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Study on Principles in Business Letter Writing

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Study on Principles in Business Letter Writing

Study on Principles in Business Letter Writing

3070604

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    Study on Principles in Business Letter Writing3070604

    contents

    Abstract ......................................................................................................................... 3 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 4 Chapter 1 A Brief Study of English Business Letters .......................................................... 5

    1.1 Definition Of English Business Letters ................................................................. 5

    1.2 The Classification of English Business Letters ...................................................... 5

    1.3 Stylistic Features of English Business Lettersseven Cs ....................................... 6

    1.3.1 Completeness .......................................................................................... 6

    1.3.2 Concreteness ........................................................................................... 6

    1.3.3 Clearness ................................................................................................. 7

    1.3.4 Conciseness ............................................................................................. 7

    1.3.5 Courtesy .................................................................................................. 7

    1.3.6 Consideration .......................................................................................... 8

    1.3.7 Correctness ............................................................................................. 8

    Chapter 2 The Application of Other principles in business letters writing .......................... 9

    2.1 Cooperative principle ......................................................................................... 9

    2.2 Politeness principle ............................................................................................ 9

    Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 10 References ................................................................................................................... 11

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    Abstract

    English Business letters are important means and play a significant role in business activities .English business letters are regarded as the lifeline of modern

    business communication. The significance of English business letters determines the

    application of cooperative strategies and politeness strategies and others, that is, what language forms are used to present the politeness of the English business letters. The paper, on the basis of cooperative principle and politeness principle introduces the

    definition and stylistic features of English business letters, and deals with the 7C

    principle, revealing the application of cooperative principle and politeness principles in English business letter writing. The thesis provides a descriptive analysis on the application of cooperative. The thesis provides a descriptive analysis on the

    application of cooperative strategies and politeness strategies in the English business letters. However, the application of politeness strategies is variously manifested,

    among which similarities and differences coexist. Hopefully, this thesis can be of

    some help and give some inspiration to business people working on English business

    letter writing.

    Key words: English business letters; 7Cs ; Principle

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    Introduction

    Business letter referred in this study is a kind of letter dealing with business activities in international trades. In this modern society, it is still the major means of

    written communication in business. ―Broadly speaking, the functions of a business

    letter may be said to be: firstly, to ask for or to convey information; secondly, to make

    or to accept an offer; thirdly, to deal with matters concerning negotiation of business‖

    Good communication is so essential in business activities that it requires principles to guide communication. Business letters, as one of a firm's main means of

    communication with others, its quality is one of important elements for successful

    business, thus it needs to be attached much importance to improve the skills of writing

    good business letters. Judging from examples of the application of cooperative

    principle in successful communication, we had better to emphasize the role of

    applying the principle which will contribute to the improvement of business letters

    writing.

    People have found that cooperative principle has been widely applied in writing business letters in these years. Grice’s cooperative principle (CP) is one of the core

    ideas in Pragmatics which is significant in guiding verbal communication in the living

    world, and verbal communication includes oral communication and written

    communication. ―In fact, cooperative principle is very common not only in verbal

    communication but also in almost all human interaction‖. In business letters’ writing,

    the cooperative principle is used widely to achieve letter’s specific purpose.

    However, since the cooperative principle is followed reasonably instead of forcibly, the use of the principle does not mean that it will be followed by everybody

    all the time. Sometimes people violate the cooperative principle for special purpose

    which will generate conversational implicative. But taking business letters’ functions

    into consideration, it is not so often seen in written business communication.

    The business letter is the principal means used by companies; and effective communication produced by letter is very important for successful working of an

    organization. Thus, the duties of a business letter’s writer are far more than merely

    putting the message in correcting English. We should see to it that the message is

    likely to achieve the purpose for which it is written. This thesis attempts to analyze

    the application of cooperative principle in English business letters, in the hope of

    finding ways to write qualified business letters, thereby, offering help to the people

    involved in business affairs.

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    Chapter1 A Brief Study of English Business Letters

    The business letter is the basic means of communication between two companies. It is estimated that close to 100 million business letters are written each workday. It is

    a document typically sent externally to those outside a company but is also sent

    internally to those within a company. Business letters are regarded as the lifeline in

    business communication, therefore, it is necessary to write them successfully and

    politeness should be paid more attention to the business letters.

    1.1 Definition of English Business Letters

    Business is the activity conducted by organizations of paid people working together to produce and market goods and services for profit. Thereby, business

    communication is the process of transacting meanings through written, oral, and

    nonverbal messages internal and external to organizations of paid people working

    together to produce and market goods and services for profit. Written communication

    in business is extremely important because you can refer back to what was said.

    Business letters are letters written in a formal language, usually used when writing from one business organization to another, or for correspondence between

    such organizations and their customers, clients and other external parties.

    Business letters have been regarded as the lifeline of modern business. It is an act of business communication by means of the written message between the businesses

    parties involved.

    1.2 The Classification of English Business Letters

    According to common practice, English business letters may be classified from various angles. The most common ways of classification are as follows:

    1) Classification is made according to the contents of the letter. The

    followings are among the most frequent in use: request letters, letters answering

    requests, claim and adjustment letters, credit and collection letters, sales letters,

    employment letters and social business letters, etc.

    2) Classification is made according to the different functions in the process

    of a business transaction of the letter. Business letters may be used in every phase

    of business activities. There are letters for establishment of business relations,

    letters for the inquiry of business. There are quotation letters, negotiating letters,

    ordering letters, confirming order letters, payment letters, shipment and insurance

    letters, acknowledging goods receipt letters, claim letters and so on.

    3) Classification is also made according to the nature of the information

    given. There are usually three broad categories of business letters, namely routine

    letters negative news letter’s persuasive letters. Each of the three categories is to

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    be inspected separately in the study as each of them has its particular characters

    concerning the degree and types of FTAs. Therefore, differences in the

    distributions of politeness strategies among the three categories are expected.

    Since English business letters have so many types, it is impossible in this

    thesis to make a complete and clear classification. It is noticeable that there is an

    overlap between some types of letters suggested above, so sometimes it is difficult

    to distinguish one kind of letters from another.

    1.3Stylistic Features of English Business Letters

    Based on cooperative and politeness principles, seven Cs, courtesy,

    consideration, are concluded as principles of business communications. They

    provide guidelines for choice of contented style of presentation, adapted to the

    purpose and receiver of the message delivered.

    1.3.1 Completeness

    A business English letter is very successful and highly effective well only

    when it contains all the necessary information to the readers (the counterpart

    or the public) and answers all the questions and requirements put forward by

    the readers.

    In order to verify the completeness of what you write, five Ws (who,

    what, when, where and why) and one h (how) should be used. For example,

    if what you write is a letter of order, you should make it clear what who wants

    to order, what he wants, when he needs the goods, where the goods to be sent

    and how payment will be made. If some special requirements should be put

    forward, you would explain why you would do so. Incompleteness of a

    business letter will lead to the counterparts unfavorable impression toward

    your firm or even the miss of a deal.

    1.3.2 Concreteness

    Any kind of practical English writing should be specific, definite and

    persuasive instead of being vague, general and abstract. In a general and vague

    message, everything seems to be mentioned but actually few are fully

    expounded. The readers only have a vague impression of what you try to

    achieve, so he or she is at a loss how to react upon reading you message e.g.

    We wished to confirm our telex dispatched yesterday.

    It is not suitable to be used here. The sentence should be changed into:

    stWe confirm our telex of May 1, 2010.

    stMay 1 is a definite and specific concept, containing concrete message.

    Form the example, we can clearly see that when writing a business letter,

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    concreteness must be always stressed. In order to give the readers a clear and

    definite impression, its better to use specific facts, figures and time.

    1.3.3 Clearness

    Clearness is one of the main language features of the practical English

    writing. The so-called clearness is to make sure that what you write is so clear that it cant be misunderstood. So it is advisable to write on not above

    or below the level of the readers understanding and to make the reader understand the main points without thinking deeply.

    Therefore, when writing a business letter, when should make clear whom

    or what the pronoun refers to. And whats more, we should also pay attention to the relations between the relative pronoun and the antecedent, or the readers

    will find it difficult to understand.

    1.3.4 Conciseness

    Conciseness is often considered to be the most important writing

    principle and language and language feature. It enables to save both the

    writers and the recipients time. Conciseness means we should clearly express

    what we would do in a short and pithy style of writing as possible as we can

    without sacrificing completeness, concreteness and courtesy. Compare the

    following pairs of sentences e.g.

    a. Wordy: I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for your

    kind cooperation.

    b. Concise: thank you for your cooperation.

    The second sentence is concise, for the writer tries to use everyday

    expressions and modern English, avoiding wordiness, out-of-date commercial

    jargons and unnecessary repeat.

    1.3.5 Courtesy

    Courtesy is an important language feature of international business letters.

    A letter expressed in the way of refined and courteous urbane can make

    yourself set up an honest and enthusiastic image in the eyes of the readers who

    will be glad to cooperate with you and serve you wholeheartedly. Courtesy not

    only means politeness, but also means thinking about the interests of the

    customers and offering the customer convenience in his work. In order to

    achieve courtesy, wed better use more expressions with the meaning of joy,

    willingness, thanks, regret, and more expressions with requesting tone and

    more mitigating expressions, such as please (kindly) , we are afraid that ,

    we should (might) say , we would suggest , thank you for , we would

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    appreciate it and so on.

    1.3.6 Consideration

    A letter functions well if it can deeply impress influence on its recipient.

    To gain such a favorable impression and influence, we should put ourselves in

    the position of the recipient, taking into consideration his demand, hope,

    interests etc. Everybody may have his own inconveniences. Thoughtful

    consideration enables us to better understand our recipient, thus our

    requirement will be more practical and understandable. Therefore, when

    writing, it is better for the writer to take the recipients attitude, namely, you

    attitude and try to discuss problems in a positive way. Please compare the

    following sentences:

    a. We allow a 5% discount for cash payments.

    b. You earn a 5% discount when you pay cash.

    1.3.7 Correctness

    Practical English writing for international business, especially, business

    letters often are bases for various commercial documents such as contracts,

    agreements, so they are concerned with the rights, obligation, etc. of the two

    sides of a trade, the fact of which must attract the writers special attention.

    Therefore, the expression in business letters must be correct and the facts,

    words and figures must be accurate and should not be overstated or

    understand.

     Now we have a clear idea of the language feature of business English

    letters and we also know how to bring about these seven Cs. A good and

    appropriate business letter should have all the seven language features, which

    embody in the words, sentences and tones. Any one of the features is equally

    important to the other features and we cannot achieve one feature by sacrificing

    the others so as to create good will and leave good impression on the reader and

    avoid disputes. As for whatever sort of business English letter, the manner of

    speaking is very important. Its better to writer in a polite, respectful and positive way, showing your willingness to cooperate. Even if the customer has done

    something unsatisfied, wed better point out in a tactful way. Most important, putting your reader first.

    For all writers the most important people are their readers. If you keep your

    readers in mind when you write, it will help you use the right tone, appropriate

    language and include the right amount of detail.

    They don't want muddled thinking, background information they already

    know business-speak and jargon or waffle.

    Above all, they want to get the gist of your message in one readingthey

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    don’t want to dig for the meaning through long sentences and a boring style. So if

    you always keep your readers in mind, you will have to adapt your style and

    content to meet their needs.

    Ask questions to get a clear picture of your readers.

    Who are my readers?

    What do they already know about the subject?

    What do they need to know?

    Will they understand technical terms?

    What information do they want?

    What do I want them to do?

    What interests or motivates them?

    What prejudices do they have?

    What worries or reassures them?

    What will persuade them to my view?

    What other arguments do I need to present?

    How are they likely to react to what I say? Chapter 2 The Application of Other principles in business letters writing

    2.1 Cooperative principle

    We can analyze the cooperative strategies from four parts, the maxim of quantity, the maxim of quality, the maxim of relation, the maxim of manner to apply these

    strategies into English business letters writing.

    2.2 Politeness principle

    Words of the same meaning may have different effects on the conveying of politeness. Therefore, the techniques of using words and expressions play a

    significant role in expressing politeness in English business letters.

    (1) Using you-attitude language

    (2) Using positive words

    (3) Using specific words instead of general words

    (4) Avoid using sexist language

    (5) Using affirmative sentences

    (6) Using short sentences

    (7) Using active voice

    (8) Using positive words and expressions

    (9) Using vague language

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    Conclusion

    In this thesis, we discuss the definition, the classification, the stylistic features of

    English business letters. 7Cs and cooperative principle and politeness principle are

    employed to give theoretical support to the strategies of achieving effective and

    efficient communication in business letters.

    By studying the business letters, it is found that the application of 7Cs,

    cooperative and politeness strategies exists in almost every aspect of business letters.

    No matter in what kind of English business letters, positive words and expressions can

    always arouse the readers positive response. And whatever the types of English business letter it is, affirmative sentence is language is common in the two types of

    English business letters. Hopefully, the study of this thesis can give some inspiration

    to people working on business letter writing.

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