Главная страница Случайная страница

Разделы сайта

АвтомобилиАстрономияБиологияГеографияДом и садДругие языкиДругоеИнформатикаИсторияКультураЛитератураЛогикаМатематикаМедицинаМеталлургияМеханикаОбразованиеОхрана трудаПедагогикаПолитикаПравоПсихологияРелигияРиторикаСоциологияСпортСтроительствоТехнологияТуризмФизикаФилософияФинансыХимияЧерчениеЭкологияЭкономикаЭлектроника

Chapter III. Socially regulated sublanguages

The use of the sublanguage fettered by formality is as wide as any other, since it is up to us what we regard as formal. There certainly are degrees of formality. Both the Charter of the United Nations (1945) and a business letter signed by a low-ranking official are formal, i.e. as the meaning of the adj ective formal necessarily implies devoid of any indication of private emotions (except when the subject is directly connected with emotions — say, in congratulations and condolences) and — what is perhaps of greater importance, or at least, quite indispensable — devoid of any trace of familiarity. It must be noted here that the word familiar is used here not in the sense of 'acquainted with', or 'known to', but, as The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it, 'unceremonious', 'over-free', 'treating inferiors or superiors as equals'.

Another remark that is of essence. The word officialese usually applies to over-refined, very elaborate, archaically stereotyped sets of linguistic units which are at least slightly ridiculous due to their exces­sive refinement. Here, in this book and in this chapter, the term is employed as a conventional denomination of any type or degree of of­ficialism.

A very rough and approximate gradation of sub-spheres and their respective sublanguages follows:

a) private correspondence with a stranger;

b) business correspondence between representatives of commercial or
other establishments;

c) diplomatic correspondence, international treaties, other documents;

d) legal documents (civil law — testaments, settlements, etc.; criminal
law — verdicts, sentences, etc.);

e) personal documents (certificates, diplomas, etc.).

Before giving a more or less detailed description of the above types, a few general or explanatory remarks may be made.

This is the sphere of written lingual intercourse, although texts of some of the types are read aloud in public.

Common to the genres enumerated is:

1. 'Superneutral' features of this whole group of sublanguages.

2. Socially established (as opposed to free creative) character, which,
as alluded to before, may be collectively referred to as archaic, i.e. either
obsolete or obsolescent.

3. Predetermined lingual form (in all the genres mentioned, though
the degree is, of necessity, different).

4. Cliches (different genres have stereotyped expressions of their own).



5. Long (polysyllabic) words of Latin or Greek origin, often euphemistic
as compared with their counterparts.

6. Periphrastic expressions where a single word might have done just
as well.

7. Complex syntax as compared to that of commonly bookish texts.

8. Established forms of composition that cannot be deviated from; they
naturally differ in each genre discussed below.

Letters. Tastes and fashions, rules of lingual behaviour included, change with the lapse of time. In the appendix to a dictionary compiled in Germany at the very beginning of this century one can see a collection of elaborate and overpolite letters, as well as recommended opening and closing parts of the same sort (" Kurschners Funf-Sprachen-Lexikon" — A Dictionary of Five Languages by Kurschner). Most of the 36 samples offered are uniform in the matter of direct address: nearly every letter begins with " Dear Sir", some with " Gentlemen", and only two with " Dear Sirs". No mention of a feminine addressee. Here are a few openings proposed to a letter-writer of the epoch; laconic, matter-of-fact, businesslike cliches alternate with florid wording:

The purpose of the present is to inform you...

From your favour of 15th inst. I learn with pleasure...

In reply to your favour of...

I beg to thank you for your kind letter of...

Though I have not yet the honour of being acquainted with you...

In pursuance of your kind favour of 28th ult. we beg to... Quite a number of concluding formulas were offered to the reader of some ninety years ago. Among them:

Yours truly

Your ever faithfully

Your very humble servant

I assure you of my feelings of respect and remain sincerely yours...

Hoping you will kindly comply with my request, I am, dear Sir, yours respectfully...

Please believe me to be your humble servant...

Always ready to serve you, we are respectfully yours... The only example of the close of a letter sent to a woman reads:

Allow me, dear Madam, to tell you that I am your most respect­ful and obedient servant...

Essentially different are the rules of epistolary intercourse of the epoch that began half a century later. The book Etiquette by Emily Post (New York, 1956), * published by E. Gluskina in an abridged form in this country

five years later, gives some important information on the forms of salutation and the complimentary close recommended. According to Emily Post, the most formal beginning of a social letter (i.e. not a business letter) is " My dear Mr. Smith" (in America); in Great Britain the more formal opening is " Dear Mr. Smith". She further gives a gradation of non-formal openings of social letters in America (from the more official one up to the most intimate): " Dear Mrs. Smith", " Dear Helen", " Sally, dear", " Dearest Sally", " Darling Sally".

The complimentary close in social letters is becoming less ornamental than it used to be, say, in the eighteenth century. Even phrases like " Kindest regards", " With kindest remembrances" are fast disappearing. What is left is practically nothing but an abrupt " Sincerely yours".

Business letters. This term implies commercial correspondence for the most part as the most typical, though the subject-matter of a business letter may have nothing in common with merchandise or financial matters. It is probably with reference to business correspondence that we may start speaking of officialese proper. A formal letter to an unknown person would be composed in accordance with certain rules. Formal usage is observed in everything, including the proper variety of direct address, as well as that of what is called the 'complimentary close' by Emily Post. Besides, there must be nothing superfluous in the text, nothing that would disclose subjective emotions, no strong expressions betraying passion or vehemence. And yet, this kind of letters is a borderline case. It would be too hasty to class them all as strictly official.

One more remark. A letter written by an educated person who has to discuss some financial or commercial matters, not being a professional banker or tradesman, will have to use some special terminology and phraseology, but still the most reliable samples of this type of speech are likely to be found in the correspondence of professionals.

Business letters are mostly very short (" Time is money! "). I.R. Galperin remarks that they hardly ever excede 8 or 10 lines.2 The rules of composition are very strict. The heading of the letter gives the address of the writer and the date (in the upper right-hand corner); next (lower, in the left-hand corner) the name of the addressee and his (her) address. Then follow: the polite form of direct address (mostly 'Dear Sir/s/', or 'Gentlemen' — the latter when addressing more than one individual). A personal name is practically never used in the direct address of a business letter. The text proper is followed (as we know) by the complimentary close and, finally, the signature of the sender. In one of Galperin's books the following closing phrases are given without any comment: Yours very truly... We remain your obedient servants...


Yours obediently...

Yours faithfully... Yours respectfully...

Emily Post is more particular on this point, informing the reader what expression ought to be used by whom, with reference to whom, and in what kind of letters. So she points out, for instance, that the close of a business letter should be " Yours truly" or " Yours very truly". " Respectfully", she says, is used only by a tradesman to a customer, by an employee to an employer, or by an inferior, never by a person of equal position. No lady, the reader is further made to know, should ever sign a letter " Respectfully", except as apart of the long, formal " have the honour to remain" close of a letter to the head of the Government.

It is known that, historically, openings and closing formulas were not mere tributes to the existing traditional standard, not customary signs of politeness no one takes notice of or pays attention to. Originally, they were functional necessities: a letter writer (especially one of a lower social standing than the addressee) was morally obliged to emphasize his submissiveness and humbleness, his inferiority to the person addressed. The words humble, obedient, faithful, servant and the like were meant to affect the person of high position, to beg for a morsel of the man's sympathy by lavishly flattering his pride. The learner, it is expected, knows about a similar social phenomenon in the history of Russia. The very action of asking for the sovereign's merciful attention was kneeling reverently and bowing so low as to strike one's forehead against the ground: бить челом; hence the archaic word челобитная (literally: 'forehead-beating') which meant 'petition' (an official juridical term before the eighteenth century).

In English letters of earlier centuries we can meet such pearls of timid submission and self-humiliation as: " / do most humbly entreat your honour to be pleased to procure me my audience from His Highness..." The close of the letter reads: " Your honour's most humble and obedient servant..." (from a letter quoted by Galperin in the above-mentioned book).

Business letters dealing with trade or finances abound in special terms. Even the following short acknowledgement contains, along with words used in every kind of more or less official written communication, also several lexical units dealing with pecuniary affairs. A few explanations concerning the former. The word favour is (or was) a trite metonymy of euphemistic and flattering nature, denoting the correspondent's letter; the abbreviation inst. standing for instant means 'of the current month'; ult. (standing for the Latin ultimo) means 'in the month preceding that now current'.

The terms used in the letter are: Inc. — 'incorporated' (formed into a corporation); remit (here: 'transmit money'); bill(here: 'order to pay'); drawee ('person on whom bill is drawn'); debit (here: 'charge with sum of money').

23 Convent. Street


March 21, 1992

Mr. Slatty & Sons, Inc. 12 Park Lane, London


We acknowledge receipt of your favour of 18. inst. By the present we beg to remit you two bills of £ 3410 together requesting you to get them accepted. If the drawees, contrary to all probability, should refuse acceptance, please return the bills without protest debiting us for your expenses.

Awaiting your reply we are, Gentlemen, Yours very truly

Johnson & Co.

Diplomatic sphere. It is evident a priori that diplomatic notes or other documents of international significance (especially treaties) determine the fate of whole nations, or even of the whole planet; therefore compilers of this kind of texts feel acute responsibility for what they undertake, for every word or expression that may be misinterpreted.

What is meant by the diplomatic sphere here concerns only what is written to be handed to the other party. To be sure, ambassadors and foreign ministers (Secretary of State in the USA), as well as Prime Minister or President (in Great Britain and the United States respectively) often converse in private. Naturally, their talks, though extremely official, are most probably not quite devoid of emotions and, generally, of deviations from diplomatic protocol, but being inaccessible to the rest of the world, give no grounds for discussion.

Public speeches of statesmen, as well as of diplomatists are made known to the public from parliamentary minutes — especially moves of some historic significance that appear in the dailies. Usually, a political figure has experience in speaking not only in a free and fluent manner, using, if necessary, complicated syntactical structures, but also employing impressive stylistic devices, to convince the listeners by both the factual and appellative qualities of his discourse. A diplomat, as well as a statesman (the latter being often in the former's shoes) are simultane­ously reticent, careful, and violently expressive, no matter if the speech was written previously or made offhand.


Most of the parliamentary speeches known to history must have been prepared in advance. A British Member of Parliament or a Con­gressman in the USA is expected to give his ideas, his political convic­tions, his platform not only good logical foundations, but artistic, emotive form as well. So, what we are discussing now is not diplomacy, only what approaches it in some ways: official public speeches. We shall have to return to them when discussing the sphere of law later on. Lord Byron's ardent speech in defence of the Luddites has been mentioned. Here, a few extracts from Patric Henry's speech before the Virginia Convention of 1775 will be quoted. The reader is sure to notice their generally exalted tone — the presence of tropes, allusions to mythology, archaic negatives, rhetorical questions, etc. In a way, what the speaker says reminds one — in some places at least — of a sermon:

" Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth — and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those, who having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not the things that so nearly concern their temporal salvation? (...)

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience (...)

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! "

As for documents (treaties, declarations, credentials, and the like), their wording can be collectively characterized as highly traditional, stereotyped, elaborate, and exacting: even a shade of ambiguity is to be avoided here — often at the cost of aesthetic value of the text in question. The characteristic is, of course, fully applicable to proceedings (i.e. to documentary records) of civil and criminal law. In the next section, the affinity of both diplomatic and legal spheres will be discussed and illustrated; here, to conclude the brief discourse on diplomacy and statesmanship, two extracts are given.


The Government of the United States of America, on behalf of itself and of the Governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Re­publics, and the Republic of China, invites the Government of (name of land invited) to send representatives to a Conference of the United Nations to be held on April 25, 1945, at San Francisco in the United States of America to prepare a charter for a general international organization for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The above-named governments suggest that the conference con­sider as affording a basis for such a charter the proposals for the establishment of a general international organization, which were made public last October as a result of the Dumbarton Oaks Con­ference, and which have now been supplemented by the following provisions for section С of Chapter VI...

The second extract is the beginning of the preamble to the famous document that gave birth to the UNO (United Nations Organization). The extract is quoted in the above-mentioned book of Galperin.



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 human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and nations large and small, and

to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the 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 people,



Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations."

For detailed treatment of business (the commercial sphere, diplomacy and statesmanship, as well as a number of other particular spheres and types of speech) the reader is advised to consult comprehensive monographs by I.R. Galperin and other well-known specialists in this country: I.V. Arnold, V. A. Kukharenko, A.N. Morokhovsky, and others. The present author's aim, as repeatedly declared above, is not the description of details, nor any attempt to provide learners with ready-made cribs — imaginary universal keys for practical analysis. The aim is to show stylistic problems in a systematic manner, without confusing language levels, as did most of the author's predecessors, that is to say, lexical level and semantic plane, morphemes with phonemes, logical syntax with communicative syntax, strictly differentiating problems of choice (stylistics of units) from problems of combination (stylistics of sequences). The author protests against what is obviously erroneous, especially against classifications which are unscientific, or illogical, or both.

Legal sphere. In many respects, the sphere to be discussed is in­separable from what has just been briefly outlined as Diplomacy and Statesmanship. Perhaps it would have been a more reasonable way to have mentioned Law first, as a generic term: it is clear that Law as the practice of social intercourse and as knowledge of how it is regulated includes International Law (and Diplomacy) as a very significant component, and yet as a logically lesser notion. The only reason why it is included here is that both civil and criminal law concern every citizen much more often than do international affairs. To use the current expression from the cradle to the grave (see The Mask of Anarchy, a poem by Shelley) would appear an understatement, a meiosis. Life in civilized countries is not measured by the period between birth certificate and death certificate only: in most cases it is preceded by the marriage lines of the person's parents and often followed by juridical legacy hunting.

Discussing the process of jurisprudence, one must not overlook the great difference between what is said in the arguments, in court and what is protocolled. The parties of the former, i.e. the prosecution and the defence, use legal terminology, employ the traditionally accepted formulas. Thus, in the USA, the prosecutor represents the people of the

State in which the session is held; he speaks in the name of the people, and refers to himself (or rather to his position in court) also as the People (the reader will see it in the extract below). In Britain, it is the Queen in whose name the defendant is accused of the crime committed (not the People of Britain!).

Here is an extract from An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, showing the whole of the verbal ritual of a session starting. All the announcements made are practically unchangeable (save, of course, the defendant's name). The extract does not fully reproduce Dreiser's text for lack of space; what is left out is certainly essential for the artistic value of the narrative, but we are interested here only in the verbal standards of the procedure, not as yet in Clyde Griffiths' inner world or in any external events of the moment:

" And then a voice: " Order in the Court! His Honor the Court! Everybody please rise! "... And as suddenly the... audience growing completely silent. And then through a door... a man in an ample black gown walked swiftly to the large chair... behind the desk, and... seated himself. Whereupon everyone assembled in the courtroom sat down.

And then to the left, yet below the judge, at a smaller desk, a smaller and older individual standing and calling, " Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the honorable, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Cataraqui, draw near and give attention. This court is now in session! "

And after that this same individual again rising and beginning: " The State of New York against Clyde Griffiths." Then Mason, rising and standing before his table, at once announced: " The Peo­ple are ready." Whereupon Belknap arose, and in a courtly and affable manner stated: " The defendant is ready."

Note. The interjection oyez [ou'jez], or oyes [ou'jes] means 'listen! ' and is used as a call for attention (going back to Old French oyez of the same meaning) is uttered (usually thrice) in English-speaking countries by public crier or court officer to bespeak silence and attention.

Readers of detective stories with court session scenes might know that the general routine is violent controversy of the two parties: the prosecutor and the defence. One of the legal tricks often resorted to consists in making the judge reject the question raised or asked by the opposite side, as immaterial, irrelevant, leading (i.e. helping the defen­dant or the witness to give the desired answer), etc. The judge either upholds the protest as legally motivated or repudiates the protester's motion. In legal terms, the objection is either 'sustained' (i.e. pronounced valid) by the judge, or 'overruled' (which means declared invalid).

A few instances from the same novel:


1. " Now, Mr. Alden, just tell the jury how... it was that your
daughter Roberta happened to go to Lycurgus."

" Objected to. Irrelevant, immaterial, incompetent, " snapped Belknap.

2. " Do you think that voice came from where this dot in Moon
Cove is? "

(Objected to. Sustained.)

3. " Do you always run away when one of them (girls — Y.S.)
dies? "

" Object, " yelled Belknap, leaping to his feet. " Objection sustained, " called Oberwaltzer sharply.

4. " You had to stand your share of whatever social doings were
on foot, didn't you? "

" Objected to as leading! " called Mason.

" Objection sustained, " replied Justice Oberwaltzer. The ritualistic sublanguage of Law is peculiar and in most cases ar­chaic: breach of promise, first degree murder, i.e. premeditated; manslaughter, i.e. causing death by chance or without intending to; formulas like the judgment of the Court is that you, Clyde Griffiths, for the murder in the first degree of one Roberta Alden, whereof you are convicted, be, and you are hereby sentenced to the punishment of death... — details follow. In Great Britain, the death sentence ended for centuries in the words to be hanged by his (her) neck till he (she) is dead. After the Second World War capital punishment was abolished in England as in certain other civilized countries: Italy, Federal Republic of Germany. In the USA it is nowadays non-existent in very few states; in most, people are either electrocuted, or hanged, or die in special gas chambers (every execution in America, as far as one can learn from some European books, is watched by whole teams of news-hounds and TV-cameramen). It is widely known that the questionable pleasure of watching the electrocution of the Rosenbergs (accused of and convicted for nuclear espionage) was bestowed on the American viewers as early as 1953. But to return to the problems of stylistics.

As suggested in the section on the Diplomatic Sphere, most oral proceedings dealing with real problems are also in legal matters not quite as subject to ritualistic cliches. More than that: the substance and form of a court session, of interrogation and cross-examination, what points may become controversial between prosecution and defence are unpredictable and sometimes become aggressive or offensive. Being part and parcel of every criminal case, both the Prosecutor's speech and the final speech of the Counsel for the defence are often little concerned with logic of facts or the intricacies of the penal code. What both of them think about is the local political situation, in which either party may at times

lose by winning, or vice versa. They must know exactly whom they seek to convince. The jury whose credit they are to win are not professional lawyers — just ordinary people, laymen in jurisprudence — God-fearing and law-abiding, but complacently ignorant in both. Twelve men picked out of many by mutual consent of the parties involved, are to come in the end to the verdict of 'Guilty' or 'Not guilty'. It is clear that neither deep psychological insight into the matter, nor strictly legal arguments will move the jury; they are prejudiced and sentimental; what can affect them (for lack of sensational testimony) is perhaps the oratory of the parties opposed: which will do his bit better? That is why the speeches of both show a strong resemblance in certain places: similar appeals to the jury's ability to see what is true and what is false, the same insinuating manner of address, the same sentimental philosophy of Love.

" Friends, this thing has happened millions of times in this world of ours; and it will happen millions and millions of times in the days to come..."

" For after all love is love, and the ways of passion and the de­stroying emotion of love in either sex are not those of the ordinary criminal. Only remember we were once all boys. And those of you who are grown women were girls, and know well — oh, how very well — the fevers and aches of youth..."

" But did he even do that? Never by letter! Never! Oh, no, gentlemen, oh, no! "

" Be sure! Oh, be very sure that no such mistaken j udgment based on any local or religious or moral theory of conduct... is permitted to prejudice you... Oh, be sure! Be very, very sure! " It is truly hard to say which is prosecution and which defence. All is sheer rhetoric, having no direct connection with the Legal Sphere discussed in the first half of this section.

Documentation sphere. The word document embraces many kinds of strictly official texts. In popular dictionaries this word is defined as 'thing, deed, writing or inscription that furnishes evidence' (or even 'illustrates human nature'). Obviously, this is too broad for a stylist. Here, the narrow (and best known) sense is meant: official written evidence, a text specially intended to serve as legal confirmation of some evidence.

Some types of documents have already been dealt with: receipts and accounts in commerce, parliamentary bills, acts of law in affairs of state, notes, diplomats' credentials, protocols, etc. These are all documents. Each kind has specific features of its own; their common feature is the use of ready-made expressions, cliches, without which they are hardly imaginable.

The present section deals, so to speak, with the acme (i.e. highest point) of the genre, with what practically consists only of stereotyped (often


" I Зак. 169

archaic) constructions, of special lexical units used nowhere except in the documents in question.

The documents meant are identity cards, certificates of all sorts, diplomas, etc. In many cases they are ready-made (printed) texts with blanks to fill in by the user (application forms).

It is here, in this monstrous progeny of our old bureaucracy, that we
find the purest samples of 'officialese'. Traditional obsolete forms of
expressing simple ideas in a complicated form predominate here. Even
in our country after the Revolution, every insignificant certificate
(справка) began with the words: Дана настоящая в том, что...
Official reports (акты) ran like this: Акт. 1939 года, мая, 17 дня, мы,
нижеподписавшиеся,.... составили настоящий акт о нижеследую­
The present author's own diploma of 1950 begins with Предъя­
витель сего тов.....
It is known that the demonstrative pronoun сей

was current (evidently as already obsolescent) in the first half of the nineteenth century.

As for American university diplomas, they look even more arehaic than ours. The reader had better make sure himself or herself:

The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York

To all persons to whom these presents may come greetings be it known that

© 2023 :: MyLektsii.ru :: Мои Лекции
Все материалы представленные на сайте исключительно с целью ознакомления читателями и не преследуют коммерческих целей или нарушение авторских прав.
Копирование текстов разрешено только с указанием индексируемой ссылки на источник.