DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the correct way to type Rsvp on an invite: R.S.V.P. or Rsvp or RSVP?
GENTLE READER: Would you consider not typing any of them?
It is not only that Miss Manners doesn’t think it gracious to type invitations. And while R.s.v.p. is her first choice because it stands for a sentence, the French polite command, “Repondez s’il vous plait,” R.S.V.P. will also do.
But it is amazing how often this is disobeyed. Social scofflaws are more common and more brazen than ever. Gentle Readers report that confronting them no longer produces shame, but rather such insultingly dismissive replies as “I haven’t decided yet” or “Well, I’ll think about it.” (The response to that should be, “Well, it must be a busy time for you, so I’m afraid we’ll have to do without you” – followed by permanent exile from your guest list.)
The widespread rudeness of treating an invitation as if it were an unwanted sales pitch is not why Miss Manners is about to propose an alternative to using R.s.v.p. The rude will be rude anyway, and she does not reward them by abolishing the rules they flout. That would be like dealing with a crime wave by deciding that there is no use having a law against robbery if people are going to commit it anyway.
Miss Manners would like to repeat her long-standing plea that we stop using a foreign phrase and put the request in plain English. The traditional wording is “The favor of a reply is requested.” As a concession to anyone who can’t bear to give up the idea of foreign glamour, she would even overlook using the British spelling, “favour.”
But why not use “Please respond”? Is there anyone who doesn’t understand that?