Friday, March 03, 2006


Back in December, I got an e-mail that said something like this.

Dear Marie,
You don't know me, but I know plenty about you due to your rather bizarre habit of posting your innermost thoughts on a public forum. Sorry that you have to dog-sit Murphy this weekend. I understand that you are heading to Kuwait soon. I was there not too long ago and here are some tips for you.
/eSwede, Stockholm

Okay, he didn't use eSwede. He used his real name. But you get the point.

A couple of months went by, and we exchanged plenty more e-mails. After a while, we quit signing our names.

Then, a few days ago, I got a note from Travel Writer P. Seems Travel Writer P—an Australian living in London—had just gotten a note from Travel Writer D, an American who lives in Stockholm. Travel Writer D had signed his e-mail like this:
/Travel Writer D

"What's that, D? Why do you use the slash?"

Travel Writer D, I imagine, said something like "it's what Swedes do. Isn't it cool?"

So Travel Writer P—knowing of the eSwede due to some obscure music thing they have in common—asked me "Does the eSwede do this?"

I wasn't sure. I'd been in a self-absorbed state of wallowing when he'd first e-mailed me and had barely noticed that a single 38-year-old Swedish man was e-mailing me, much less that he used a slash when signing his name. But I went back and had a look and yep, he signed it /eSwede.

I e-mailed the eSwede immediately.

"What's going on? Is this a Swedish thing?"

His response:

It's certainly the way
to end your messages here, and it does carry a number of advantages.

1. It's short. But still signifies an end - as in
2. It's language neutral - always a good thing.
3. It's kind of cool, in a being busy, sending telegram kind of way.

It is kind of cool. I like it. Travel Writers P and D are campaigning to introduce it to their correspondents. I am going to do this too.


Steve Buccellato said...

Huh. Not sure how I feel about the slash thing. I guess it is quick and neutral, if completely impersonal. I must say that I sometimes feel lame signing an email with the generic:


I feel lame because this, too, is impersonal. Especially as I've signed this way about a million times. The slash seems very practical for quick emails that are not supposed to be personal.

I don't know why you think it's "cool," though.


Jared said...

I've often used the "em dash" —Jared

Sara Kocher said...

Well, cool in a slightly geeky "I used to hand code my web site back in the early '90s" kind of way.

It's like the < rant > < /rant > thing you see every now and then.

Although now that I've semi-criticized it, I have to admit I sort of like it. But then I'm kind of geeky, too.


had to add weird spaces to the "rant" example to get blogger to take it

Marie said...

Uh, I used to hand code my sites in the 90s...

Jared said...

Wow you guys just invented a new eupahmism for female masturbation, "Yeah, she hand codes her site".

Marie said...

Jared, are you trying to get me banned in Kuwait?

Steve Buccellato said...

I think the new euphemism is cooler than the whole / thing. Nice job, people!

actually, as I typed this, I thought of something much reder, but I'll keep that one to myself...

Steve Buccellato said...

I mean "ruder"

David Wohl said...

So saying "This is David Wohl signing off" is now uncool?

Marie said...

No, that's still cool.

David Wohl said...


Barb in Hobart said...

Hi Marie,

I skipped to your blog via Peter Moore's site; this is the only way I can afford to travel right now!

As I'm on the other side of the world.. \Barb