<i>Yours sincerely</i> and <i>yours affectionately</i>&#8202;

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This article explores the history of <i>yours sincerely</i> and <i>yours affectionately</i> as closing formulas in letters. It focuses especially on the rise of the formulas in the eighteenth century, tracing their origin as positive politeness devices which took the place of the pragmatised standard epistolary formula <i>Your most obedient humble servant</i>. The article will also try to find evidence for John Gay (1685&#8211;1732), writer and poet, being a linguistic innovator in terms of the research model of social network analysis as developed by Leslie Milroy (1987). It will be argued that John Gay might have been responsible for the adoption and subsequent spread in usage of the formula within his own social network, comprising Pope, Swift and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.


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