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Debrett's Etiquette on ink colours



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From Debrett's New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners, by John Morgan:

 

Black remains the most correct and distinguished choice. Blue is very much in second place and is thought more suitable for women than for men. Blue-black is only appropriate for schoolboys. Coloured inks, although more acceptable than before, are still considered very suspect in traditional circles.

 

Interesting, huh? :rolleyes:

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From Debrett's New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners, by John Morgan:

 

Black remains the most correct and distinguished choice. Blue is very much in second place and is thought more suitable for women than for men. Blue-black is only appropriate for schoolboys. Coloured inks, although more acceptable than before, are still considered very suspect in traditional circles.

 

Interesting, huh? :rolleyes:

[raising my hand] I freely admit to be 'suspect' whenever possible!

"Baldrick, you wouldn't recognise a cunning plan if it painted itself purple and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing 'Cunning plans are here again'"

 

Twitter: @CasmiUK

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Does anyone know where people get this sort of stuff from? Always seemed like some wanna-be's attempts to codify their personal preferences.

 

Cranes used to make a big deal out of it in their Résumé papers --- probably still do, but I've never seen one tossed 'cause of the paper (though I've always advocated binning the ones w/ typos).

 

William

 

 

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Now imagine how the world would be if those "traditional circles" would be the only driving force. We would still build Pyramids and worship Egyptian gods. :rolleyes:

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Blue-black is only appropriate for schoolboys.
It's that comment on blue-black that most surprises me. Debrett's is a solid publisher, so they wouldn't just have made that up. Is the view that BBk is juvenile a British perspective? Is it also an American perspective that I just haven't noticed? I don't think my usage will be affected by this etiquette guide, but I am interested....

 

JN

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Not sure about blue-black - could it be something like it was originally the colour supplied for schools? However in my school we used washable blue. I don't know where the theory came from however one of the advisers for the book is Smythson - who do not sell blue-black ink. Coincidence?

 

The book is excellent in some respects, for example, should I ever have the opportunity to dine with the Queen it will be my first reference. But I find prescribing ink colours is hardly necessary. Is it even etiquette? Would anyone be truly offended to receive a letter written in brown ink?

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Not sure about blue-black - could it be something like it was originally the colour supplied for schools? However in my school we used washable blue. I don't know where the theory came from however one of the advisers for the book is Smythson - who do not sell blue-black ink. Coincidence?

:hmm1: I think you have just solved the mystery.

 

Now I need to go outside and breathe. After reading that "advice" it suddenly got very stuffy in here.

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Can't some public-spirited person lift a manhole cover and drop John Morgan down the hole? I don't care for being called a suspect schoolboy.

Edited by Huffward

"Once you have absolved people of the consequences of their own folly, you will have populated the world with fools." (Herbert Spenser)

 

Chris Shepheard

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From Debrett's New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners, by John Morgan:

 

Black remains the most correct and distinguished choice. Blue is very much in second place and is thought more suitable for women than for men. Blue-black is only appropriate for schoolboys. Coloured inks, although more acceptable than before, are still considered very suspect in traditional circles.

 

Interesting, huh? :rolleyes:

 

Let's have some fun pulling Debrett's apart. (I do hope you've quoted them verbatim).

 

"Black remains the most correct and distinguished choice." Correct is an absolute. One thing cannot be more correct than another.

"Blue is very much in second place and is thought more suitable for women than for men." Very much: a meaningless intensifier: poor style.

"Blue-black is only appropriate for schoolboys." A terrible grammar gaffe. The writer means: "Blue-black is appropriate only for schoolboys" or "Blue-black is appropriate for schoolboys only".

 

So blue-black ink might be the schoolboy standard, but so is Debrett's grammar and style. Dear me! What sort of school could the writer possibly have gone to?

Edited by Huffward

"Once you have absolved people of the consequences of their own folly, you will have populated the world with fools." (Herbert Spenser)

 

Chris Shepheard

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Not sure about blue-black - could it be something like it was originally the colour supplied for schools? However in my school we used washable blue. I don't know where the theory came from however one of the advisers for the book is Smythson - who do not sell blue-black ink. Coincidence?

 

No, I don't think it's a coincidence, more of a mindless circle. Consider this:

 

The 'best' people don't use blue-black unless they're schoolboys.

Therefore Smythsons, the 'best' people's stationer, doesn't sell blue-black, for fear if outraging its customers.

Therefore, the prejudice against blue-black is ingrained in Smythsons customers (who, being Debrett's readers, can't think for themselves).

Therefore, the 'best' people don't use blue-black unless they're schoolboys.

 

 

 

 

"Once you have absolved people of the consequences of their own folly, you will have populated the world with fools." (Herbert Spenser)

 

Chris Shepheard

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Oh MY!! I never realized what a Rebel I was!!! :embarrassed_smile: I better pick up a copy today to mend my ways! :thumbup: I see it even has the information I need on how to handle my Domestic Staff! :roflmho:

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Oh MY!! I never realized what a Rebel I was!!! :embarrassed_smile: I better pick up a copy today to mend my ways! :thumbup: I see it even has the information I need on how to handle my Domestic Staff! :roflmho:

 

I'm surprised they don't still call them servants. Do I detect a subversive proletarian influence polluting the rarified air at Debrett's?

Edited by Huffward

"Once you have absolved people of the consequences of their own folly, you will have populated the world with fools." (Herbert Spenser)

 

Chris Shepheard

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Don't worry, they are still called servants.

 

Today's domestic servants are more likely to view their roles as part of their career path and not a way of life... Modern servants are also more lilely to enjoy a more - but never totally - equal relationship with their employers.

 

But let's not completely dismiss the advice - fountain pens are recommended above pencils and felt-tip pens! :roflmho:

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Very interesting thread, indeed. I was just thinking about this topic yesterday, after having read a passage (whose source escapes me) that formal correspondence should be in black or blue-black ink. To some extent, this color etiquette is still true in many fields - business and law, for example. This is the first time I've seen blue-black being for schoolboys only, though. And I primarily use blue ink - not only do I like the color, but it makes originals stand out from copies. Sounds rather feminine, doesn't it. ;)

 

I think that in this day and age where correspondence has been largely relegated to the scope of emails in Times New Roman and Arial, sending hand-written correspondence is all the more important and meaningful. I'm sure the recipient would appreciate the sender's personal attention and effort, regardless of the ink color used.

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I think that in this day and age where correspondence has been largely relegated to the scope of emails in Times New Roman and Arial, sending hand-written correspondence is all the more important and meaningful. I'm sure the recipient would appreciate the sender's personal attention and effort, regardless of the ink color used.

 

Absolutely right!

"Once you have absolved people of the consequences of their own folly, you will have populated the world with fools." (Herbert Spenser)

 

Chris Shepheard

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But let's not completely dismiss the advice - fountain pens are recommended above pencils and felt-tip pens! :roflmho:

 

Probably because a fountain pen is less likely to have been touched by one of the lower orders.

"Once you have absolved people of the consequences of their own folly, you will have populated the world with fools." (Herbert Spenser)

 

Chris Shepheard

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Now imagine how the world would be if those "traditional circles" would be the only driving force. We would still build Pyramids and worship Egyptian gods. :rolleyes:

 

And what's wrong with that, hmm? :) I can think of worse things for a society to do than build monuments that will last thousands of years. And as gods go, the Egyptian ones were fairly interesting and relatively harmless (unless you happened to be a bird or a cat raised for ceremonial mummification). :D

 

Let's have some fun pulling Debrett's apart. (I do hope you've quoted them verbatim).

 

"Black remains the most correct and distinguished choice." Correct is an absolute. One thing cannot be more correct than another.

"Blue is very much in second place and is thought more suitable for women than for men." Very much: a meaningless intensifier: poor style.

"Blue-black is only appropriate for schoolboys." A terrible grammar gaffe. The writer means: "Blue-black is appropriate only for schoolboys" or "Blue-black is appropriate for schoolboys only".

 

So blue-black ink might be the schoolboy standard, but so is Debrett's grammar and style. Dear me! What sort of school could the writer possibly have gone to?

 

While I agree with the general sentiment, you've opened a certain door by correcting the author's grammar, and I can't resist. :) In the order of appearance in your original post:

 

The pronoun "him" should have been used when referring to the author in question. "Them" is a plural pronoun.

 

Correct can be comparative, it is not only an absolute. When used to indicate degree of conformity with a conventional standard, comparative use is almost unavoidable. A comparative is also acceptable when the word is used to indicate that something is in accordance with truth or fact, as it is quite possible for two statements to be truthful or factual to differing degrees even if neither is false.

 

Your evaluation of style, regarding the use of "very much," is not the only judgment of that particular style which may be made, nor is it the only "accepted" school of thought. Further, this is precisely the sort of criticism for which you have castigated the original author, and thus is itself in poor taste or poor style when part of a critique of another's attempt to enforce rules of style or etiquette.

 

Finally, you end your critique with a dangling participle. You should have written, "To what sort of school could the writer possibly have gone?" Further, this construction is needlessly unwieldy and colloquial, and the use of the definite article is not entirely appropriate. A more correct or more stylistically palatable question would have been, "What sort of school could this writer possibly have attended?"

 

Ordinarily, I'd resist the temptation to correct another's grammar. But when you levy a grammatically incorrect grammatical correction, you leave yourself open to attack by English majors. :D We're like piranhas, when we smell blood in the water... or lampreys, or leeches, or something. :lol:

Edited by Djehuty
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Now imagine how the world would be if those "traditional circles" would be the only driving force. We would still build Pyramids and worship Egyptian gods. :rolleyes:

 

And what's wrong with that, hmm? :) I can think of worse things for a society to do than build monuments that will last thousands of years. And as gods go, the Egyptian ones were fairly interesting and relatively harmless (unless you happened to be a bird or a cat raised for ceremonial mummification). :D

 

I well knew the keeper of ancient gods would react dutifully :lol:

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