I have finished week two of law school and wanted to something interested I learned. It’s not about how to plead cases or the property laws concerning foxes. Rather, it’s the simple phrase “Very truly yours.” We’ve been looking at client letters (letters a lawyer will send to a client informing him/her of the situation with recommendations). At the end of many of them is the phrase “Very truly yours.” While it went mostly unmentioned in class, I found it quite odd and it got me thinking…what is the history of this phrase? Is it a generational phrase?
Hearing “Very truly yours” reminds me of signing a letter XOXO. Also, what’s the deal with the very in there? Is truly yours not enough? I’m not just yours, I’m truly yours…no wait…VERY truly yours. Super duper yours.
Wikipedia says that it’s rarely used in the UK anymore because it can make one appear superior, however it is found in slang, such as “Yours truly.”
Yet someone else claims it was actually used by a subordinate: “Very truly yours, your humble servant. XOXO.” I might have embellished the end on that one.
One internet site rejects it because it’s used primarily by lawyers, claiming they write something cold-hearted and follow it up with a sickly sweet “very truly yours.” I will ignore this one. My heart is warm and loving, so there.
Of the young people I asked (2 people. Yes, I’m the best at taking accurate surveys), all found it odd and informal. I wonder if this comes from growing up with the internet. Chats are often concluded with informal phrases like “ttyl, laterz, brb, l8r, ttfn, bai, ____ has signed off.” These phrases make no mention of one person’s possession of another, they’re simply means of saying goodbye. All of my letters are sent via email, not the postal service. Half the time, I don’t even use valedictions. I wonder if using a means that lacks the personal touch of handwriting and where you frequently correspond with someone you’ve never seen contribute to one’s desire to refrain from any ending that might hint at something personal.
But what makes that ending seem so personal? I think it comes down to the word “yours.” Long ago, did people in love say to each other “I’m yours,” or is this a modern phrase? When did “yours” go from respect and admiration to love in the romantic sense?
How do you feel about “Very truly yours?” Is it respectful or is it too personal? Also, if you don’t mind, how old are you?
Very truly yours,