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Lecture 1: The myths about business correspondence
20.02.2012, 10:18
Lecture 1: The myths about business correspondence. 1. A good business letter must produce a business impression by sending signals of formality such as business clichés. 2. A business format of the letter is crucial to efficient business communication. 3. Grammar, style and spelling are crucial to efficient business communication. 4. A business letter must clearly express yourself. 5. The predominant direction of translation is into one’s native language. 1) A good business letter must produce a business impression by sending signals of formality such as business clichés. Many people mix up business jargon with business style. To be business-like they overload their letters with such clichés as: As per your request, please find enclosed herewith a check in the amount of $17. (Согласно Вашей просьбе к настоящему письму прилагается чек на сумму $17). Such expressions as herewith and as per make an irrevocable damage: they obscure information and inevitably slow down its reception. Think about the recipient! It would be much better to write: As you requested, I am enclosing a check for $17. По Вашей просьбе прилагаю чек на $17. The paradox about business letters is that the less business formulas are used the better [Гуринович, 2003]. "The myth about business correspondence is that it must be formal, standardized and often terse. The writer seems to transform him/herself from the personal to the institutional. Letters appear to be written from one "institution” to another rather than from person to person. This does nothing more than create ineffective communication. It is important to develop a good writing style that not only reflects good grammar and sentence structure, but also gives the reader some insight into the personality of the writer. It is just as important, however, to be able to express yourself in clear, concise language so the reader knows exactly why you are writing” [http://www.missouriwestern.edu/careerdevelopment/pdf/buscorr.pdf – подчёркнуто мной V. O.]. 2) A business format of the letter is crucial to efficient business communication. "Good writing is not about formats, commas, or even specific words. At rock bottom, the issue of writing well – at least in the business world – is about time: 1. the time it takes you to write something; 2. the time it takes others to read and understand it. The two are directly related: the less time you put into your writing, the more time others will have to put into understanding it” [Marty Stuckey. The Basics of Business Writing]. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0814477925/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&seller=#reader_0814477925 Everyone is interested in the "bottom line": the point you are making about a situation or problem and how they should respond. 3) Grammar, style and spelling are crucial to efficient business communication. As Dennis Baron put it, "Aside from a person’s physical appearance, the first thing someone will be judged by is how he or she talks” (Dennis Baron [MacNeil, 2005: 10]). Grammar, style and spelling are helpful, but not crucial: "Once you begin to think of a letter as a piece of literary work its charm vanishes…” [Kathleen Baron.Good English: 155] Paraphrazing K. Baron, honesty and simplicity comprise the essence of good business letter writing. This strategy finds its expression in simplicity and appropriateness. 4) A business letter must clearly express yourself. "Your business in a letter is not only to express yourself, but to express your relationship to the person to whom you are writing. Let not they say to you as Queen Victoria said to Mr. Gladstone: "He addresses me as if I were a public meeting!” [Kathleen Baron.Good English: 156] Many formulas of business letters have nothing to do with the intention to make the message clear, but the aim at conveying information to the addressee in such a way so that the sender’s personality should be likeable to the addressee. In terms of Roman Jakobson, it means bringing to the foreground the phatic function of the language that is so crucial to the art of translation [Newmark, 2003: 43]. 5) The predominant direction of translation is into one’s native language. This idea originates in John Dryden’s famous formula: "The qualification of a translator worth reading must be a mastery of the language he translates out of, and that he translates into; but if a deficience be to be allowed in either, it is in the original, since if he be but master enough of the tongue of his author as to be master of his sense, it is possible for him to express that sense with eloquence in his own, if he have a thorough command of that.” [Dryden, 1992: 30]. This formula is backed up by the translation practice of the United Nations and other international organizations. However, very few translators work for such organizations as the United Nations, OPEC, NATO, the European Council etc. Besides, even in these organizations interpreters very often find themselves in situations when they are commissioned to translate both ways. There are numerous examples testifying to it in the Moscow periodical of «Мосты». The organizations mentioned above are political organizations. The situation will be different if we should turn our attention to the translation practice in business organizations. Absolute dominance of English in business finds its expression in that many multinationals maintain not only exterior but interior business communication in English. And it happens in the context of the minority of the communicants having a decent command of English [Палажченко, Мосты 2004, № 2: 8]. Many businessmen have got used to translating business letters from English with the help of on-line translation and dictionaries, but very few of them can produce a business letter in English for themselves. It is here where a translator comes into the picture. And it means that in the world of business Dryden’s formula has lots of room for criticism and improvement. Translating from your native language into English is a frequent, unavoidable and predictable practice in business situations. There is no doubt that it is more challenging than translating from English into your mother tongue.
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