Linguistic Pecularities Of Contracts in English

  Англо-русский экономический словарь. М., 1976. Арнольд И.В. Лексикология современного английского языка. М.: Изд-во лит-ры на иностр. языках, 1959.

Linguistic Pecularities Of Contracts in English



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Introduction 4


Chapter 1. Contracts. General characteristics and types7

  1. English of documents writing 7
  2. Theoretical problems of the language of documents 13
  3. The structure of contract and its essential clauses 15
  4. Types of contracts. Abbreviation 19


Chapter 2. Linguistic peculiarities of contract 23

2.1. Contract as a type of text and its stylistic characteristics 23

2.2. Grammatical peculiarities of contract 26

2.3. Lexical peculiarities of contract 32


Conclusion 38




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 clichés 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 peculiarities.

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 abbreviations);
  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 construction.


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 present

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