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In other words, the aim of communication in this style of language is to reach agreement between two contracting parties. Even protest against violations of statutes, contracts, regulations, etc., can also be regarded as a form by which normal cooperation is sought on the basis of previously attained concordance.
The Style of Official Documents
Official documents are written
in a formal, вЂњcoldвЂќ or matter-of-fact style of speech. The
style of official documents, or вЂ�officialeseвЂ™ as it is sometimes
called, is not homogeneous and is represented by the following sub-styles,
1. the language of business documents,
2. the language of legal documents,
3. the language of diplomacy,
4. the language of military
Like other styles of language,
this style has a definite communicative aim and accordingly has its
own system of interrelated language and stylistic means. The main aim
of this type of communication is to state the conditions binding two
parties in an undertaking. These parties may be:
a) the state and the citizen, or citizen and citizen (jurisdiction);
b) a society and its members (statute or ordinance);
c) two or more enterprises or bodies (business correspondence or contracts);
d) two or more governments (pacts, treaties);
e) a person in authority and a subordinate (orders, regulations, authoritative directions);
f) the board or presidium and
the assembly or general meeting (procedures acts, minutes), etc.
In other words, the aim of
communication in this style of language is to reach agreement between
two contracting parties. Even protest against violations of statutes,
contracts, regulations, etc., can also be regarded as a form by which
normal cooperation is sought on the basis of previously attained concordance.
The most general function of
official documents predetermines the peculiarities of the style. The
most striking, though not the most essential feature, is a special system
of clichР№s, terms and set expressions by which each sub-style can
easily be recognized, for example: I beg to inform you; I beg to move;
I second the motion; provisional agenda; the above-mentioned; hereinafter
named; on behalf of; private advisory; Dear sir; We remain, your obedient
In fact, each of the subdivisions
of this style has its own peculiar terms, phrases and expressions which
differ from the corresponding terms, phrases and expressions of other
variants of this style. Thus, in finance we find terms like extra revenue;
taxable capacities; liability to profit tax. Terms and phrases like
high contracting parties; to ratify an agreement; memorandum; pact;
protectorate; extra-territorial status; plenipotentiary will immediately
brand the utterance as diplomatic. In legal language, examples are:
to deal with a case; summary procedure; a body of judges; as laid down
in; the succeeding clauses of agreement; to reaffirm faith in fundamental
principles; to establish the required conditions; the obligations arising
from treaties and other sources of international law.
The vocabulary is characterized not only by the use of special terminology but the choice of lofty (bookish) words and phrases: plausible (=possible); to inform (=to tell); to assist (=to help); to cooperate (=to work together); to promote (=to help something develop);
to secure (=to make certain)
social progress; with the following objectives/ends (=for these purposes);
to be determined/resolved (=to wish); to endeavour (=to try); to proceed
(=to go); inquire (to ask).
Likewise, other varieties of
official languages have their special nomenclature, which is conspicuous
in the text, and therefore easily discernible.
Besides the special nomenclature
characteristic of each variety of the style, there is a feature common
to all these varieties вЂ“ the use of abbreviations, conventional
symbols and contractions. Some of them are well-known, for example,
M.P. (Member of Parliament); Gvt. (government); H.M.S. (Her MajestyвЂ™s
Steamship); $ (dollar); Ltd (Limited). But there are a few that have
recently sprung up. A very interesting group of acronyms comprises the
names of the USA presidents: FDR вЂ“ Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
and accordingly FDR-drive in New York; JFK вЂ“ John Fitzgerald Kennedy
and JFK Airport in New York; LBJ вЂ“ Lyndon Baines Johnson; W вЂ“
for AmericaвЂ™s President George Walker Bush, but his father is
simply George Bush though his full name is George Herbert Walker Bush;
POTUS, VPOTUS and FLOTUS вЂ“ accordingly President/Vice President/First
Lady of the United States.
There are so many abbreviations
and acronyms in official documents that there are special addenda in
dictionaries to decode them. These abbreviations are particularly abundant
in military documents. Here they are used not only as conventional symbols
but as signs of the military code, which is supposed to be known only
to the initiated. Examples are: DAO (Divisional Ammunition Officer);
adv. (advance); atk. (attack); obj. (object); A/T (anti-tank); ATAS
(Air Transport Auxiliary Service).
Another feature of the style
is the use of words in their logical dictionary meaning. There is no
room for words with contextual meaning or for any kind of simultaneous
realization of two meanings, as in the other matter-of-fact styles.
In military documents sometimes metaphorical names are given to mountains,
rivers, hills, or villages, but these metaphors are perceived as code
signs and have no aesthetic value, as in:
вЂњ2.102 d. Inf. Div. continues
atk. 26 Feb. 45 to captive objs Spruce Peach and Cherry and prepares
to take over objs Plum and Apple after capture by CCB, 5th armd Div.вЂќ
Words with emotive meaning
are also not to be found in official documents.
Even in the style of scientific
prose some words may be found which reveal the attitude of the writer,
his individual evaluation of the fact and events of the issue. But no
such words are to be found in official style, except those which are
used in business letters as conventional phrases of greeting or close,
as Dear Sir; yours faithfully.
As in all other functional
styles, the distinctive properties appear as a system. It is impossible
to single out a style by its vocabulary only, recognizable though it
always is. The syntactical pattern of the style is as significant as
the vocabulary though not perhaps so immediately apparent. Perhaps the
most noticeable of all syntactical features are the compositional patterns
of the variants of this style. Thus, business letters have a definite
compositional pattern, namely, the heading giving the address of the
writer and the date, the name of the addressee and his address. The
usual parts of the business paper are:
1. Heading. The heading, which
includes the senderвЂ™s name, postal and telegraphic addresses,
telephone number as well as reference titles of the sender and recipient,
is printed at the top of the notepaper. Note: in the United Kingdom
all companies registered after 23rd November, 1916, must give the names
of the directors, and if any of them are not British by origin, their
nationality must be also printed.
2. Date. The date should always
be printed in the top right-hand corner in the order: day, month, year,
e.g. 21st May, 2004 (21/5/04). Another order is usually employed in
the United States: May 21st, 2004 (5/21/04).
3. Name and address, i.e. the
inside address or the direction. The inside address is typed in three,
four or more lines whichever is necessary, either at the beginning of
the letter, or at the end, e.g., Messrs. Adams and Wilkinson, / 4, Finsbury
Square, / London, E.C.2., England.
4. Salutation. The salutation
may be: Sir, Sirs, Gentlemen (never вЂ�GentlemanвЂ™), Dear Sirs (never
вЂњDear Gentlemen), Madam, Dear Madam (for both married and unmarried
ladies), or Mesdames (plural). Dear Mr., or Dear Mister should never
be used! Dear Mr. Jones, (Mrs. Brown / Miss Smith) may only be used
when the sender is fairly intimate with the person receiving the letter.
5. Reference. Underlined heading
should look as follows: Re: Your Order No 12345. Re is not an abbreviation
of вЂњregardingвЂќ, but a Latin word meaning вЂњin the matterвЂќ.
6. Opening. If you are hesitating
for a phrase with which to commence your letter, one of the following
will suit your purpose: In reply / with reference / referring to your
letter ofвЂ¦; in accordance with / compliance with / pursuance of
your order No.; we greatly appreciate your letter ofвЂ¦
7. Body. The body is the subject
matter that should be concise but not laconic. The sentences should
not be too long, the whole matter should be broken into reasonably short
paragraphs which should be properly spaced.
8. Closing or the complimentary
close. It usually looks something like this: Yours faithfully / truly
/ sincerely / cordially (not respectfully as it is too servile). Your
obedient servant is used by the British civil service, i.e. by all non-warlike
branches of the British state administration. The most appropriate closing
is: Awaiting your early reply with interest / Hoping there will be no
further complaints of this nature / Thanking you in advance for any
information you can offer.
9. Stamp (if any) and signatures.
The closing, with the signature following it, is made to slope off gradually
so that the end of the signature just reaches the right hand margin
of the letter.
10. Enclosures. The Word вЂњEnclosure
вЂњshould be written either in full or in its abbreviated form вЂњEnc.вЂќ
Usually at the bottom left-hand corner of the letter.
Consider the structure of a business letter below:
Mansfield and Co.
59 High Street
Swanage (=the address of the sender)
14 August, 2006 (=the date)
22 Fleet Street
London (= the address of the
Dear Sir, (=salutation)
We beg to inform you that by
order and for account of Mr. Jones of Manchester, we have taken the
liberty of drawing upon you for $45 at three monthsвЂ™ date to the
order of Mr. Sharp. We gladly take this opportunity of placing our services
at your disposal, and shall be pleased if you frequently make use of
Mansfield and Co. (=closing)
by Mary Smith
Almost every official document
has its own compositional design. Pacts and statutes, orders and minutes,
codes and memoranda вЂ“ all have more or less definite form, and
it will not be an exaggeration to state that the form of the document
is itself informative, inasmuch as it tells something about the matter
An official document usually
consists of a preamble, main text body and a finalizing (concluding)
The preamble is usually a statement
at the beginning of the document explaining what it is about and stating
the parties of the agreement, e.g. вЂњThe States concluding this
Treaty (Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons), hereinafter
referred to as the вЂ�Parties to the TreatyвЂ™вЂ¦have
agreed as followsвЂ¦вЂќ. The most important words and phrases
are often capitalized as well as the beginnings of the paragraphs in
very long sentences listing the crucial issues.
The main text body constitutes
the central and most important part of the document. It consists of
articles вЂ“ individual parts of a document, usually numbered ones,
which state the conditions on which the parties reach their agreement.
For example, Article I of the above cited Treaty begins: вЂњEach
nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer
to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive
devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly,
The finalizing part comprises
the signatures of the duly authorized people that have signed the document;
the amount of copies of the document; the date (more often than not,
stated by words, not by figures); the place: вЂњIN WITNESS WHEREOF
the undersigned, duly authorized, have signed this Treaty. DONE in triplicate,
at the cities of Washington, London and Moscow, this first day of July
one thousand nine hundred sixty-eightвЂќ.
Depending on the type of document,
the composition and content of its individual parts may slightly vary
as, for example, in business contracts setting the conditions binding
two parties. A business contract consists of a standard text and changeable
elements. In modern linguistics, standard text structures intended for
information presentation are called frames. A frame is understood as
asset language structure with changeable elements. The changeable elements
within a text are called slots.
Consider a preamble to a commercial
agreement as an example of a frame.
This Agreement is made this
____ day of ______, 2007, by and between _________, (a ________ corporation
with its principle office at ________) or (an individual with an office
and mailing address at_______) (вЂњAgentвЂќ), and (company name),
a corporation organized and existing under the laws of_________, with
its principle place of business at __________.
Here, in the above frame of
an agreement the blank spaces represent the slots to be filled with
slot fillers (by the date, company names, addresses, etc.).
But a text frame seldom has
the form of a text with blank spaces. More often than not a frame is
a standard text with stable and changeable parts, for example:
________ by this Agreement
does not grant to Agent any rights in or license to _______вЂ™s
trademarks, trade names or service marks. _______ reserves all such
rights to itself. Agent shall not utilize, without _______вЂ™s express,
prior and written consent, any ________ trade or service marks on trade
names, and will promptly report to _______ any apparent unauthorized
use by third parties in the Territory of _______вЂ™s trade or service
marks or trade names.
In the above text frame the
non-italicized text fragments are presumed to be changeable depending
on the subject and conditions of the Agreement, e.g. вЂњprior and
written consentвЂќ may be replaced by вЂњoral consentвЂќ, etc.
The task of a translator translating
official documents is to find target language equivalents of the source
text frames and use them in translation as standard substitutes, filling
the slots with frame fillers in compliance with the document content.
The syntax of official or business
documents is characterized by the frequent use of non-finite forms вЂ“
Gerund, Participle, Infinitive (Considering thatвЂ¦; in order to
achieve cooperation in solving the problemsвЂ¦), and complex structures
with them, such as the Complex Object ( We expect this to take place),
Complex Subject (This is expected to take place), the Absolute Participial
Construction (The conditions being violated, it appears necessary to
In this respect, consider the Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations which clearly illustrates the most peculiar form of the arrangement and syntax of an official document.
CHARTER OF THE UNITED NATIONS
We the People of the United
TO SAVE succeeding generations
from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold
sorrow to mankind, and
TO REAFFIRM faith in fundamental
rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights
of men and women and of nations large and small, and
TO ESTABLISH conditions under
which justice and respect for obligations arising from treaties and
other sources of international law can be maintained, and
TO PROMOTE social progress
and better standards of life in larger freedom,
And For These Ends
TO PRACTICE tolerance and live
together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
TO UNITE our strength to maintain
international peace and security, and
TO ENSURE, by the acceptance
of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall
not be used, save in the common interest, and
TO EMPLOY international machinery
for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
Have Resolved to Combine Our
Efforts to Accomplish These Aims.
(The Random House Dictionary
of the English Language, N.Y.,
As is seen, all the reasons
which led to the decision of setting up an international organization
are expressed in one sentence with parallel infinitive object clauses.
Each infinitive object clause is framed as a separate paragraph, with
the infinitive being capitalized, thus enabling the reader to attach
equal importance to each of the items mentioned. The separate sentences
shaped as clauses are naturally divided not by full stops but either
by commas or by semicolons. It is also an established custom to divide
separate utterances by numbers, maintaining, however the principle of
dependence of all statements on the main part of the utterance.
As is seen from the different
samples above, the over-all code of the official style falls into a
system of subcodes, each characterized by its own terminological nomenclature,
its own compositional form, its own variety of syntactical arrangements.
But the integrating features of all these subcodes emanating from the
general aim of agreement between parties, remain the following:
1) conventionality of expression;
2) absence of any emotiveness;
3) the encoded character of language; symbols (including abbreviations);
4) a general syntactical mode of combining several utterances into one sentence.
1. What substyles represent the style of official documents?
2. What is the main aim of communication in the language of official documents?
3. Describe the essential features of the vocabulary of official documents.
4. What language means are used in the style of вЂ�officialeseвЂ™ for the utterances to sound laconic? Give examples of acronyms which have appeared recently.
5. What is the aim of metaphors used in military documents? Do they have any aesthetic value?
6. Describe the most characteristic features of the syntax of official and business documents.
7. What is the most noticeable of all syntactic features in the style of вЂњofficialeseвЂќ?
8. What parts does an official document usually consist of? What is a frame? a slot? a slot filler?
9. Describe the peculiarities of official papers design.
10. List the integrating features of the official style emanating from the general aim of agreement between the parties.
Analyze the вЂњResolutionвЂќ
from the standpoint of its formal syntactical structure. Comment on
the numbered and capitalized parts of the document and punctuation.
United Nations Economic And Social Council (UNESCO)
Technical Assistance Committee
Expended Programme of Technical Assistance
Review of the Programme for 1956
Australia and Egypt: revised draft resolution.
The Technical Assistance Committee,
RECALLING THAT according to
Economic and Social Council resolution 542(XVIII) the preparation and
review of the Expanded Programme and all other necessary steps should
be carried out in away that TAC ought to be in a position to approve
the over-all programme and authorize allocation to participating organizations
by 30 November at the latest,
CONSIDERING THAT a realistic
programme such as Expanded Programme cannot be planned and formulated
without prior knowledge of the financial resources available for its