Language and style of the business letter
Specificity of the language. The variety of language used in this or that sphere of human activity is called the language style. In the sphere of official communication, we use the official business style.
Style - a functional kind of language, a system of language units, methods of their selection and use, conditioned by social tasks of speech communication in a certain sphere of human activity (science, technology, journalism, law, fiction, office work, etc.).
Almost every style is a complex linguistic phenomenon, including crusts - varieties that have specific features and differ from each other. In the official-business style, diplomatic underpinnings, legislative, judicial, management documents, or business style are singled out.
Cultural speech is always a normative speech. Norm in a language is a set of commonly used language tools that are considered correct and exemplary. Norms are formed historically, in the process of public speech practice.
Linguists distinguish the norms of general literary and stylistic, or functional-style. The general literary norm - these are the rules adopted in the literary language. Style rule - rules for the use of language tools in a particular functional style. Each functional style has its own norms, and what is appropriate in one style can be completely unacceptable in another.
Violation of the norm is perceived as a language error. Naturally, the culture of business communication implies ownership not only of general literary norms, but also style.
Features of the business style, the specific features inherent in it, the style norms of this variety of language were formed under the influence of the conditions in which written business communication takes place.
These conditions are as follows:
- participants of business communication are mainly legal entities - organizations, institutions, enterprises on behalf of whom heads and other officials act;
- the nature and content of information interconnections of organizations are quite strictly regulated;
- the subject of business communication is the activities of the organization - management, production, economic, scientific, technical, etc.
- management documents in the overwhelming majority of cases are targeted to a specific recipient;
- most situations that arise in the activities of organizations and need to be written are repetitive, of the same type.
The considered conditions of business communication form certain requirements for management information. To ensure effective information exchange in the field of management, information must have certain properties. It should be:
- official in its nature, which emphasizes the business basis of relations, their non-personal nature, and also indicates a certain distance existing between the participants of business communication;
- address, since the management document is always intended for a specific recipient - an official, organization, group of organizations;
- actual, because the document should contain exactly the information that is needed at the moment to make an effective management decision or other use in management activities;
- objective and reliable, since an impartial, unbiased assessment of events, facts, phenomena is necessary for effective management activity;
- convincing, reasoned, because the task of business communication is to prompt the addressee to perform (or not to perform) certain actions;
- full or sufficient to make an informed management decision; Insufficiency of information can cause the need to request additional information, generate correspondence, lead to unnecessary losses of time and money.
Business style has a set of specific features that distinguish it from other styles of language (scientific, journalistic, colloquial, language of fiction, etc.).
Business style is generally characterized by:
- a neutral tone of exposition; the ascertaining-prescriptive character of the exposition;
- accuracy and clarity of presentation; laconism (brevity) of the text;
using language formulas;
- the use of terms; the use of lexical and graphic abbreviations;
- the predominance of passive constructions over real ones; limited compatibility of words;
- the use of constructions with consecutive submission of words in the genitive or instrumental case;
- the use of word combinations with a verbal noun;
- the prevalence of simple common sentences.
Neutral tone of exposition. The norm of official business communication is a neutral tone of presentation. The information contained in the text of the document is official in nature, and the participants of business communication act on behalf of organizations, institutions, enterprises, firms, ie. on behalf of legal entities, not individuals. For this reason, the personal, subjective moment in business letters should be kept to a minimum. From the language of business letters, words with pronounced emotional-expressive coloring (words with diminutive and affectionate suffixes, exaggeration and understatement suffixes, interjections, etc.) are excluded.
However, one should not consider that a business letter is completely devoid of emotions. The purpose of most letters is to interest the addressee, convince him, only to urge him to act in the direction necessary for the author.
Business letter will not reach its goal, if it is deprived of emotional overtones, however emotionality, even expressiveness of the document should be hidden, veiled. Emotionality of the letter should not be linguistic, but content, it must be hidden behind the outwardly calm, neutral tone of the presentation.
The prescriptive nature of the presentation. In literary speech, there are several ways of presenting the content: narrative, reasoning, description.
Narrative tells about events, facts, phenomena in the chronological order in which they occurred in reality. The way of describing the text in the form of narration is characteristic primarily for fiction, but in business speech it is present in such documents as minutes of meetings, acts, reports, autobiographies, etc.
The way of presentation in the form of reasoning is based on the logical form of speech, the inner connection of phenomena is revealed.
Reasoning - is a series of definitions, judgments, inferences used to justify any statements and formulate conclusions. Reasoning lies at the heart of scientific speech, but is also used in business.
Description - The way of presentation, in which the essence of a phenomenon is revealed, its signs, distinctive features are listed. In the description, as a rule, a general characteristic of an object or phenomenon will be given, its individual aspects are considered. The description is present in many documents containing a presentation and analysis of management situations. This method is most typical for business speech.
The peculiarity of the business style is that whatever method of presentation is used, it must have a ascertaining-prescriptive character.
If a descriptive way of exposition is used, then for the purpose of ascertaining facts, events, phenomena. Even the fact that in business texts looks like a narrative by using verbs in the form of the present tense is in fact the same statement that has the implication of obligation or obligatory action, for example: The firm offers products of leading European firms.
In the above example, the present verb appears in the form of a present prescriptive. The same value is acquired by the past tense of the verb: The commission conducted a check and installed ...
Regardless of the specific content and manner in which the text is presented, the value of the obligation inherent in the verbs in the above examples gives the text a prescriptive character.
Accuracy and clarity of presentation. The text of the document should be accurate, clear, understandable. Accuracy of the text provides a uniqueness of its understanding by the addressee, excludes any kind of ambiguity.
The adequacy of the perception of the text by the author and the addressee of the document is extremely important in business communication; while the speed of perception is not particularly important, since the text of the document is written, designed for visual perception and, as a rule, long-term work with it. In these conditions, the main thing is that the content should be transmitted as accurately as possible.
The accuracy of presentation is achieved by using terminological vocabulary, the use of stable turns, the lack of figurative words and expressions, limited by the compatibility of words, the use of clarifications, additions, reservations in the form of introductory words, participial and adverbial movements, etc.
Clarity of the text is determined primarily by the clarity, transparency of its compositional structure, the absence of logical errors, thoughtfulness and clarity of formulations.
The desire for accuracy and clarity of presentation has developed a special type of sentence in business speech.
Conciseness (brevity) of the text. The laconicity of the text of the letter is achieved by the economical use of language facilities, except for words and expressions that do not have additional meaning speech redundancy - .
The requirement of brevity, or brevity, of a text is directly related to a decrease in its volume and, consequently, a reduction in the processing time of document information and its perception. The requirement of brevity makes it necessary to formulate the subject of the letter more clearly, to economically use language facilities, to exclude unnecessary words that do not carry the necessary information, unjustified repetitions and unnecessary details.
Using language formulas. One of the features of business speech is the widespread use of language formulas, i.e. stable (template) language turns, used in an unchanged form. Their presence in a business speech is a consequence of the regulation of service relations, the frequency of management situations and the thematic limitations of business speech:
We are reporting that as of ...
We are sending for review and approval ...
In accordance with the agreement reached ...
Please consider the issue ...
Taking into account that .., please ...
Language formulas are the result of the unification of the language tools used in repetitive situations. In addition to expressing the typical content, linguistic formulas often act as legally significant components of the text, without which the letter does not have sufficient legal force, or are elements determining its species identity:
We guarantee payment. Our bank account details ...
Claims under warranty should be presented ...
... Otherwise, you will be penalized.
Owning a business style is largely a knowledge of language formulas and the ability to use them. Expressing the standard content, the language formulas ensure the accuracy and unambiguous understanding of the text by the addressee, shorten the time to prepare the text and its perception.
Using terms. The term is a word or phrase that denotes a specific scientific or special concept. The set of terms for a particular area of expertise or professional activity is terminology, or terminology.
The use of terms in strictly fixed meaning ensures unambiguous understanding of the text, which is very important in business communication.Terms used in management documentation - is a branch terminology that reflects the content of the subject area to which the content of the document is dedicated, .
The correctness and stability of the use of terms in practice is achieved by using terminological dictionaries and standards that establish a strictly unambiguous system of concepts and terms and facilitate the ordering of terminology. The terms used in the sphere of management documentation are fixed in GOST R 51141-98, "Office work and archival business. Terms and Definitions .
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