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Can one use 亲爱 "dear" in a letter to a teacher one knows well?

In the specific case that triggered this question, the student, who is a male student in his late 20s, is being addressed 亲爱的[name]兄弟 by a female teacher who is about 10 years older. They have known each other for several years, and cooperate on a research project.

The student (as far as I know) always addresses her as [Surname]+老师, but since they get along very well, he is wondering if one could find a "warmer" way of addressing her.

Two questions: 1. Is it possible for him to address her in emails as 亲爱的[Surname]老师 without invoking any undesired connotations (notably without suggesting anything beyond respectful friendship). 2. Is there any alternative to 老师 in conversation? My guess is that there really isn't (except for more formal options, such as 先生, 教授 etc.), but perhaps I am wrong? Could one use, say, [Surname]+姐?

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See related. – 杨以轩 Dec 8 '13 at 3:21
Yes, thanks, I've seen it, I was looking for help on this specific case. – mazed Dec 8 '13 at 9:37
If he has taught you before, just use 老师, like 尊敬的/敬爱的[surname/full name]老师. If you are writing to a professor whom you have not met yet, I'd recommend to use 尊敬的[surname or full name]教授. – user58955 Dec 9 '13 at 19:02

I think 敬爱的X老师 is good. 亲爱的 is mostly used to family member in China. 敬爱的 means 受人尊敬和喜爱的 and it is good for teacher and professor.

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I don't know. 亲爱的 to me is a lot more common in writing when addressing a teacher or a professor. – deutschZuid Dec 5 '13 at 0:40
But one would always use 老师, right? There is no way a student can address a teacher without it (either in speech or in writing)? [Thanks a lot for your help!] – mazed Dec 7 '13 at 10:10
@mazed You should always use 老师, unless you and your 老师 are super close friend. – zyc Dec 9 '13 at 13:58
@zyc I get the idea, thanks! – mazed Dec 10 '13 at 17:44

without invoking any undesired connotations

is the purpose of this question, right?

In other words, the student wants to avoid 暧昧, please see the Q&A How to translate "暧昧" into English? for further explanation of 暧昧.

Now, the answers for your questions,

Is it possible for him to address her in emails as 亲爱的[Surname]老师

Don't use 亲爱的 if you want to avoid 暧昧. Keep the way the student always uses, i.e. [Surname]+老师.

Is there any alternative to 老师 in conversation? My guess is that there really isn't

Yes, you are right. Actually, [Surname]+姐 will add even more 暧昧.

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Re 暧昧: yes, that's it! Thank you for this informative answer. – mazed Dec 9 '13 at 12:46

尊师XXX公(classical)/XXX先生(Taiwan)/尊敬的XXX老师(mainland official)

=Most serene Mr. XXX / Respected XXX who was born before me (a litteral expression for teacher/prof) / Respected Teacher XXX

As a student, you are expected to write in a very litteral style.

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