum? Thank you so much.

Have a great day!

Lucinda


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Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:25
English to Slovak
+ ...
Happened to me just yesterday! Apr 19, 2008

Hi Lucinda,

I'm glad you brought it up as it happened to me yesterday.
I've been exchanging e-mails with an agency about telephone interpreting for about a week now. We've finally agreed on all terms and conditions and decided to schedule "orientation session" for next week.
I was rather upset/disappointed, when I received an e-mail from the trainer with available days and times which was exactly as yours: beginning with "Dear interpreter" and finished with "Regards" [no name].
Are we too sensitive? I don't know, but I'm having second thoughts about working with them. I'm used to work with my agencies on more personal level.

Rad

[Edited at 2008-04-19 14:28]


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:25
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...

MODERATOR
Of course, it was a mass mailing Apr 19, 2008

Or at least a standard message that they keep somewhere and send each time they need something. But this is not the worst case. I sometimes (and not so rarely!) get messages through my profile starting with "Dear Sir"

Be that as it may, but all this is the evidence of the lack of professionalism.

Natalia


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:25
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
same here Apr 19, 2008

I also often receive such emails and wonder if it is a big job to enter my name?

I really would like to answer with "dear agency" but up to now I hesitated to put me onto the same level....


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:25
German to English
+ ...
Mail and the masses Apr 19, 2008

Lucinda wrote:

Dear translator sounds so like a mass mailing. I almost deleted it before reading it. Am I too sensitive to expect to be called by name?

I am not sure is this if really 'off topic,' if not, could someone please guide me to the correct forum? Thank you so much.

Lucinda


Yep - especially when you noticed that they have addressed it to themselves and presumably blind copied the world...

I recently translated an article about 'Netiquette' for a company magazine. Shame I can't publish it; it was quite sensibly written.

What also annoys me is when people can't even be bothered to add a full signature to their mails.

Regards,
Translator person


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 21:25
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
There are ways.... Apr 19, 2008

for an outsourcer not to be chosen by a translator.

With us, one of the better ones is to send a mass mail to us.

That is valid indicator to say "No thank you".

Mats


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 14:25
Spanish
+ ...
Not necessarily Apr 19, 2008

I've worked in several large projects that involved a team of translators (sometimes dozens of translators). In those cases, the the PM usually has to "mass" email all the potential translators and eventually the selected translators. Of course I'm referring to a very specific scenario here. However, there are so many signs that suggest an agency is not professional enough, that a mere "Dear translator," doesn't do anything for me. So to answer your question, yes, I think you are being over-sensitive.

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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
The flip side Apr 19, 2008

My pet peeve sort of goes the other way from the gist of this topic. I hate it when I receive an email from some agency or outsourcer, who I don’t know from diddlysquat, and it starts, “Hi John!” (The exclamation mark really bugs me.)

I have no problem receiving a “Hi John” message from someone who I know or with whom I’ve had prior contact, but I find it hard to take seriously a first-time message from a complete stranger addressing me as if we were old friends. In cases like that, I’d almost prefer a non-personal “Dear Translator” message.

The clients who inspire my confidence are those who write a well composed email preferably addressed to me with a “Dear John” salutation and with a serious formal approach. So, perhaps in that case Lucinda we do have the same basic desire in common: I like to see my name (but with a formal “Dear”) at the start of an email too.


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
It depends.. Apr 19, 2008

Lucinda wrote:

Am I too sensitive?

I remember a great movie with Vinnie Jones where he takes some employees hostage and one man asks him timidly "How may we call you, Mr...?" and Vinnie replies "You may call me Suzie as long as you'll do what I say!"



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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:25
Portuguese to English
+ ...
It may be a cultural thing... Apr 20, 2008

John Cutler wrote:

My pet peeve sort of goes the other way from the gist of this topic. I hate it when I receive an email from some agency or outsourcer, who I don’t know from diddlysquat, and it starts, “Hi John!” (The exclamation mark really bugs me.)



Hi John!!
I lived in Brazil for a long time and every e-mail I ever got from a translation company or client addressed me by my first name. In Brazil that's definitely a cultural thing...you can have friends there you've known for years and never know their last names! Personally, I really enjoy the informal approach, but that's just me...

Amy


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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:25
English to Polish
Not everyone uses a coma Apr 20, 2008

John Cutler wrote:

it starts, “Hi John!” (The exclamation mark really bugs me.)


If you get an email from a Polish agency, don't get bugged In Polish an exclamation mark is used in such cases, unlike in English.

As for the subject matter - there are some cases that no-name is acceptable (eg. an agency sends the same email to 10 translators of 10 languages, because the project needs to be translated to 10 languages - it saves their time to do it that way and I understand that). "Dear Friends" is ok in such case for me.

But a mass mail? That means this person/agency didn't choose me - or anyone else - for their professional "attractiveness", but for language pair and most likely will pick up the cheapest translator. I just ignore such things.


Anni


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I see no problem with it, and more answers... Apr 20, 2008

Lucinda wrote:
I have just received an email from an agency wanting to have me translate something for them. They had seen from my profile that I handled that languge combination and this area of expertise.

However, they started the email: Dear translator...


The salutation is just an indication that they sent the same e-mail to many other people as well. There is no cause of offence. However, I think it would be fair of them to indicate in some other ways that the mail was a generic mail and not one sent to you specifically.

But your reaction is interesting to me. If someone were to write me an e-mail and use both my name and surname in the salutation, I'd be cautious immediately (but probably without reason because even though it is clear to me which is my name and which is my surname, it may not be obvious to someone else).

Would you have preferred "Dear Sir/Madam" instead of "Dear Translator"? Personally I associate "Dear Translator" with a newsletter or an advertisement and not with a personal or business letter (even if the letter is generic and sent to hundreds of other people as well).

When I sent e-mails to translators from ProZ.com, I include the name and surname in the salutation, but I also use words to imply that the message is generic. I toyed with not using people's names, because it might look like the sender had used spam software if the e-mail contains both name and surname in the salutation, don't you agree?

Another option is to send the mail to yourself and include the recipient in the BCC, and then write "Hello everyone!", which indicates clearly that the message was sent to many people. But then there is the change that some people might think the message is not urgent or not specifically relevant to them.

What would you suggest?

Textklick wrote:
Yep - especially when you noticed that they have addressed it to themselves and presumably blind copied the world...

I recently translated an article about 'Netiquette' for a company magazine...


Are you saying it is bad netiquette to put your own address in the TO field and put everyone else in BCC? Personally I think having the sender's address in the TO field look much prettier than having something like "Undisclosed recipient" in it. But... what alternative would you suggest to a mass mailing in which the sender wants to respect the privacy of the recipients?



[Edited at 2008-04-20 08:34]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Switch to first names after one or two mails Apr 20, 2008

John Cutler wrote:
I have no problem receiving a “Hi John” message from someone who I know or with whom I’ve had prior contact, but I find it hard to take seriously a first-time message from a complete stranger addressing me as if we were old friends. In cases like that, I’d almost prefer a non-personal “Dear Translator” message.


Well, I can't say that I 'hate' it but it does strike me as somewhat unprofessional to be so informal. On the other hand, I realise that different cultures do things differently, and it would be petty to take offence about such things (it would be more reasonable to be offended by things like inconsiderateness, blatant accusations, etc.

When I respond to a query from an agency, I use the person's surname for an exchange or two, and if they start using my first name, then I start using theirs.

One interesting thing I found from two agencies (both from India, actually) was that the agency guy signed his mail using a single name (no surname, no indication of sex, no title). I continued using that name as if it were a first name, and much, much later I discovered that it was in fact the person's surname (and even then I had no idea whether it was Mr so-and-so or Mrs so-and-so). I find it very strange that people would sign their mails using just their surname, but it may be cultural thing, and I'm not offended by it (as long as the other person don't expect me to know instictively that it is a surname and that I should correctly deduce their sex from it).

It does irk me, however, if people address me by my surname, without using a title. To my ear, it sounds rude. Addressing someone by their surname only is something you'd expect a military commander to do when addressing one of his troops, or a school principal when addressing one of his boys. Still, one shouldn't take offence at such details.

[Edited at 2008-04-20 08:46]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 22:25
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Its hard to satisfy all Apr 20, 2008

On the long run it is less dangerous to use first names, because then you can avoid the selection of mr/ms. For foreigners it is quite impossible to decide, if Pirkka is a man or a woman. Even Finns cannot always tell this from Estonian first names. And with Chinese its quite out of the question.
But this is restricted to English conversation, in German or French or Russian etc. you cannot communicate without knowing the gender of the recipient.
Cheers
Heinrich


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Kathryn Litherland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:25
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
is it really that more personal? Apr 20, 2008

Rad Graban wrote:


I've been exchanging e-mails with an agency about telephone interpreting for about a week now. We've finally agreed on all terms and conditions and decided to schedule "orientation session" for next week.
I was rather upset/disappointed, when I received an e-mail from the trainer with available days and times which was exactly as yours: beginning with "Dear interpreter" and finished with "Regards" [no name].


If the trainer is sending out the same e-mail to several people all at once, is it really all that more indicative of a personal relationship if he or she had pasted in the identical e-mails and typed in your individual name in the salutation? I used to work as a managing editor, which I imagine is similar in a lot of ways to the sorts of work done by PMs at translation agencies, and a lot of the "personalized" e-mails that I send out were computer-generated anyhow--they were not so much an indication of my personal interest in or having a relationship with the recipient, as they were an indication that I knew how to build a nifty relational database and integrate it in with Microsoft Word!

I've got no "personal" beef with mass mailings. There are times when they are appropriate.


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