Linguistic Pecularities Of Contracts in English

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Abstract nouns, especially amount words (majority, minority, amount), specify more precisely the meaning of an utterance.

e.g. Announcement from the librarian

It has been noted with concern that the stock of books in the library has been declining alarmingly. Students are asked to remind themselves of the rules for the borrowing and return of books, and to bear in mind the needs of other students. Penalties for overdue books will in the future be strictly enforced. [16, P.13]

It is a very formal and impersonal message which could have been written in a more informal and less impersonal way, achieved by usage of phrasal verbs, contractions, colloquial phrases and other linguistic means:

Librarian’s message

The number of books in the library has been going down. Please make sure you know the rules for borrowing, and don’t forget that the library is for everyone’s convenience. So from now on, we’re going to enforce the rules strictly. You have been warned! [16, P.13]

To be tactful is to avoid causing offence or distress in correspondence. Sometimes it means disguising or covering up the truth. In such a case, the use of imperatives should be polite:

e.g. Would you like to stipulate details of the contract?

Let us compare some more examples:

e.g. I suggest that we postponed signing of the contract till tomorrow. (tactful)

Could I suggest that we postponed signing of the contract till tomorrow. (tentative and more tactful)

In other cases tentativeness is not connected with tact, but is simply an indication of the speaker’s reluctance to commit himself / herself on a given question. To use of might is characteristic of business correspondence, because it is a more tentative way of expressing possibility than may. Let us compare two sentences:

e.g. It may have been an error in a business deal.

It might have been an error in a business deal.

In the second sentence might presupposes a greater degree of uncertainty and sounds more tactful than may.

Texts of business documents are specific and aimed at a definite purpose. In order to make one’s business work and work effectively, a person should possess knowledge of language standards in business letters. Skilful application of this knowledge is somehow determined by standards of documents’ writing. If a document is written in an accepted way, it will be assessed by specialists. A unified business text takes up less time and work to compile in comparison with private letters.

Since a writer of a business letter has a unified form in front of him / her, this person follows a set pattern while doing it. All the writer’s attention is focused on major information and data which represent the subject of the document. In this way, an addressee can decode the subject-matter faster, because a document is written in the standardised form.

Moreover, if business documents are drawn up in a unified and, to some extent, simplified way, it takes less money spending and saves time of the dealing sides, and shortens the time of business procedure as well. A special branch of English linguistics, - business English, - is devoted to the purpose of simplifying of business making.

Written business English has got certain traits and problems of its usage, not only for foreigners, but for English-speaking business people.

Theoretical problems of the language of documents

Knowledge of drawing up business correspondence is equal to communicating with people in a businesslike manner [7, P.4]. A person should know rules of documents’ writing to make one’s business effective and profitable. All of them are united under the notion of style.

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