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Lexico-sementic characterstics of business letter correspondence

Lexico-sementic characterstics of business letter correspondence

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Сдала: студентка гр. РП -41

Юрченко М. В.

Приняла: ст. преподаватель Галиченко Н. Ю.


Content 1




A sampling of contract phrases 7

Foreign esoteric words 16

Some words against passive 16


Example 1. 18

Example2 20

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

thoughtful writing.

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

perfect letter.

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

at lunch.

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

contracting parties.

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



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

particular care.

"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.

For example:

"Knightsbridge International Drapes and Fishmonger, Ltd

(hereinafter "Knightsbridge").

"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

is better.

"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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