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I have booked a table for a rather expensive, high level restaurant and received the following reply:

Ciao my first name,

con piacere ti comunico che la tua prenotazione del dd/mm/yyyy alle hh:mm è stata accettata!

I am not at all offended, but perhaps rather a bit surprised or baffled, as I would not have expected to be addressed in such an informal way in this setting. Are Italians also moving more and more away from the formal way of addressing each other, just as I experience and notice in many other European countries at the moment?

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  • In my experience, I've seen workplaces where communication between colleagues who are peers (say, who either have the same mansion or have all the same title) is quite informal, although that had been made explicit. You should expect formal communication between a more qualified superior and a subordinate, or between an external collaborator and the client.
    – Gae. S.
    Jul 5 at 13:24
  • As for the restaurant's reply, I don't go to many fancy places, but I would expect that it depends on how their booking platform works, and there can be some lenience in that because you don't expect the reply to be written by a human. That being said, it isn't rocket science: airplane companies all over the world have been putting Ms., Mr., Mrs., YRH since forever.
    – Gae. S.
    Jul 5 at 13:27
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    Yes, the use of tu and, when known, of first names even among strangers and on formalish settings seems to me to be on the rise, even though with some oscillations. It's not infrequent to see a website or an automated message that mixes tu and lei.
    – DaG
    Jul 5 at 17:51
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    I don't understand the downvotes: questions regarding the correct usage of lei form are fully on topic for this site (language is not only grammar!)
    – Denis Nardin
    Jul 5 at 21:44
  • It became pretty common, especially in automated replies, to see the use of "tu" instead of "lei". It is a marketing expedient used to make the answer sound more personal/tailor made, as if it were written by an actual person rather than by an autoresponder. It can make sense for some audience but, as your question clearly demonstrates, it is not always appropriate. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses just blindly apply "marketing mantras" without any consideration about the target audience to whom they need to communicate.
    – secan
    Jul 8 at 15:13

1 Answer 1

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I don't like this style either, but it seems to be more and more widespread.

In fact many of my friends and acquaintances react very badly when addressed with the lei form in such a setting, usually with comments of the form "I'm not old, why are you talking to me like that". It seems that the respectful forms are associated with my parents' generation and seen as almost offensive by many people of my generation (I'm 34).

As I said, I disagree with this reasoning, but it seems to be the situation at the moment nonetheless. When in doubt, I always advise to use the lei form though, since it's the least likely to cause serious offense.

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    I grew up in Norway, where we strictly speaking have a form of formal address, but it was already falling out of common use in the 70ies around the time I was born. I then moved to Germany where the distinction between formal and informal speech is very much still present, but also there falling out of use and also regionally very differently applied. I must admit that I understand your friends very well. I have gotten used to it in Germany, but still, being addressed formally also for me primarly kicks in the 'am I that old?' feeling :-)
    – jarnbjo
    Jul 6 at 11:37

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