With the accelerated process of economic globalization,the business dealings between countries become more frequently and closely.In order to achieve better status in the world’s market, and to maintain good relations with cooperation around the world promoting the development of economy,business communication is particularly important. As a convenient effective and global means,business English become the main means to communicate between multinational corporations. This thesis is an endeavor to adopt a series of methods including the method of literature review and the method of case study to study high frequency sentences of Business English, with an aim to help business people realize and improve their business communicative competence in international and cross-cultural context. Based on the study, we may come to the conclusion that there are four categories of high frequency sentences of Business English including declarative sentences and imperative sentences, passive voice sentence, simple sentence and polite formulas.
Key Words: Business English, high frequency sentences, analysis
1.1 Research background
With the accelerated process of economic globalization,the business dealings between countries become more frequently and closely.In order to achieve better status in the world’s market, and to maintain good relations with cooperation around the world promoting the development of economy,business communication is particularly important.
As a convenient effective and global means,business English become the main means to communicate between multinational corporations. If the words and sentences in of Business English letter are strictly following the principles, it can contribute to the formation of a harmonious relationship between the two sides of business thus facilitate to conduct the international business activities.Business English is a professional English application aiming to promote the business effectively and carry out commercial activities in all aspects correspondingly. At the same time,the development of electronic information technology brings great convenience to international business,a dozen years ago, the communication of international business is still through telegraph or meeting.While now telex communication has gradually been replaced by mutimedia video conference which is clear,direct and efficient modern communication way.
As an important means of communication in modern business activities,business English is playing an increasingly important role in international business communication which has become the most basic way to exchange information. In this case, we have to be clear about the high frequency sentences of Business English so that we can be professional in communicating with each other smoothly.
According to He Chenang(2009), people often need to communicate with people who they do not know very well and have to avoid any errors and misunderstandings in the process of transmitting information.At the same time,people have to shorten the time for sending and receiving business information as much as possible for the sake of improving the efficiency of communicating. However,the rapid spread of Business English, people tend to overlook the proper application of accurate sentences in international business.An unregulated business sentences will not only harm the company's image, but also may be puzzling for the people who read it.If an error appears during the communication, it may lead to the failure and heavy economic losses in business.
Qin Xiaojie(2011) proposed that it is necessary to establish the universally recognized international exchanging statement so that different native speakers from different cultural backgrounds can use this standard to communicate smoothly. The correct sentence of Business English is an important in modern business, it is not only fully reflected in the session and discourse, it has been widely implemented in the daily conversation. After China's accession to WTO and the increase of world’s economic trade and exchanges,business English is regarded as the style of sudden emergence,it is more and more widespread and gets lots of attention. Many researchers made useful explorations for the efficiency in business English from the perspective of words, sentences and other stylistic features in business English. These studies provide theoretical guidance for us to draw a clearer framework for business English.Business English is a skill lesson aiming to develop international business and international trade,such as the direction guiding students in English business communication in order to achieve a variety of business purposes.It is an important communication channel for business activities.
1.2 Significance of the thesis
Figuring out and summarizing high frequency sentences of Business English which can be considered as the way to exchange and contact with people,it also has the same function as communication in the real world which can express implications and emotions of people. In international business activities, if one side of the conversation do not understand the appropriate words in English as well as professional sentences to express themselves,there will be pragmatic failures appearing. This thesis is an endeavor to adopt a series of methods to study high frequency sentences of Business English, with an aim to help business people realize and improve their business communicative competence in international and cross-cultural context.
1.3 Method of the thesis
A. The method of literature research
Literature research method mainly refers to the collection, identification, and sorting of literature,and through the study of literature to form scientific understanding of the facts. Literature research method transcends the constraints of time and space, through the survey of ancient and modern, domestic and abroad literature can get extremely a wide range of information. In this thesis, the author collects and systematizes the literature at home and overseas of high frequency sentences of Business English.
B. The method of case study
The method of case study is a kind of research methods that discover the intrinsic link between the that be investigated, with the scientific attitude of researchers, by mastering the literature's information and materials to help people to understand the truth. The purpose of case study is to investigate the occurrence and changes of a particular event or thing, and answer the questions of "why" and"how". This thesis describes and analyzes different cases of Business English conversation or letters, and shows high frequency sentences of Business English.
1.4 Organization of the thesis
The thesis can be divided into four parts. The first part will be the introduction including the background, significance,methods of the thesis. The second part will be literature review including the definition, characters and previous study of Business English. The third part introduces high frequency sentences of Business English. The final part will be the conclusion.
2.1 Definition of Business English
When speaking of the definition of business English, there is no an unified opinion. Lots of researchers have defined Business English from their own distinctive point of view.
According to Fang Chunxiang(2005), Business English refers to the application of English in global business affairs, namely, to use professional English words to deal business activities.
According to Huang Xuefang(2006), Business English refers to the language used to conduct business activities by people who work in business fields which has specific words, sentences and texts in oral and written forms and to achieve the purpose of business dealings under the guidance of practice.
Gimenez (2006) has expressed a similar point of view concerning business English, who believes that business English formerly belonging contents into a cross-discipline concept including international to ESP has been enlarged in trade, finance, commercial law, e-commerce, and cross-culture communication, etc.
2.2 Characteristics of business English
Intention is the most significant feature of Business English. Intention means that Business English is used in business dealings. Language is used to achieve an end, and its successful use is found as a successful outcome to the business transaction or activity. And the language needed by businessmen is regarded to be transactional: getting what you want and persuading others to agree with the course of action you propose.
Businessmen of international trade will communicate and interact with many clients from different countries. They have different cultural background and behave differently. So, there should be an acceptable for the businessmen to interact with foreigners, as both parties desire to establish a good relationship in a limited time, so that social contacts are often highly ritualized and their language used adheres to a principle of courtesy and objectivity.
The conversation between international businessmen should be clear. They would better express themselves in short, clear and exact words. Information has to be conveyed with minimum risk of misunderstanding, and the time for both speaker and listener needs to be short, Therefore, there is a preference for clear, concise, and logic language used in business settings; wordy business jargons has to be avoided.
2.3 Previous study on Business English
Business English attracted increasing interests and awareness from both linguists and professionals from business community.
Gimenez (2006:54) defines Business English is "a device used in order to reduce friction in personal interaction."behavior as "social-culturally determined behavior directed towards the goal of establishing and or maintaining in a state of equilibrium the personal relationships between the individuals of a social group".
Williams(2001) classifies illocutionary acts of Business English into five categories, and points out that when the prepositional content of an illocution acts of Business English is discourteous to the reader or hearer in so far as it attributes some effort, trouble, or cost to the reader or hearer, the illocutionary goal can be achieved in an indirect way. In directives, politeness is the chief motivation for indirectness.We can also find the usefulness of indirect speech acts.
While the Chinese scholars give different opinions about Politeness Principle of acts of Business English in China. The past time witnessed the development and gradual progress of politeness study in China,which contained mainly attempts at testing the actual use of theories proposed by the Western scholars, exploring the features of Chinese politeness and formulating new theories according to Chinese characteristics.He Ziran (1995) claimed that politeness in Business English is a social phenomenon, a means to achieve good interpersonal relationships, and a form imposed by social conventions. Jin Li(2005) and Chen Ang (2009) have introduced the findings of Business English in the West;Huang Xuefang(2006)expounded the application of the accurate sentences in business letters from three points of view, words, ways of delivering message and manners in business operations.
According to Zhang Xiujuan(2008:22), Business English should combine Politeness Principle and the Cooperative Principle,but as the necessary supplement to bridge the gap of Cooperative Principle. Politeness can be used as a strategy to help the speaker reach the communicative goal and it also can demonstrate the human civilization and social status in communication. If the speaker expresses the impolite or rude statement, it would offend against other people. Hence, Politeness Principle plays an essential role in modulating interpersonal relationship and getting good impression from the other. Si Chuande(2013:44) illustrated the relation of Politeness Principle to politeness phenomenon and speech ethic and the appropriateness of showing degree of different language phenomenon in business letters ; and pointed out that different Politeness Principles in different cultures were indispensable for conduction successful business in commercial correspondence or conversation.
3. High Frequency Sentences of Business English
3.1 Frequent use of declarative sentences and imperative sentences
Normally, declarative sentences are used to stress the beginning of a conversation or letter indicating illustrations or decision technically. In most cases, these sentences are dominant for the whole conversation or letter. People involved in business dealings often adopt declarative sentences to express demands. While only in some specific circumstances, people only use interrogative sentences to make statement. And in most cases, exclamatory sentences are not used in Business English. Both of the two kinds of sentences are used to express the opinion of one side and exchange corresponding information with the other side of business dealings. The examples can be found in the followings:
A: Hello,Kim, I have known your opinion. I would like to know if you can accept a sample charge of $50. That is what another manufacturer is quoting, and I can show you if you like. I am getting samples which were made from two manufacturers, one is your company, in case the finished product doesn't come out as desired and to see what the differences are between each.
B: I see. I can understand and I would inform you if we can move forward with the $50 sample. And thank you for offering to refund. (林晓琳,2012)
In the example 1, six of all sentences are declarative sentences accounting 86% of the whole conversation and the imperative sentences account for 14%. Based on the figures, we may come to the conclusion that declarative sentences are used during the most of time. And at the same time, imperative sentences are used in business conversation. In fact, we can notice imperative sentences in each phases of business conversation or letter which conveys the information that both declarative sentences and imperative sentences can be found in Business English. When talking about imperative sentence, it can be considered as a way to put forward demand or call attention. We can figure out these two functions of imperative sentence from the following examples.
Please send your sample to our head office ASAP.
Please kindly advise your packing requirements.
Please give me the price for PP bag with header.
Please inform us if we can move forward with the $50 sample.
Please coloring it in full, please test smaller areas. (林晓琳,2012)
All these sentences in example 2 are used to express the requests or demands. We may come to the conclusion that when people want to show their bothers for others, they would choose imperative sentences.
Please find the attachments.
Please pay attention to the following content.
Please remind me of your accepted forms of payment for sampling.
Please find our sample invoice as attached.
Please kindly noted don't indicate any "Trade" or "Business" on the purpose for this remittance. (林晓琳,2012)
All the sentences in example in example 3 are used to remind people of things they should do. We may come to the conclusion that, in business dealings, when each side wants to lay emphasis on something, they would adopt imperative sentences to make the other side focus on the thing
Business in not like other common occasions. The focus of the conversation and letters which are involved in business is time. Because each side of business cares about the time and money, the sooner they can make a deal, the sooner the purpose of conversation or letter can be achieved. Even though, the imperative sentences are considered to be impolite, both sides do not waste their time on useless sentences or words. In this case, people involved in business conversation prefer to adopt simple sentences to express their opinions clearly making themselves understood easily by others. Therefore, in case of being considered impolite, people would add “please” before the imperative sentences which is a direct and polite way to express their opinions clearly and briefly in the conversation or letter.
In terms of interrogative sentence, it is always used to raise questions. In business conversation or letter, people use interrogative sentences to put forward questions. At the end of the conversation or letter, interrogative sentences are used to indicate or illustrate things. We can find out this function of interrogative sentence from the following examples:
Can you give me the detailed requirements of the metal butterfly?
When can you send the offer? Can you send it to me before the end of this month? Can the size be modifred for bulk order if the sample turns out too small or big?(林晓琳,2012)
The interrogative sentence are used in Business conversation or letters because it can indicate the polite implications to others which is significant for the smooth conduction of business. For the whole conversation or letter, interrogative sentences seem to be not respectful for others.
3.2 Frequent use of passive voice
Considering the stylistic factors and language environment of business English, people involved in business ought to be objective instead of putting individual’s feelings, opinions or emotions into the sentences of Business English. Therefore, for the sake of conducting business activities successfully, being objective is critical. In the conversation or letter, people ought to focus on the things instead of people as well as be in case of making other side feel there is something wrong in their expressions. There are some examples following for this point:
(a):Mistake has been make because of carelessness.
You made a mistake because of carelessness.
(b):The design should be copied exactly in terms of shape and proportions.
You should copy the design exactly in terms of shape and proportions. (林晓琳,2012)
We can find out the politeness of passive voice sentences from the comparison between the first sentence and the second sentence of (a) and (b). The first sentence of example(a), this sentence indicates an error has been made because of carelessness, in this sentence, the people who made a mistake has not been mentioned. Instead, the second sentence of example(a), this sentence not only stressed there is a mistake, but also the people which is “you” made the mistake. In the example(b), the first sentence stressed the shape and proportions of the design should be copied, and the second sentence of example(b) stressed the people who should be responsible of the design. Each second sentence of (a) and (b) would give people feelings of being commanded which is impolite.
From the statement above, being objective in Business dealings is critical and at the same time, passive voice sentence can make the listeners feel the speaker is objective and professional. We can figure out this point from the following example:
Sent: 06/04/2012, 08:42
Your letter concerning packing requirements reached us the day before yesterday. We are now making arrangements accordingly.
Each glass is packed in a polythene bag, then put into a foamed plastic casting, which is finally placed in a decorative cardboard box in tum, 10 boxes to a carton, which is specially designed to ensure no movement possible inside. All the cartons are to be lined with damp-proof paper, bound with double straps outside. All the cartons are up to export standard and are strong enough for ocean transportation.
We trust you will find the packing satisfactory.
From the sentence “Each glass is packed in a polythene bag, then put into a foamed plastic casting, which is finally placed in a decorative cardboard box in turn, 10 boxes to a carton, which is specially designed to ensure no movement possible inside.”. we can realize that the passive voice sentences are used including "is packed", "is put into", "is finally placed" and "is specially designed". All there passive voice sentences are used to lay emphasis on the matters or things instead of people who conducted the behaviors. In addition, the people who read the letters can understand the important information the writer wants to convey clearly and smoothly.
From the analysis, we may come to the conclusion that adopting passive voice sentences can help the writer of the letter criticize the reader of the letter indirectly indicating the respect and consideration to the readers which are significant for the reader of the letter. These indications can be illustrated by the Leech's politeness principle which is minimize and maximize. According to .Leech (1993),the politeness is“a means of avoiding conflict in personal interaction.That is, politeness is a kind of pragmatic strategy used by the speaker to reach the communicative goal.”Politeness principle is the assumption and interpretation of Leech in 1983.He observed that people use language complying with certain principles in speech and communication both consciously and unconsciously.After continuous inference and verification,he finally put forward the politeness principles theory in his book <Principles of Pragmatics> based on cooperative principle of Grice (1975).In 1983,G.Leech put forward the Politeness Principle on the basis of Grice's Cooperative Principle to account for why people deliberately flout Cooperative Principle and why they express their ideas implicitly rather than explicitly.Leech (1983:132)developed six maxims and specified each maxim with two sub-maxims as follows:
Minimize benefit to self
Maximize benefit to other
B. Generosity Maxim
Minimize cost to other
Maximize cost to self
C. Approbation Maxim
Minimize dispraise of other
Maximize praise of other
D. Modesty Maxim
Minimize praise of self
Maximize dispraise of self
E. Agreement Maxim
Minimize disagreement between self and other
Maximize agreement between self and other
F. Sympathy Maxim
Minimize antipathy between self and other
Maximize sympathy between self and other
3.3 Frequent use of simple sentences
Simple sentence which is also call independent sentence refers to the sentence containing a subject and a verb expressing the complete thought. Simple sentence is considered as the most common type of sentence. In terms of sentences of Business English, if there is no need to put forward the people who conduct the behavior of the doer, or people do not want to say the people who conduct behavior, people would use simple sentences because of the difference existing in the structure and habits of expressions in English and Chinese. When simple sentences are carried out business English, the expression of Chinese and English should be taken into consideration. We can figure out this point from the following example:
A:Hi Kim.Sorry, but the PP bag is a condition from our client. Sorry we can't change it. Please give me the price for PP bag with header.
B: OK. That will be all right. (林晓琳,2012)
“Sorry, we can't change it.” is a simple sentence which is clear for B to understand. For the common sense, a long sentence would make people confused which needs time for people to understand thoroughly. But the simple sentences can make the reader understand the meaning easily instead of making the whole text clumsy and difficult to read and thus facilitating clear communication.
Therefore, in Business English, people always adopt simple sentences to express themselves because of its simplicity and convenience.
It conforms to Leech's Maxim of quantity: "Make your contributions as informative as is required". If we study the relationships of these six principles carefully,we will find there is some overlapping between each other.At the same time,if we look at the actual affairs recalling our own experience in conversation everyday,we will find that every principle in Leech’s theory is very reasonable which can be explained through the facts in many natural language. But if we only adopt simple sentences in Business English, the whole conversation or letter would appear to be dull, boring and unprofessional. Therefore, both simple sentences and long,complex sentences are necessary for Business English.
3.4 Frequent use of polite formulas
For the sake of expressing corresponding information, there are many stylized polite formulas in Business English from the the long-term practice which can be considered as the significant feature of Business English. These polite formulas in Business English make it be one of a kind comparing with other forms of English.
As we know, the first impression is important no matter in business dealings or daily communication. Therefore, the first sentence of business conversation, negotiation or letter is extremely significant. For the sake of indicating the politeness, there are lots of various polite formulas used in Business English in different occasions. This point can be illustrated through the following examples:
Sent: 23/02/2012, 09:16
Our order No 456 of March 12 has been received.
We have checked the shipment carefully. However, we found that they are not of the quality we ordered. The quality of them is inferior that we feel a mistake has been made because of carelessness.. Therefore, we have no choice but to send them back and replace the items with the quality we ordered.
We hope to solve this matter amicably and look forward to your early reply.
The first sentence “Our order No 456 of March 12 has been delivered.” is often used to notify the reader the corresponding information through the words or terms "inform", ""see", "enclosed" at the beginning of the letter.
There are also some other examples, such as “Please see the attached for more examples of the whale's coloring.”, “We have received your letter of December 20th and noted with interest your intention of pushing the sale of our automobiles in your country.", “We have confirmed receipt of US$50, 000 in our account with the Showa Bank, Shibuya Branch, this morning.” and “I have read your products.”
All the examples can express the letter, products or other things have been received. These expressions can help people of the other side confirm the corresponding information they need to know. With the help of these expressions, a lot of errors can be excluded.
From: Leslie Zhang
To: Kim Ye
Thank you for these attachments. They are similar to what I had in mind:)
You asked me what style I prefer from them....I like the last one the best. But we are not copying that one.. just copy the colors. I sent to you and the design should be copied exactly (in terms of shape and proportions). The waves are hollow in between and that's about it. I like the glossy effect of the paint. Does it last for many years??
I think it would be a good idea to just cut out the shapes and put it together and only put on a little bit of paint and see how it looks before finishing the painting. We can put spots of paint and them judge the combination.
“Thank you for these attachments.” in example is adopted in example 10 to indicate the appreciate for the counterpart has done.
There are also some other examples, such as “Thank you for your email.”, “Many thanks for this information.”, “Thank you for your attention.”, “I appreciate your detailed explanation.”, “OK, thank you for you understanding.” and “Thank you for making the modifications.”
In the process of China's reform and opening,some laws are not perfect, some original institutional issues and policies are not in line with international practice.In that situation, cross-cultural business between Chinese enterprises and foreign enterprises in our country are more complicated filled with difficulties.We must look for the ultimate goal of the business and work for it actively with series of professional English.We have to adopt a flexible attitude on the issue in the conversations,negotiations or letters in particular that we can solve the problem encountered in the conversations,negotiation and letters successfully achieving objectives. English business sentence reveals that international business negotiators are often unaware of how their behavior is affected by cultural practices and values and they often intentionally or unintentionally use their own criteria to interpret and judge other people's culture in international business negotiations assuming other people's behavior and his own are the same thing.This kind of cultural views would mislead negotiators and make them make the wrong decisions.In international business negotiations,conversations and letters, we must establish cross cultural awareness at the same time. People involved in business have to recognize the demands,motivations, different beliefs of different cultural backgrounds.They have to accept the different culture and respect each individual’s culture. People involved in business can learn to judge in a logical way. People involved in business must be flexible and adjust their Business English sentences.
This thesis is related to the high frequency sentences of Business English. It probes into the high frequency sentences in business negotiations, conversations and letters. It summarizes and explores the high frequency sentences of Business English Through the study, we may come to the conclusion that there are four categories of high frequency sentences of Business English. The first category is declarative sentences and imperative sentences. Normally, declarative sentences are used to stress the beginning of a conversation or letter indicating illustrations or decision technically. In most cases, these sentences are dominant for the whole conversation or letter. People involved in business dealings often adopt declarative sentences to express demands. While only in some specific circumstances, people only use interrogative sentences to make statement. And in most cases, exclamatory sentences are not used in Business English. Both of the two kinds of sentences are used to express the opinion of one side and exchange corresponding information with the other side of business dealings. In terms of interrogative sentence, it is always used to raise questions. In business conversation or letter, people use interrogative sentences to put forward questions. At the end of the conversation or letter, interrogative sentences are used to indicate or illustrate things. The second category is passive voice. People involved in business ought to be objective instead of putting individual’s feelings, opinions or emotions into the sentences of Business English. Therefore, for the sake of conducting business activities successfully, being objective is critical. In the conversation or letter, people ought to focus on the things instead of people as well as be in case of making other side feel there is something wrong in their expressions. passive voice sentences can help the writer of the letter criticize the reader of the letter indirectly indicating the respect and consideration to the readers which are significant for the reader or listener of corresponding information. The third category is simple sentence. Simple sentence which is also call independent sentence refers to the sentence containing a subject and a verb expressing the complete thought. Simple sentence is considered as the most common type of sentence. But if we only adopt simple sentences in Business English, the whole conversation or letter would appear to be dull, boring and unprofessional. Therefore, both simple sentences and long,complex sentences are necessary for Business English. The four category is polite formulas. For the sake of expressing corresponding information, there are many stylized polite formulas in Business English from the the long-term practice which can be considered as the significant feature of Business English. These polite formulas in Business English make it be one of a kind comparing with other forms of English.
The present study is by no means comprehensive and perfect.
In the first place, due to the limit of time, it is impossible to conduct the analysis of all factors concerning the issue, hence the effectiveness may be reduced to some degree.
Secondly,objectivity and accuracy of the analysis may be affected by the author’s ideological orientation and limited academic ability.
In the end, the author hopes that this paper will contribute to further research on this subject.
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