Lexico-sementic characterstics of business letter correspondence
«LEXICO-SEMENTIC CHARACTERISTICS OF BUSINESS LETTER CORRESPONDENCE»
Сдала: студентка гр. РП -41
Юрченко М. В.
Приняла: ст. преподаватель Галиченко Н. Ю.
BUSINESS LETTERS THROUGHT LEXICS 7
A sampling of contract phrases 7
Foreign esoteric words 16
Some words against passive 16
EXAMINING ENGLISH BUSINESS LETTERS 17
Example 1. 18
Example 3. 22
Example 4. 24
Example 5 25
Example 6. 27
The subject matter of the course paper is the role of lexics and semantics
in the case of business letter correspondence. The question of the history
of official communication, the main stages of business transactions, the
role of person’s feeling for the proper use of phrases as well as his
knowledge of grammar are highlighted. Moreover, those phrases which are
more often used in business letters are examined from the point of view of
their appropriateness in different situations. The practical part contains
several examples of business letters; the occasions on which they were
written and some of their characteristics are observed.
Letter writing - is an essential part of communication, an intimate
part of experience. Each letter-writer has a characteristic way of
writing, his style of writing, his way of expressing thoughts, facts,
etc. but it must be emphasised that the routine of the official or
semi-official business letters requires certain accepted idioms,
phrases, patterns, and grammar which are found in general use today.
Therefore certain skills must be acquired by practice, and details of
writing must be carefully and thoroughly learnt.
A cheque, a contract or any other business paper sent by mail should
always be accompanied by a letter. The letter says what is being sent so
that the recipient should know exactly what you intended to send. It is a
typical business letter which some people call "routine". The letter
may be short or long, it may contain some very important and much less
important information - every letter requires careful planning and
In recent years English has become a universal business language. As
such, it is potentially an instrument of order and clarity. But words
and phrases have unexpected ways of creating binding commitments.
Letter-writing, certainly, is not the same as casual conversation,
it bears only the same power of thoughts, reflections, and
observations as in conversational talk, but the form may be quite
different. What makes the letter so attractive and pleasing is not
always the massage of the letter, it is often the manner and style in
which the massage is written.
E.g.: "I wish to express to you my sincere appreciation for your
note of congratulation."
"I am sincerely happy that you were elected President of Biological
As you see such formulations show the attitude of the writer, his
respect and sincerity.
The language of business, professional and semi-official letters is
formal, courteous, tactful, concise, expressive, and to the point. A
neatly arranged letter will certainly make a better impression on the
reader, thus good letters make good business partners.
In the case of "scientific correspondence" the majority of letters
bear mostly a semi-official character and are concerned with
different situations associated with scientific activities concentrated
around the organisation of scientific meetings (congresses, symposia,
workshops, etc.), the arrangement of visit, invitation, publication,
the exchange of scientific literature, information, etc. Letters of this
kind have a tone of friendliness, naturalism. Modern English letters
should not be exaggerated, overburdened, outmoded with time-worn
expressions. The key note is simplicity. Modern letters tend towards
using the language of conversational style.
Writing is not only a means of communication and contract,
but also a record of affairs, information, events, etc. So it is
necessary to feel the spirit and trend of the style in order to write a
Business-letter or contract law is a complex and vastly documented
subject, only a lawyer can deal with it on a serious level. A
number of basic principles, however, can be outlined sufficiently to mark
of encounters that require the use of specialised English.
Doing business means working out agreements with other people,
sometimes through elaborate contracts and sometimes through nothing but
little standard forms, through exchanges of letters and conversations
Nowadays more and more agreements are made in English, for English
is the nearest thing we have to a universal business language. Joint
ventures, bank loans, and trademark licenses frequently are spelled out
in this language even though it is not native to at least one of the
As a beginning I am going to look at the subject of writing of
business letters generally. In the main there are three stages
transactions involving business contracts: first, negotiation of terms,
second, drafting documents reflecting these terms, and third, litigation
to enforce or to avoid executing of these terms. To my mind, a fourth
might be added, the administration of contracts.
I am going to look through the first two since the third and the
fourth are related only to the field of law. A typical first stage of
contract is two or more people having drink and talking about future
dealing. A second phase might be letters written in order to work out an
In these two early stages it will be helpful to know something
about rules of contract. But what rules? Different nations borrow or
create different legal systems, and even within a single country the rules
may vary according to region or the kind of transaction involved.
It is worth knowing that the distinctions in legal system of England
are mainly historical.
The history of writing business letters is undoubtedly connected
with the history of development of legal language. English is in fact a
latecomer as a legal language. Even after the Norman Conquest court
pleadings in England were in French, and before that lawyers used
Latin. Perhaps, some of our difficulties arise due to the fact that
English was unacceptable in its childhood.
Contract in English suggest Anglo-American contract rules. The
main point is always to be aware that there are differences: the way they
may be resolved usually is a problem for lawyers. With contracts the
applicable law may be the law of the place where the contract is made; in
other cases it may be the law of the place where the contract is to be
performed. It is specified in preliminary negotiations which system of
law is to apply.
Diversity is characteristic feature of English; here is a wide range
of alternatives to choose from in saying things, although the
conciseness is sometimes lacking. Consequently, the use of English is
a creative challenge. Almost too many riches are available for
selection, that leads occasionally to masterpieces but more
frequently to mistakes. English is less refined in its distinctions than
French, for example, and this makes it harder to be clear.
That does not mean that English is imprecise for all things are
relative. If we compare English with Japanese, we will see that the
latter possesses enormous degree of politeness to reflect the
respectiveness of speaker and listener as well as of addresser and
Here I cannot help mentioning the fact that as contracts are so
unclear in what every side intends to do, a contract can sometimes put a
company out of business.
Thus everybody who is involved in any kind of business should study
thoroughly the complex science of writing business letters and
BUSINESS LETTERS THROUGHT LEXICS
From the lexicological point of view isolated words and phrases mean
very little. In context they mean a great deal, and in the special
context of contractual undertakings they mean everything. Contract
English is a prose organised according to plan.
And it includes, without limitation, the right but not the
obligation to select words from a wide variety of verbal implements and
write clearly, accurately, and/or with style.
Two phases of writing contracts exist: in the first, we react to
proposed contracts drafted by somebody else, and in the second, which
presents greater challenge, we compose our own.
A good contract reads like a classic story. It narrates, in orderly
sequence, that one part should do this and another should do that, and
perhaps if certain events occur, the outcome will be changed. All of
the rate cards charts, and other reference material ought to be ticked off
one after another according to the sense of it. Tables and figures, code
words and mystical references are almost insulting unless organised and
defined. Without organisation they baffle, without definition they
In strong stance one can send back the offending document and request
a substitute document in comprehensible English. Otherwise a series of
questions may be put by letter, and the replies often will have
contractual force if the document is later contested.
A sampling of contract phrases
My observations about English so far have been general in nature. Now
it appears logical to examine the examples of favourite contract
phrases, which will help ease the way to fuller examination of entire
negotiations and contracts. a full glossary is beyond reach but in what
follows there is a listing of words and phrases that turn up in great
many documents, with comments on each one. The words and phrases are
presented in plausible contract sequence, not alphabetically.
"Whereas" Everyman's idea of how a contract begins. Some lawyers
dislike "Whereas" and use recitation clauses so marked to distinguish them
from the text in the contract. There the real issue lies; one must be
careful about mixing up recitals of history with what is actually being
agreed on. For example, it would be folly to write: "Whereas A admits
owing B $10,000..." because the admission may later haunt one,
especially if drafts are never signed and the debt be disputed. Rather
less damaging would be:
"Whereas the parties have engaged in a series of
transactions resulting in dispute over accounting between them..."
On the whole "Whereas" is acceptable, but what follows it needs
"It is understood and agreed" On the one hand, it usually adds
nothing, because every clause in the contract is "understood and agreed" or
it would not be written into it. On the other hand, what it adds is an
implication that other clauses are not backed up by this phrase: by
including the one you exclude the other. «It is understood and agreed»
ought to be banished.
"Hereinafter" A decent enough little word doing the job of six
("Referred to later in this document"). "Hereinafter" frequently sets up
abbreviated names for the contract parties.
"Knightsbridge International Drapes and Fishmonger, Ltd
"Including Without Limitation" It is useful and at times essential
phrase. Earlier I've noted that mentioning certain things may exclude
others by implication. Thus,
"You may assign your exclusive British and Commonwealth rights"
suggests that you may not assign other rights assuming you have any. Such
pitfalls may be avoided by phrasing such as:
"You may assign any and all your rights including without
limitation your exclusive British and Commonwealth rights".
But why specify any rights if all of them are included? Psychology
is the main reason; people want specific things underscored in the
contracts, and "Including Without Limitation" indulges this
"Assignees and Licensees" These are important words which
acceptability depends on one's point of view
"Knightsbridge, its assignees and licensees..."
suggests that Knightsbridge may hand you over to somebody else after
contracts are signed. If you yourself happen to be Knightsbridge, you
will want that particular right and should use the phrase.
"Without Prejudice" It is a classic. The British use this phrase all
by itself, leaving the reader intrigued. "Without Prejudice" to what
exactly? Americans spell it out more elaborately, but if you stick
to American way, remember "Including Without Limitation", or you may
accidentally exclude something by implication. Legal rights, for example,
are not the same thing as remedies the law offers to enforce them. Thus
the American might write:
"Without prejudice to any of my existing or future rights or
And this leads to another phrase.
"And/or" It is an essential barbarism. In the preceding example I've used
the disjunctive "rights or remedies". This is not always good enough, and
one may run into trouble with
"Knightsbridge or Tefal or either of them shall..."
What about both together? "Knightsbridge and Tefal", perhaps, followed by
"or either". Occasionally the alternatives become overwhelming, thus
and/or is convenient and generally accepted, although more detail
"Shall" If one says "Knightsbridge and/or Tefal shall have..." or
"will have...", legally it should make no difference in the case you
are consent in using one or the other. "Shall", however, is stronger
than "will". Going from one to another might suggest that one obligation
is stronger somehow than another. Perhaps, one's position may determine
the choice. "You shall", however is bad form.
"Understanding" It is a dangerous word. If you mean agreement you
ought to say so. If you view of affairs that there is no agreement,
"understanding" as a noun suggests the opposite or comes close to it. .it
stands, in fact, as a monument to unsatisfactory compromise. The
softness of the word conjures up pleasing images. "In accordance with
our understanding..." can be interpreted in a number of ways.
"Effect" Here is a little word which uses are insufficiently
praised. Such a phrase as "We will produce..." is inaccurate,
because the work will be subcontracted and the promise-maker
technically defaults. Somebody else does the producing. Why not say "We
will produce or cause to be produced..."? This is in fact often said, but
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