Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sometimes I astonish myself.

Now I had one of those moments today when you suddenly realise how little you understand yourself and how much you actually run on auto-pilot.

Well, maybe it would be better to say 'how little I understand myself' rather than you. Maybe I am just particularly un-mindful of these things, but somehow I think I am not alone when suffering auto- surprise. I mean really, there are some god-awful multiple billion of us Homo Sapien Sapiens crashing around down here, I can't be that unique.

Anyway, normally I finish my e-mails with 'cheers' thinking that it sounds cheery, is easier to spell than sincerely, less formal than yours truly (also kind of a pain to spell) and just all-round friendly sounding.

Then today, while writing, the penny finally dropped. We use this phrase as a toast, you know like a polite form of "down the hatch".

Now that's all find and dandy, except that I don't drink alcohol; for all sorts of reasons that would be boring to elucidate here. Most basically because I never wanted to. There's more, but that'll do.

Anyway, it struck me as odd that a teetotaller is signing off on e-mails with a toast, and I found it odd that I had never put the two together. I guess I read it somewhere and thought it had a nice tone....

Now I am not sure what to do....

Those of you who I e-mail can wait, watch and see....

Or you could offer suggestions.....

Maybe I should come up with something all my own, a unique sign off

or something Catalan,



I wonder what they said in Star Treck.

Maybe I'll close with 'Beam me up Scotty!'

It doesn't make much sense though.

Then again, neither does this post.



Anonymous said...

Understand your problem BUT
I kind of suspect you're being too narrow in your social/cultural interpretation.
Brits use it to say goodbye or thank you!!!
I use it for the very reasons you mention and then some - I find the use of the British "cheerio", which someone once suggest as better, reminds me too much of the cereal of that name, which I detest.
I amuse myself with the thought that, except on the rare occasion when I do take a drink of champagne, I usually toast with mineral water or fruit juice and if that's unacceptable, then so be it.
Can't say my French friends have protested or diplomatically tried to make me see the error of my ways.
I don't doubt they would if that were the case.
I've been taught French table manners very discreetly in the early years of our friendship.
They do it with humour but very persuasively!
HOWEVER,we are all getting much more liberal about all kinds of social norms and manners and accept lots that was unthinkable in the 60s, even 70s.
I'll never forget a visit with a very aristocratic familyin the early years of my life in West Berlin.
They were of the highest social order and absolutely, irrevocably high-class (but post WW2, of normal middle-class income).
The hostess made a point of having several different, open packages of cigarettes on her coffee table and offering them to her guests. She never even blinked when one guest had the nerve/bad manners to refuse hers but light one of his own that he rolled with one hand and then used tiny little gold scissors to cut the ends off!
How did we know?
I still haven't figured it out.
But I do suspect that it was a deliberate putdown on the guest's part.
To this day I marvel at how we "survived".
I giggle just thinking that today she'd be in the wrong to even have cigarettes on the table!
Now that was an excursion into the past, but I'll share it with you, nevertheless.GM

Beth said...

I Googled it.
"It wasn't until 1919 that "cheers" was used as a salutation before a drink." It goes waaay back as a word of greeting, etc.
We're okay to use "cheers" when signing off!

Steve said...

I say reclaim the word "Cheers" from those that consume alcohol. Besides, you can have a toast without alcohol--I've had many while drinking water or club soda.

elPadawan said...

hmm... when I was in France, the only "forbidden liquid" for toasts was water. You can toast with soda and juices. Just... not water :). Perhaps because a toast has to be a bit of a celebration, and water is just too ordinary for that ;).

But in the meantime, if you really feel uncomfortable using "cheers" at the end of your emails, you can use "Take care", or "see you", or you can invent one of your own, and be "the weirdo that signs off e-mails with 'zgruten'" from now on, for ever and ever. ;)


"cheers" :D

Helen said...

I use cheers too, written and in speech, and it really has a much wider meaning than just a toast so go on using it I say.

And have a cheerful new year as well

oreneta said...

GM, I'm with you, Cheerio sounds silly if you grew up with the cereal, or at least without people using it...I'm glad you reminded me that cheers is also a greeting in the UK

Beth, I think that you have a future academia...I am so impressed.

Steve! Thanks for coming by! I'm with you, we should launch a linguistic reclamation project (I seem to have a future in beurocratic PR with that name!) Nonetheless (maybe a law career?) I agree with you.

Elpadawn, Thanks for coming by! I'll head over to your blog when I get back from the parent meeting at the school tonight....poor water, it just isn't good enough. ;-)

Helen, I like cheers, it seems so, well, so cheery!

Cheers and zgruten all!

Nomad said...

Cheers also means Hip-Hip-Hooray!!... and it was a TV show, granted about a bar...and yes perhaps it has dubious beginnings it has, like all the words on our English language, morphed from some other beginning into something else. Personally I like it, it is "cheery", "cheerful", and brings "good cheer", upbeat and appropriate in almost all situations!


Anonymous said...

I think it is okay to use 'cheers' and it doesn't conjure up thought of alcohol to me. I have received emails from a friend and she ends them 'Fondly...'. I like that one, and have started using it, but it may be a little mushy for some people.

Anonymous said...

I think Cheers is a fine salutation. I never really thought of it as a drinking salutation but I guess it is now that you brought it up. When you say Cheers you basically saying have a great day or something positive.

My 'mentor' at work always has Have a Great Day as his salutation. I usually have Sincerely or Thanks.