Pretty much what it says in the title. S’il vous plait means please, so “Please RSVP” means “Please please respond”. However, I would guess most people don’t know that, or at least don’t think about it - so when using RSVP in English, is it really redundant to say please?
It sounds quite redundant to me but I’m fluent in French, perhaps non-French speakers wil see it differently.
It is redundant, like “ATM machine.” However, it indicates that “RSVP” is acquiring the meaning of “respond.”
It just sounds desperate when you put it that way. Maybe it is more accurate in some cases.
and PIN number
Adding “please” to “R.s.v.p.” (only the R is capitalized) is redundant and is not used in the traditional form. I suppose that the initialism has been gradually corrupted to be equivalent to a verb meaning “respond” (“Have you R.s.v.p.'d yet?”) so people add “please” in front thinking it is somehow more polite.
it was understood that you should always reply to an invitation, but the phrase was added as a gentle reminder, and I suppose alluding to the French seemed more elegant. Now, unfortunately, people think that if it’s absent, there is no need to reply. Hell, I know from my own wedding that even with it some people don’t reply. :rolleyes:
rsvp, atm, pin, and probably many other acronyms have become defacto words. So while “please rsvp” and “pin number” are technically redundant, they do sound better than the correct forms to the average person.
English borrows words and phrases from all over the globe. As the word becomes a standard part of English and the original source becomes forgotten, the word has to be treated as if it were a standard English word, even if this offends people who understand the original.
R.S.V.P. is in that transition period. Most people do not know the translation of the original French and just understand it to mean “respond.” Adding a please seems to be proper in that case.
There is no standard for English usage, just a shading continuum of “properness.” In proper, formal, English, R.S.V.P. stands alone. In colloquial, informal, English adding a please is becoming more common. Will it eventually become proper? Ain’t no way to tell.
So, to sum up, the consensus seems to be: yes, it’s redundant, but people are stupid and if you don’t say please they’ll think you’re rude.
CWG, thanks for the correction on the capitalization. I did not know that.
Neither did I until I read it in Miss Manners just last week (second letter). The link I posted earlier confirms it.
It might be a consensus, but RSVP is quite properly a verb by itself. From m-w.com:
Main Entry: 1RSVP
Function: intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s): RSVP’d or RSVPed; RSVP’·ing or RSVP·ing
: to respond to an invitation
Language, words, meanings, etc. evolve, whether we think it’s “proper” usage or not. Also notice that the entry is spelled in all caps, unlike the original R.s.v.p.
I don’t think that matters, though, unless it also appears as an imperative form.
While I’m usually the first to call people as a mass stupid, the fact is that most of the current usage, meaning, and spelling in English has changed significantly from the way it first appeared. The language is in a process of constant change. Words borrowed whole from other languages change perhaps at an even greater rate, because it is not stupid not to know the meaning of words in a language you don’t speak. (Should you never use those words, then? Like that’s gonna happen.)
BTW, my desk dictionaries (American Heritage and Encarta) give R.S.V.P. and r.s.v.p. as choices, but not R.s.v.p. Perhaps that’s a battle the formalists have already lost.
Enter your PIN number at the AIB Bank Banklink ATM machine.
Are you asking if you should never use foreign words when you don’t know what they mean? Of course you shouldn’t - just as you should never use words in your own language if you don’t know what they mean.
I will admit that RSVP or r.s.v.p. or R.s.v.p. or whatever is something of a special case since you never see it written out. Maybe I’ll just do that, and then I won’t have to worry about it.
However, the point is that “RSVP” has become a word/term in English that is independent of its original French meaning. Likewise, saying salsa in English usually means a particular kind of spicy tomato sauce, whereas in Spanish it simply means “sauce.”
Well, that makes more sense. However, I still don’t think anyone has established that the accepted English meaning of the term/abbreviation does not include please, in which case we would default to the original meaning, right?
Eh? Did you read post #11 from m-w.com?
Check the cite by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker. RSVP is a verb meaning “to respond”. I don’t see “please” in that dictionary cite. And the date on that cite is 1953.
It’s a pleonasm and worth avoiding since RSVP does say it all.