Рефераты. Linguistic Pecularities Of Contracts in English

Linguistic Pecularities Of Contracts in English




Chapter 1. Contracts. General characteristics and types


1. English of documents’ writing


2. Theoretical problems of the language of documents


3. The structure of contract and its essential clauses


4. Types of contracts. Abbreviation


Chapter 2. Linguistic peculiarities of contract


2.1. Contract as a type of text and its stylistic characteristics


2.2. Grammatical peculiarities of contract


2.3. Lexical peculiarities of contract







The interest to the problem of drawing up contracts is not

occasional. Nowadays more and more people are getting involved in the

world of business relationships. As a result of it, business people

need specialists possessing knowledge of the English language used for

writing documents.

Any serious deal should be struck with the help of contracts and

agreements. A written form of agreements is a guarantee that different

people, for example Buyers and Sellers, will cooperate in accordance

with a certain business strategy, and their interests will be taken

into consideration by their partners.

A contract makes clear such things as quantity and quality of

goods, their prices, delivery terms, order of payment, and other

terms. Contract serves to make a business operation smooth and logic.

It also proves seriousness of contracting parties and defines their

responsibilities before each other. An honest word of a businessman,

as well, should be reflected in a contract of a different kind. It is

called intentions agreement and is a manifestation of a wish to do

business. That is, every step and stage of a business deal should be

supported in a legal way, in an official form.

The chosen problem has appeared to be very urgent, because

linguistics lacks its precise description. There is a clear-cut

between formal and informal styles of English, but there is no strict

difference between spoken and written business English. Obviously,

businessmen do not communicate with their companions using intricate

phrases and bookish words. Still, they are obliged to use some formal

clichйs which may sound strange to non-business people, but are

essential for conducting business. Anyway, in the research we have

been trying to investigate the written part of business procedure, and

to analyse texts of contracts considering their specific


Another thing to be mentioned is that there are very few scientific

researches devoted to the problem of drawing up business documents. As

a result of it, theory of writing business papers, on the one hand,

reflects highly subjective approaches. On the other hand, such

approaches are not unified in accordance with existing rules of formal

English which is also greatly influenced by informal English. Such

influence really exists, but there are no accepted criteria about what

changes should be taken into consideration. That is why people who

draw up contracts suffer quite understandable problems: How should

they do it to sound correct in the foreign language? To what degree

should they be formal in the text of contract, if even English-

speaking people meet difficulties of a special kind in drawing a line

between formal and informal English? However, these problems are side

problems of making up contracts here.

The object of the research, thus, is a contract as a part of a

business deal and a type of written business English. Its subject

comprises investigation of linguistic peculiarities of a contract

which make technique of its writing obligatory for people involved in

drawing up business documents.

The purpose of the research is to investigate peculiarities in

texts of contracts. It is performed through comprehension,

interpretation and analysis of contractual essential clauses, all of

them illustrated by examples from texts of contracts.

The solution of the aim claims for doing away with a number of

certain tasks, such as:

1. to point out main features of formal English as the language of

business correspondence;

2. to describe the structure of contract and to single out its main

clauses which are characteristic of this type of documents;

3. to expose peculiarities of contract dividing them into three

general groups of stylistic, grammatical and lexical peculiarities.

In order to solve these tasks the author of the research has used

methods of studying and analysis of theoretical literature and

practical manuals on the problem; the methods of observation,

description, means of syntactic and semantic analyses.

The research has been performed in four interrelated steps.

Analysis of literature on the problem has logically been the first

stage. After it, theoretical basis of the research has been compiled.

Then the author has picked up examples illustrating grammatical,

lexical and stylistic peculiarities of contracts. At last,

generalisation of results of the research and drawing up final

conclusions have been performed.

In fact, linguistic peculiarities of contracts in comparison with

their structure and functioning in the business world have not been

investigated thoroughly enough yet. There are either economic papers

on forms and types of contracts, or linguistic researches on stylistic

peculiarities of formal English. To state a connection between those

kinds of data and make links between them describing texts of

contracts and to analyse their distinguishing features are the main

factors of scientific novelty of the research.

The practical significance of the research is in possible

application of its results in practice by people who are interested in

drawing up contracts and in the way of doing it correctly. It can be

also be of an interest for people studying problems of style in

English and functional usage of formal and informal styles. The

results of the research can be taken into consideration by students

and instructors of English and English stylistics. As well they can be

used as material for special courses on business English for students

of linguistic and economic departments.

The examples for analysis have been selected by the method of

overwhelming excerption from texts of contracts dated different years.

This fact can be a basis for comparison of linguistic devices used in

them. In order to make analysis of examples more precise, the author

has used data not only of linguistic, but those ones of economic

dictionaries as well.

The structure of the research includes introduction, two chapters,

seven paragraphs, conclusion and references. The total volume of the

research is 43 pages.

Chapter 1. Contracts. Their general characteristics and types

1. English of documents’ writing

A document in its any appearance has always been an important part

of business doing. Business contracts are impossible without

correspondence all over the world. It does not matter, whether you

communicate with your partner on the phone (orally) or through telexes

(in writing). All decisions and terms must be confirmed by documents.

All business papers, both correspondence (letters), telexes,

enquiries, offers, claims (complaints) and contracts (agreements) are

normally associated with striking business deals and their procedure.

Such documents are made up and signed “by a judicious authority and

are of legal importance” [5, P.7]. As a result of it, business

documents are written in accordance with some officially accepted

forms, common for everybody who wants to do business.

The official business language is sometimes called officialese and

differs from other kinds of the English language, mostly because of

specific character of its functional usage, which can be illustrated

in classical terms of style, its predestination, and main features.

A functional style of a language is characterised by the greater or

less typification of its constituents and supra-phrasal units, in

which the choice and arrangement of interdependent linguistic means

are calculated to secure the purpose of communication [3, P.312].

The style of official documents is divided into sub-styles of the

language of business documents, legal documents, diplomacy, and

military documents. The aim of the style of official documents is to

state conditions binding two parties in an undertaking and to reach

agreement between them.

General features of the style of English of documents’ writing are

the following:

1) conventionality of expression;

2) absence of emotiveness;

3) encoded character of the language system (including


4) general syntactical mode of combining several pronouncements

into one sentence [3, P.316].

The syntactical pattern of business correspondence style is made up

from compositional patterns of variants of this style which have their

own designs. The form of a document itself is informative, because it

tells something about the matter dealt with. From the viewpoint of its

stylistic structure, the whole document is one sentence. It looks like

separate, shaped clauses often divided by commas or semicolons, and

not by full stops, often numbered. Every predicate construction begins

with a capital letter in the form of a participial or an infinitive


e.g. 3. Claims

3.1. In case of non-confirmity of the quality of the goods

actually delivered by Sellers with the contract specification, any

claim concerning the quality of the goods may be presented within two

months of the date of delivery;

3.2. No claim to be considered by Sellers after expiration of the

above period;

3.3. No claim presented for one lot of the goods shall be regarded

by Buyers as a reason for rejecting any other lot or lots of the goods

to be delivered under the present contract;

3.4. ……… [6, P.202].

This structurally illogical way of combining definite ideas has its

sense. It serves to show the equality of the items and similar

dependence of participial and infinitive constructions or predicate


One of the most striking features of this style is usage of words

in their logical dictionary meaning. There is no room for contextual

meanings or for any kind of simultaneous realisation of two meanings.

Words with emotive meanings are not to be found there either [3,


Every type of business documents has its own set phrases and

clichйs which may sound strange in colloquial English, e.g. invoice,

book value, currency clause, promissory note, assets, etc. If a person

wants to avoid misunderstanding, he / she should use glossary of

commercial terms, and vice versa.

Indeed, there are many differences in the vocabulary of formal and

informal business correspondence. Much vocabulary of formal English is

of the French, Latin and Greek origin. They are often translated into

informal language by replacing them by words or phrases of the Anglo-

Saxon origin.

e.g. Formal style Informal style

commence begin, start

conclude end, finish, stop

prolong, continue go on

Let us compare examples where these words are used in different


e.g. I am informing you that the meeting will commence at 4 p.m.


I’d like to remind you that the meeting will begin at 4p.m.


The meeting concluded with signing the contract. (formal)

The meeting ended with signing the contract. (informal)

Phrasal and prepositional verbs are characteristic of informal

style, that is why they are not used in business correspondence. Their

formal equivalents are used in official texts instead.

Formal style Informal style

discover find out

explode blow up

encounter come across

invent make up

investigate look into

e.g. In case of discovering discrepancy of quality and quantity of

the product inform us immediately.

Spoken English is full of various vocabulary, both standard and

slangy. We also have here different connectors, such as well, you see,

a kind of which cannot be used in written business English, both

logically and stylistically. They are logically excluded because of a

little amount of information they convey. Business documents, on the

contrary, convey a lot of information in almost any word. Thus, a

person should be aware of these factors and not mix up colloquial and

business English, drawing up a document.

Informal terms have emotive qualities which are not present in

formal language. Formal language often insists on a greater deal of

preciseness. But the problem is that there are not always proper

equivalents in formal and informal English. The informal word job, for

instance, has no formal equivalent. Instead of it, we have to look for

a more restricted in usage and a more precise term, according to the

context, among possible variants: employment, post (esp. Br.E.),

position, appointment, vocation, etc. [16, P.12 – 13]

Business English is formal. We use it in business correspondence,

official reports and regulations. Actually, it is always written.

Exceptionally it is used in speech, for example, in formal public

speeches. There are various degrees of formality, like in the


e.g. After his father’s death, he had to change his job.


On the disease of his father, he was obliged to seek for

alternative employment. (formal)

These sentences mean roughly the same idea, but would occur in

different situations. The first sentence is fairly neutral (common

core) style, while the second one is very formal, in fact stilted, and

would only occur in a written business report.

In general, grammar rules of spoken sentences are rather simple and

less constructed than grammar of written sentences, especially in

agreements. It is more difficult to divide a spoken conversation into

separate sentences, and connections between one clause and the other

are less clear because the speaker relies more on the hearer’s

understanding of the context and situation, as well as on his ability

to interrupt if he fails to understand. The speaker is able to rely on

features of intonation which tells us a great deal that cannot be

reflected in written punctuation.

The grammar use in business correspondence is also different about

the pronouns who and whom, and the place of prepositions:

e.g. She wanted a partner for her business in whom she could

confide. (formal)

She longed for a partner (who) she could confide in.


In what country was he born? (formal)

What country was he born in? (informal)

Formal written language often goes impersonal style. That means

that one doesn’t refer directly to himself / herself or to his / her

readers, but avoids pronouns. Some of the common features of

impersonal language are passive sentences beginning with the

introductory word it and abstract nouns. The effect of the change into

a passive construction is to reverse the focus from the subject to the

object of speech.

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,


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,


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

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