In German, it is very common to abbreviate letter closings. For example,

Mit freundlichen Grüßen --> MFG

Liebe Grüße --> LG

While these abbreviations are not acceptable in formal communication, they are freely used for emails even in a professional context, and of course in text messages and chats.

The only equivalent abbreviation I could find in English is (see here)

Very Respectfully / Virtual Regards --> V/R

However, I have never seen V/R used in any communication that I received. It seems to be mainly used in the military.

I'm surprised that abbreviations such as K/R (Kind Regards) or B/W (Best Wishes) have not become popular in English (except apparently as internet slang), while abbreviations such as c/o, ASAP or RSVP are very common. Can anyone shine light on this issue? Have you ever thought about abbreviating letter closings? In my experience, if a German native speaker used K/R in English, native English speakers would get quite confused.

closed as primarily opinion-based by anongoodnurse, Fraser Orr, user66974, Edwin Ashworth, Chenmunka Oct 11 '14 at 17:34

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  • 2
    BR is often used for ‘best regards’, and xox(o) for ‘hugs and kisses’, etc. Apart from that, you can simply use ‘Best’, which is only four letters and thus hardly worth abbreviating. That said, absent a particular, strong, practical driving force in the opposite direction, it’s usually very difficult, if not impossible, to answer why something doesn’t happen or why some development hasn’t taken place in a given language. I suspect this will be such a case, since there is no strong driving force that I can think of preventing these abbreviations from being used. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 10 '14 at 19:14
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    Because if I'm taking the time to use a closing in an email, I'm likely going to put it in a signature and if I'm going through that process, I might as well type it out. Also, I if I'm composing an email to someone, I'd rather not have to do the extra work of explaining any non-mutually-understandable acronyms, especially if they are important parts of the message (to me, a closing is important.) – SrJoven Oct 10 '14 at 19:32
  • I agree "Best" is quite common, as is "I remain, etc" which is an abbreviation for the archaic very formal ending "I remain, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant", used at one time by servants and public officials when writing to those they served. I cannot find evidence for the following assertion, but I suspect that abbreviations are seen as inappropriate for salutations and partings because they imply a certain parsimony in the practice of a friendship; generally regarded as best executed freely and bounteously or not at all. – Dan Sheppard Oct 10 '14 at 21:54
  • Can't one impose or fix an automatic signature and closing on their e-mail correspondence? (Obviously I don't but I'm sure this can be done) In that case, the need to abbreviate (to save time) is removed. – Mari-Lou A Oct 11 '14 at 3:39
  • I was under the impression that "Best" is also considered to express a lack of sentiment in English? I had used it for many years, before going back to "Best wishes". I do use xx, but only in very informal settings (text messages, FB messages, emails to my wife). – painfulenglish Oct 11 '14 at 6:53

It's not a linguistic thing, but cultural. To substitute the actual words with an abbreviation suggests that the words are not a genuine sentiment. Reflective of the lack of sentiment, you reduced your words to an abbreviation.

As you say, it's not done, so the reader would, most likely, just not know what it means. But the reader could interpret the abbreviation: as a dismissive, as discourteous, as a reflection of laziness upon the author, as a suggestion that the content of the letter should not be taken in good faith, many things—none positive.

  • I agree. In German (I don't know about other languages), such abbreviations are very common but most people are also aware of the fact that it means something to make the extra effort and not use them. On the other hand, among close friends or colleagues, using LG is usually not at all considered to express a lack of sentiment. – painfulenglish Oct 11 '14 at 6:51

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