The Style of Official Documents. Its Criteria and Linguistic Peculiarities. 

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The Style of Official Documents. Its Criteria and Linguistic Peculiarities.

There is one more style of language within the field of standard literary English. FS is not homogeneous and is represented by the following substyles or variants:

1) The language of business documents,

2) The language of legal documents,

3) That of diplomacy,

4) That of military documents.

This style has a definite communicative aim and, accordingly, has its own system of interrelated language and stylistic means. The main aim of this type of communication is to state the conditions binding two parties in an undertaking. These parties may be: the state and the citizen, or citizen and citizen; a society and its members (statute or ordinance); two or more enterprises or bodies (business correspondence or contracts); two or more governments (pacts, treaties); a person in authority and a subordinate (orders, regulations, instructions, authoritative directives); a board or presidium and an assembly or general meeting (procedures acts, minutes), etc. The aim of communication in this style of language is to reach agreement between two contracting parties. This most general function of the style of official documents predetermines the peculiarities of the style.

The most striking, though not the most essential feature, is a special system of clichés, terms and set expressions by which each substyle can easily be recognized, for example: beg to inform you, I beg to move, I second the motion, provisional agenda, the above-mentioned, hereinafter named, on behalf of, private advisory, Dear Sir, We remain, your obedient servants. In fact, each of the subdivisions of this style has its own peculiar terms, phrases and expressions which differ from the corresponding terms, phrases and expressions of other variants of this style. Thus in finance we find terms like extra revenue, taxable capacities, liability to profit tax. Terms and phrases like “high contracting parties, to ratify an agreement, memorandum, pact, Charge d'affaires, protectorate, extra-territorial status, plenipotentiary” will immediately brand the utterance as diplomatic. In legal language, examples are: to deal with a case; summary procedure; a body of judges; as laid down in.

Likewise, other varieties of official language have their special nomenclature, which is conspicuous in the text and therefore easily discernible as belonging to the official language style.

Besides the special nomenclature characteristic of each, variety of the style, there is a feature common to all these varietiesthe use of abbreviations, conventional symbols and contractions, for example: M. P. (Member of Parliament), Gvt (government), H.M.S. (His Majesty's Steamship), $ (dollar), Ј (pound), Ltd (Limited).

Another feature of the style is the use of words in their logical dictionary meaning. Just as in the other matter-of-fact styles, and in contrast intrinsically to the belles-lettres style, there is no room for contextual meanings or for any kind of simultaneous realization of two meanings. In military documents sometimes metaphorical names are given to mountains, rivers, hills or villages, but these metaphors are perceived as code signs and have no aesthetic value.

Words with emotive meaning are not to be found in the style of official documents either. Even in the style of scientific prose some words may be found which reveal the attitude of the writer, his individual evaluation of the facts and events of the issue. But no such words are to be found in official style, except those which are used in business letters as conventional phrases of greeting or close, as Dear Sir, yours faithfully.

As in all other functional styles, the distinctive properties appear as a system. We cannot single out a style by its vocabulary only, recognizable though it always is. The syntactical pattern of the style is as significant as the vocabulary, though not perhaps so immediately apparent.

Perhaps the most noticeable of all syntactical features are the compositional patterns of the variants of this style. Thus, business letters have a definite compositional pattern, namely, the heading giving the address of the writer, the date, the name of the addressee and his address. Almost every official document has its own compositional design. Pacts and statutes, orders and minutes, notes and memoranda—all have more or less definite forms, and it will not be an exaggeration to state that the form of the document is itself informative, inasmuch as it tells something about the matter dealt with (a letter, an agreement, an order, etc). In no other style of language will such an arrangement of utterance be found. In fact, the whole document is one sentence from the point of view of its formal syntactical structure. The subject of the sentence 'The Technical Assistance Committee7 is followed by a number of participial constructions— 'Recalling'—, 'Considering'—, 'Considering—, is cut off by a comma from them and from the homogeneous predicates—• 'Asks', 'Decides', 'Requests'. Every predicate structure is numbered and begins with a capital letter just as the participial constructions. This structurally illogical way of combining different ideas has its sense. the reason for such a structural pattern probably lies in the intention to show the equality of the items and similar dependence of the participial constructions on the predicate constructions. "In legal English," writes H. Whitehall, "...a significant judgment may depend on the exact relations between words....The language of the law is written not so much to be understood as not to be misunderstood.».

The overall code of the official style falls into a system of subcodes, each characterized by its own terminological nomenclature, its own compositional form, its own variety of syntactical arrangements.

But the integrating features of all these subcodes, emanating from the general aim of agreement between- parties, remain the following:

1) Conventionality of expression;

2) Absence of any emotiveness;

3) The encoded character of language symbols (including abbreviations) and

4) A general syntactical mode of combining several pronouncements into one sentence.



Newspaper Style. Its Criteria and Linguistic Peculiarities.

(Arnold) Scientists have different approaches to the newspaper style. Some of them consider the language of the newspapers as a separate FS, others – refer it to the publicistic FS. Arnold states that newspaper style has the right to exist as a separate FS, because the system of extralinguistic style-creating elements (which the choice of the linguistic units depend on) is common for many newspapers, what gives us the right to speak about separate newspaper style. Thus FS bears all the l-ge functions. Esthetic and phatic functions are expressed with the help of graphical means: headlines, print, which must attract attention, division of the text, etc.

A newspaper is a source of information, a means of influencing public opinion. It is created for masses of different people. A newspaper tends to present the information in a brief way, presenting only the main ideas, so that even if the person hasn’t read the article up to the end he could understand the main issue and get certain impression. The information presented in the newspapers mustn’t demand some preparatory knowledge from the reader. Dependence on the context must be minimal. Themes may be absolutely different, they only must be actual, acute.


1) Proper names: toponyms, antroponyms, names of organizations, etc.

2) Many numerals. Dates. Many words belonging to the Lexical – grammatical field of plurality, quantity.

3) Etymology. On the one hand - tendency to innovations, on the other – clichés.

4) Denotation. Hugh percent of abstract words, although the information is concrete.

5) Connotation. Abundant use of expressive, evaluative words, high-flown words; high-flown archaic military words for emotional recruitment of the readers.

Headline. Gives the most general orientation about what an article is about. It Sub – headline extends the information, it is also graphically emphasized.

1) Omission of finite verbs, auxiliary verbs.

2) Has predicative character.

3) Use of the p]Present Simple instead of the other tense forms.

4) Use of nominal groups and constructions with left or right attributes. Right attribute is usually expressed with the help of prepositions (preposition “of” is not used).

5) Tendency to the omission of the articles.

6) The finite form of the verb “to be” is usually omissed. So when it appears it is regarded as an emphatic stylistic device.

7) Abbreviations.

8) Words with rich connotation.

9) Epithets.

10) Rhymes. Rhythm.

11) Pun.

12) Evaluation.

13) Attitude to the described facts.

14) Homonyms.

15) Satire.

16) Mystery. It is written in such a form, that it becomes clear only after reading the article.

17) Long attributive chains. It is written in such a form, that it becomes clear only after reading the article.


1) Cut, not word-for-word quoting without inverted commas with the journalist’s comments in commas. – Free direct speech.

2) Quotations in inverted commas with the journalist’s comments and evaluation.


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