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To whom it may concern
In response to the episode segment this is what I do in this case.
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2014/02/28
4:59pm
Glenn
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I don’t use “To Whom It May Concern” as a salutation. If I were to use it as a salutation I would write “To whom it may concern.” If I know only the organization or business, I write “[Dear] org/bus representative”. (e.g. Dear Red Cross representative; Dear Kiva.org representative; Amazon.com representative). If I want to express the thought of “to whom it may concern” I use “to all concerned.” As a salutation, I capitalize only the first letters that would be capitalized in plain text: the first letter and proper nouns and titles.

So my generic reference letters start:
“To all concerned,”

That is my own, personal style.

2014/02/28
7:11pm
Robert
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 It’s a surprise to me that the capitalized version goes so high in this Ngram.   Maybe a lot of it are titles or headlines.

Would you link the episode.

Now ‘To all concerned’ sounds a bit like some kind of edict from high authority.  Just me.

2014/04/07
3:38pm
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I just go with “Greetings:”. (I guess only the older generations would think of the Draft.)

2014/04/07
3:51pm
tromboniator
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That one started with “Greeting”. I ignored it.

2014/04/07
8:52pm
RobertB
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Did you get one in lower case?  The upper case looks a little harder to ignore.  One GREETING: from one (Sam) to one about one BIG business.

 (There are many picts.  I don’t know if it’s illegal to post or just my iPad.)

2014/04/07
11:11pm
tromboniator
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Initial cap? All upper case? Not sure I noticed.

2014/04/08
6:16am
deaconB
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When there is a well-established phrase, I’m loathe to change it unless its patently offensive.

When one says, “Winston tastes good AS a cigarette should, the reader pays attention to the grammar and the arrogance of the writer, and completely ignores  anything that’s being said about cigarettes, taste, and Winstons. If readers are going to miss the pint,why bother writing anything at all?

2014/04/08
6:37am
RobertB
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tromboniator said
Initial cap? All upper case? Not sure I noticed.

Here‘s one.  It’s not me though!

2014/04/08
10:50am
Glenn
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Wow. That is some greeting. It looks like the word “GREETING” was intended as a placeholder for a personalized salutation, but that such personalization never was implemented. On second look, could it mean that GREETING is the label for the section in which they tell you where and when to report, with the IMPORTANT NOTICE section being the meat of the letter?

I find it hard to believe that the word GREETING was intended to be the actual greeting! But then, it is a government document.

2014/04/08
12:53pm
tromboniator
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deaconB said
When there is a well-established phrase, I’m loathe to change it unless its patently offensive.

When one says, “Winston tastes good AS a cigarette should, the reader pays attention to the grammar and the arrogance of the writer, and completely ignores  anything that’s being said about cigarettes, taste, and Winstons. If readers are going to miss the pint,why bother writing anything at all?

C’mon, it’s not arrogance to think that language sounds wrong when it isn’t formed as we were taught –  excuse me, like we were taught. I don’t know how common the use of like was at the time those ads came out, but it certainly wasn’t much in evidence where I came from, and the form of that phrase did exactly what it was supposed to: got in(to) our faces and stuck in our brains because it clashed with the norm. Where you hear arrogance on one side, I hear boorishness on the other. I still cringe when I hear someone say something like, “I went to the coffee shop, like always.”, but I try not to let I show. Having learned something in the past few years about the variety and impermanence of usage and meaning, I’ve put my high horse out to pasture.

2014/04/09
1:44am
deaconB
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tromboniator said

deaconB said
When there is a well-established phrase, I’m loathe to change it unless its patently offensive.

When one says, “Winston tastes good AS a cigarette should, the reader pays attention to the grammar and the arrogance of the writer, and completely ignores  anything that’s being said about cigarettes, taste, and Winstons. If readers are going to miss the pint,why bother writing anything at all?

C’mon, it’s not arrogance to think that language sounds wrong when it isn’t formed as we were taught –  excuse me, like we were taught.

“To whom it may concern” has been THE accepted phrase used in writing to a person whose name we don’t know since before the typewriter was invented.  If you were taught something else, you are incredibly old.

I don’t know how common the use of like was at the time those ads came out, but it certainly wasn’t much in evidence where I came from, and the form of that phrase did exactly what it was supposed to: got in(to) our faces and stuck in our brains because it clashed with the norm.

If you have a time machine, and want to write something prior to 1954, it certainly would be more acceptable to write”tastes good as a cigarette should”. On the other hand, when I write something today, I’m dealing with a culture that had Winston as one of the biggest advertisers before the government banned those ads in the 1970s – and “tastes good as a cigarette should” sounds right to most people from so much repetition.Hey asshole” may be more accurate than saying “Dear Mr, Doe” but that novel salutation guarantees your letter will be ineffective.

Similarly, if one writes a letter of recommendation that starts out with something other than “to whom it may concern, one raises a read flag in the mind of the recipient.  If you are unaware of the customs of our society, or even worse, you are deliberately ignoring them, why should they give your opinion any consideration?  It’s like wearing a dark suit with a red tie to a business meeting.  It doesn’t make your opinions any more valid, but as Mark Twain pointed out, naked people have little or no influence on society.

I still cringe when I hear someone say something like, “I went to the coffee shop, like always.”, but I try not to let I shows

And I try to conceal my horror when someone pronounced “teat” as “teet”, “vistual” a “vick-you-wool” or harassment as “Harris mint”.  But if you’d rather be right than be president, you need not put ink to paper for that.  If a letter needs to do something,  people need to pay attention to the body, rather than to the boilerplate.

2014/04/09
3:36am
Ron Draney
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deaconB said

If you have a time machine, and want to write something prior to 1954, it certainly would be more acceptable to write”tastes good as a cigarette should”. On the other hand, when I write something today, I’m dealing with a culture that had Winston as one of the biggest advertisers before the government banned those ads in the 1970s – and “tastes good as a cigarette should” sounds right to most people from so much repetition.Hey asshole” may be more accurate than saying “Dear Mr, Doe” but that novel salutation guarantees your letter will be ineffective.

Similarly, if one writes a letter of recommendation that starts out with something other than “to whom it may concern, one raises a read flag in the mind of the recipient.  If you are unaware of the customs of our society, or even worse, you are deliberately ignoring them, why should they give your opinion any consideration?  It’s like wearing a dark suit with a red tie to a business meeting.  It doesn’t make your opinions any more valid, but as Mark Twain pointed out, naked people have little or no influence on society.

I’m now remembering a cartoon from back in the late ’60s or early ’70s that showed a speaker at the lectern saying “Good evening, gentlemen and ladies”. Every member of his audience had a different thought-bubble in response to the unconventional word-order, from “feminist” to “chauvinist” to “smart aleck” to “innovator”.

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