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Over the last years tremendous in-roads has been made in terms of communication, and it has been principally to new technology. In terms of new technology, such things as E-mail, that now the majority of people are on, makes it that companies can actually talk to their clients electroni-cally, very quickly and can get response back from them if they need to have budgets signed off or to debate the schedule or a proposal. E-mail delivers to the clients immediate access to any work in progress. They can therefore comment very quickly on changes that need to be made and the company, in turn, can respond back with speed.


E-mails are by far the most common method of written communica-tion. Three different styles are often identified in E-mail writing, although in real life the difference is not so clear. In business communication one can mix styles to some extent, but one should not mix styles at the two extremes. If in doubt, one should follow the style of the other person.


- Formal. This is the style of old-fashioned letter. Ideas are presented politely and carefully, and there is much use of fixed expressions and long words. The language is impersonal. Grammar and punctuation are important. This style is not common in E-mail, but it is used if the sub-ject-matter is serious (for example, complaint).



- Neutral/standard. This is the most common style in professional E-mails. The writer and the reader are both busy, so the language is simple, clear and direct. Sentences are short and there is use of contractions {I've for I have, etc.). The language is more personal. However, the style is not similar to speech – it is too direct.


- Informal. This is the most common style for E-mails between friends. This is the style that is closest to speech, so there are everyday words and conversational expressions. The reader will also be more toler-ant of bad grammar, etc.


Missing out words is common in E-mails. It happens where the peo-ple know each other very well. The meaning is clear from the context so the full grammatical form is not necessary:


- The subject /can be left out, especially with mental verbs like hope, think, believe, etc.: (I) hope you're well.


- In a question, the subject you and the auxiliary can be left out: (Are you) coming on Friday?


- The auxiliaries be, have, will, do, etc can be left out: (Did you) get my last E-mail?


- The words that and it can be left out, often with a form of be as well as the articles the and a: (That's a) good idea. Just read (the) E-mail about relocation.


In some E-mails, much abbreviated forms are used. The writer wants to write very quickly and the meaning is clear from the context. There are three techniques:


1. Using a letter or a numeral to stand for a sound: с = see; b – be; и = you; hv 2 work = have to work


2. Making a short form of a common word: yr = your; pis = please; wkng = working (hours)


3. Writing the first letters of a well-known phrase: asap = as soon as possible; btw = by the way; CU= see you. Consider the following sample E-mail:


Subject: Yr order ref no KD654


In relation to yr order rec'd today, we cannot supply the qty's you need at this moment. Pis confirm asap if a part-delivery wd be accepta-ble, with the rest 2follow L8R. Rgd, Stefan.


In business E-mails, abbreviated forms of Latin phrases are not sel-dom used: i.e. (id est) = I am going to explain what I mean using different words; e.g. (exempli gratia) = I am going to give an example; NB (nota



bene) = I want you to give special attention to this next point; PS (post-script) = I am adding some information at the end that I forgot.


Alongside specific features of E-mail communication there is a cer-tain set of key phrases common to all commercial writing. The choice of the key phrases is determined by the purpose of communication. The openings and closings are very much the same and demonstrate friendly relations between the partners (Thank you for your E-mail of 5 August inquiring about...; Thank you for taking the time on the phone this morn-ing to explain...; Thank you for brining this matter to my attention. I very much hope you will continue to use our services in the future...; We look forward to hearing from you.), but the body of the message differs widelyover the situation. Each extra-linguistic situation requires its appropriate wording:


- Request for information (customer): Please, send full details of your prices, discounts, terms of payment and delivery time; Could you say whether there is any minimum order.


- Giving information (supplier): The goods will be shipped 3 days from receipt of a firm order; We require payment by bank transfer/letter of credit.


- Following up a call (supplier): I understand that you are looking for... and I am confident that we can find a good solution for your needs; As agreed, I'll give you a call during the last week of March.

- Asking for better terms (customer): Would you be prepared to let us have the goods on credit? If we reach an agreement on these matters we are sure that we can do more business with you in the future.

- Replying and agreeing terms (supplier): In relation to..., we would be happy to let you have...; Please return the attached form asap so that your order can be processed without any delay; Please note that we have recently improved the functionality of our website, and it is now possible to place an order on-line.

и Making an order (customer): Thank you for your recent E-mail, and we accept your quotation. Our completed order form is attached, and we give full bank details below.

- Confirming an order (supplier): We are confident that the goods will meet your expectations. Should there be any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me, either by E-mail or phone.


- Asking for payment (supplier). First reminder-action: Please send a bank transfer to settle the account, or an explanation of why the balance is still outstanding. If you have already dealt with this matter, please dis-


regard this E-mail. Second/third reminder-action: Clearly, this situation cannot be allowed to continue, and we ask you to take immediate action to settle your account. Final demand-action: Unless we receive payment within seven days, we shall have no alternative but to take legal action to recover the money.


- Complaining (customer): The equipment I ordered has still not been delivered, despite my phone call to you last week to say that it is needed urgently; We must insist on an immediate replacement/full refund.

- Apologizing (supplier): / was very concerned to learn about...; I can assure you that this will not happen again. To compensate for the incon-venience, we should like to offer you...



Telecopies (Facsimiles)


While E-mails are used to pass information about orders, time of de-livery and other matters during negotiations or the performance of the contract, important printed materials (signed documents, contracts of sale, charter parties, drawings, or diagrams), which the parties have to study, may, if the matter is urgent, be transmitted from one place to another by telecopiers, often called telefaxes. The telecopier is a coping machine that is connected to another similar copier through the telephone network.


Faxes may contain the following headings: To/From/Fax numbers/ Date/Number of pages/Subject. The style of the fax can be formal, as in a business letter, or more informal depending on the subject and recipient.


Points can be numbered for clarity:  
J.D. Kings land Ltd    
Fax Transmission    
To Sue Blakemore  
From Jenny Duncan  
Date 9 May  
Number of pages (including this) 1
Subject Various  


Further to my message on your answering machine, I thought it might be helpful if I faxed you the points we need you to clarify on Monday:

1. Contacts inside Sataier-Bucht AG


We need to know what exactly we can say about your proposal to our contact inside the company. We have to ensure we do not breach any con-fidentiality agreements.


2. Technical documentation


Can you inform us about the technical documentation needed for the new equipment? Should it be in German as well as English?


3. Translator


Christine needs to give us more information about the technical writ-er required (French to English). The agency wants an exact job descrip-tion.


Regards Jenny Duncan

Office Manager


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