In the 19th and early 20th centuries spatial structure in letter writing was employed to show different degrees of respect for the addressee. Among the devices used to express deference were the following: dimensions of blank spaces, typical sequences within the sentence structure or the text, format of the paper, use of an envelope, capitalizing terms of address, and use of the so-called “Submissionsstrich” (a downward stroke before the signature). Within decades longestablished spatial devices lost their original function in showing respect and took over practical or aesthetic functions. This development is interpreted as part of the cultural history of European politeness.
© Walter de Gruyter