Research article
Issue: № 3 (7), 2016


The article discusses official or business correspondence which unlike a number of other subsystems of the official style represents the actual material for a special research in the aspect of direct and indirect speech acts. The article is motivated by two interconnected empirical and theoretical conditions. The noted gnoseological circumstance forms the basis for a problem definition that implies characterization of representation of the indirect character of speech acts in the business correspondence. The basic empirical material comprises the business document flow of higher education institutions of the South of Russia connected with the coordination of several international scientific and educational projects in 2009-2015.

Two interconnected conditions (empirical and theoretical) induce to research the official / business correspondence in the aspect of direct and indirect speech acts (DSA / ISA), as (1) here even the primary supervision points out the speech-act specifics, and (2) it is the premise for categorical verification. The last supports the requirement of informative alignment, which allows correlating this correspondence to other subsystems and substyles of the official style.

Those means which initially express the emotional attitude are rather indicative in the official material, for example, such expression of politeness as: “Yours faithfully”, used in combination with such addresses as “Dear Sir / Sirs / Sir” or “Madam” and “Yours sincerely” in combination with some personal addresses. The representation of sincerity and geniality (“faithfully”, “sincerely”) is characterized in a complex: (1) it is a part of a standard formula whose meaning is far from the sphere of warm passions; (2) the reference value is not devastated completely as it has “a trace of the relation to business” [5, 77] from the sender as a person. So, some indirect signs of the expressive are defined in the SA of the direct behabitive (an etiquette formula).

It is possible to explain the system of such facts by the correlation of SA and the intentions corresponding to them. First of all, phatic, informational and imperative intentions are realized in texts of business correspondence, referring to the known global purposes of communication of reporting and getting information as well as reaching the perlocutionary effect [1, 62]. For example: «<…> Dear James <…> I have pleasure in inviting you to attend our special conference <…> Yours sincerely <…>» – here we can observe the unity of ways of indirect representation of the expressive. The strengthened determination and expanded addressing are obvious: by calling the addressee, the author suggests to reach other ones who will be potentially interested in the offered educational and business services. Thus, the leading speech-act sign comprises the specific business intention and its lingvopragmatic standard, whose necessary “pragmatic partner” is a unit, which initially expresses emotions. The essence and effect of such communication can be lost without it. Moreover, its absence leads to the excessive formalization which literally pushes away business partners from their communication, generating a dangerous process of impersonalization. The blurring of the emotional sense in the unit and its initial existence act as means which are in the relations of mutual balance. The three allocated units belong to one semantic sphere, but their unity is deprived of repetition and tautologies. The linear expansion of the discourse is characterized by two linearly strong positions – initial and final; such frame strengthens the indirect expression. In general, ISA is provided in three main ways: through (1) the basis on the system semantic relations, (2) expanded addressing and (3) strengthened determination.

We believe that three characteristics of the similar material deserve special attention in the categorical aspect. First, it is necessary to explain the demand in the rational sphere of means of emotional expression. Secondly, the correlation of this phenomenon to the essence of ISA turns out to be significant. Thirdly, this phenomenon seems actual for the official business speech, too.

The first characteristic is actually explanatory. We think it is possible to explain the revealed feature on the basis of generality of the emotional plan which has recently been comprehended in the linguistic aspect [3]; [9]. This generality is supplemented by the deep interrelation between emotions and other moral, national and cultural aspects. To a certain extent, they are subjects to the linguistic categorization in linguistic ethics[7] and linguistic national culturology which strengthen the systemic demand of the emotional plan. 

The modern, insufficiently studied interaction of linguistic cultures directly corresponds to the studied subsystem, for example, the development of the genre of congratulatory letter in Russian business communication due to the borrowing of the tradition of European and American business communications.

The second characteristic concerns the correlation between the essence of ISA and the demand of the emotional plan. Such correlation is based on the growing specification of indirect ways of representation of communicative and pragmatic signs [6], [8], [4], [10, 499].

The third characteristic is the expanded importance of the emotional plan. It is relevant for the official business speech as a dynamic system and even for the emphasis of the rational basis in the language on the whole [11]. Such approach is categorically interfaced to the metodologization at which the official is defined as "the formalization of national life" [2, 183], [12].

So, in our opinion, the mentioned above specified characteristics can find their fixing in concrete ways of realization of the linguistic systemacity.

In our opinion, it is necessary to specify what material needs to be referred to business communication. As a rule, the following three types of letters usually correspond to it: "Taking into account the communicative status or category of addressing business letters … can be divided into official, unofficial and business letters of informal nature" [1, 41]. Here it is necessary to emphasize that the distinction between unofficiality and informality is planned only in the most general view, and therefore can become debatable.

Such classification is specified by some linguists as follows: "It is offered to carry those letters where the management of higher education institution (the rector, the vice rector) acts as the sender and/or the addressee of official letters. This group of letters put into practice the main macrointentions stated above at the level of top management, i.e. at the level of adoption of macrodecisions where leaders are as practice of our research shows, phatic and regulatory macrointentions" [1, 43]. Further, the bases of classification are complex: "The group of unofficial letters is constituted by letters of working nature at the level of deans, the faculty. To such correspondence with foreign citizens belongs too, as potential users of scientific and educational services".

So, they consider such letters in which the operational working questions or questions relating to prospects of interaction in various directions are raised. The group of letters between the coordinators of cooperation having the identical social status is referred to business letters of informal nature. There, purposes and tasks of business discourse are implemented both by taking into account institutional characteristics of communication and interpersonal nature of the relations. "In the letters of the third category, the interpersonal nature of the relations shows the specifics at the level of the choice of subjects of communication and language options of the speech use" [1].

However it is still unclear, why correspondence between coordinators belongs to one group, and between deans – to another (respectively to informal and to unofficial ones).

In our opinion, refining is possible only by taking into account ISA. The differentiation of the allocated types of the business letter really can rely on one leading sign, and not just on a combination. This sign implies the usage of indirect nature of SA. In official letters, the indirect nature is provided minimum. On other "pole" of this classification, signs of ISA can dominate and vary in informal letters. In the unofficial letters, which are intermediate in classification, the indirect nature of SA is usually provided, but similarly and in balance with signs of DSA. When we take into account the sign revealed by us, another aspect of classification – structural – becomes stronger. Signs of the letters analyzed in a business discourse allow speaking about two main structural types: these are the regulated (standard) and non-regulated letters.

In the analyzed material, the representation of the indirect character of SA is connected with the interaction between the appositional types of acts: on the one hand, the expressive, and, on the other, the comissive, directive or behabitive. The expressive is presented indirectly by those properties which are compatible to the directly expressed signs of other speech-act forms and types. Such combination of the indirect and direct characters of SA optimizes the business communication.

We also should mention the unity of contrast pragmatic characteristics, i.e. the rational affirmation for the standard success and emotional colouring. The system nature of the connection between the remote signs closely fastens such indirect speech-act integration. And, therefore, the official correspondence’s steady elements are corresponding units and complexes which differ in some special pragmatic efficiency.


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