Linguistic Pecularities Of Contracts in English

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The official business language is sometimes called officialese and differs from other kinds of the English language, mostly because of specific character of its functional usage, which can be illustrated in classical terms of style, its predestination, and main features.

A functional style of a language is characterised by the greater or less typification of its constituents and supra-phrasal units, in which the choice and arrangement of interdependent linguistic means are calculated to secure the purpose of communication [3, P.312].

The style of official documents is divided into sub-styles of the language of business documents, legal documents, diplomacy, and military documents. The aim of the style of official documents is to state conditions binding two parties in an undertaking and to reach agreement between them.

General features of the style of English of documents’ writing are the following:

conventionality of expression;

absence of emotiveness;

encoded character of the language system (including abbreviations);

general syntactical mode of combining several pronouncements into one sentence [3, P.316].

The syntactical pattern of business correspondence style is made up from compositional patterns of variants of this style which have their own designs. The form of a document itself is informative, because it tells something about the matter dealt with. From the viewpoint of its stylistic structure, the whole document is one sentence. It looks like separate, shaped clauses often divided by commas or semicolons, and not by full stops, often numbered. Every predicate construction begins with a capital letter in the form of a participial or an infinitive construction.

e.g. 3. Claims

3.1. In case of non-confirmity of the quality of the goods actually delivered by Sellers with the contract specification, any claim concerning the quality of the goods may be presented within two months of the date of delivery;

3.2. No claim to be considered by Sellers after expiration of the above period;

3.3. No claim presented for one lot of the goods shall be regarded by Buyers as a reason for rejecting any other lot or lots of the goods to be delivered under the present contract;

3.4. ……… [6, P.202].

This structurally illogical way of combining definite ideas has its sense. It serves to show the equality of the items and similar dependence of participial and infinitive constructions or predicate constructions.

One of the most striking features of this style is usage of words in their logical dictionary meaning. There is no room for contextual meanings or for any kind of simultaneous realisation of two meanings. Words with emotive meanings are not to be found there either [3, P.31].

Every type of business documents has its own set phrases and clichés which may sound strange in colloquial English, e.g. invoice, book value, currency clause, promissory note, assets, etc. If a person wants to avoid misunderstanding, he / she should use glossary of commercial terms, and vice versa.

Indeed, there are many differences in the vocabulary of formal and informal business correspondence. Much vocabulary of formal English is of the French, Latin and Greek origin. They are often translated into informal language by replacing them by words or phrases of the Anglo-Saxon origin.

e.g. Formal style Informal style

commence begin, start

conclude end, finish, stop

prolong, continue go on

Let us compare examples where these words are used in different styles.

e.g. I am informing you that the meeting will commence at 4 p.m. (formal)

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