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When signing your name at the end of a letter, should you use the vocative case or the nominative case?

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    Writing one's own name in the vocative would seem really strange to me, like addressing oneself
    – user11274
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 12:27
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    you might close with the vocative if your name is Valus :)
    – d_e
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 12:51

1 Answer 1

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Nominative. The vocative is only used to directly address someone, and at the end of a letter you are not speaking to yourself.

One way to see this is to expand the signature to a sentence. It might be something like "This was Ben" or "Ben wishes good health". I can't conceive of a sentence that would fit and need a vocative.

In my Latin email correspondence, a common ending would be "Te bene valere iubet Ben". The Romans didn't close their letters with their names, and my approach combines the Roman way with the modern inclusion of the writer's name at the very end.

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  • Why do you use “jubet” rather than “jubeo” (where the name would be in apposition with the implicit “ego”)?
    – user11274
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 16:40
  • @Anserin It's just like my example "Ben wishes good health" (not "I, Ben, wish good health"). It is phrased in the third person, not the first, and it sounds more natural to me that way. If you read Caesar, it will be clear that such a phrasing was not alien to the Romans.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 18:36
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    @Anserin While the first person is found in some authors (Ammianus Marcellinus quotes a letter of Sapor which beings with Rex regum Sapor...salutem plurimam dico), it seems in the earlier eras the salutation isn't seen as a personal touch, but rather more like an address. I think even in modernity we do this unconsciously. "Sincerely, Ben" is third person, and there is no "I" involved.
    – cmw
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 18:40
  • @Anserin See also this thread.
    – cmw
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 18:44

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