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"Sir or Madam" vs "Madam or Sir" in formal letter

Discussion in 'Language & Culture' started by henning, Oct 8, 2018.

  1. henning

    henning Guest

    In a formal letter addressed to one or more unknown recipients, "Dear Sir or Madam" is the customary salutation. As a German native speaker, who is used to "Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren", writing "Sir" before "Madam" sounds impolite to my ear and I feel the urge to change the order. I know that I must never directly carry over conventional expressions from one language to another, but it makes me wonder:

    Are there any differences between "Dear Sir or Madam" and "Dear Madam or Sir"? In particular, would the latter sound more polite or rather come across as outlandish?

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