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BUSINESSLETTERWRITING:DRAFTINGANDREVISING Week6

LEARNINGOBJECTIVES:

Tolearnaboutcoherenceasanimportantelementinthedraftingprocess
Tolearnabouttoneandstylethroughspecificlanguageuses
Toappreciatetheroleoftone,cultureandpersuasionindraftingbusinessletters
Tobefamiliarwiththegeneralframeworkofquestionsforrevisingletters

Indraftingyourletter,therearethreeimportantthingsthatyouneedtoconsider.Theseare:

o Becoherent
o Useappropriatelanguage(3Cs)
o Establishgoodreaderwriterrelationship(4Ps)

C
OHERENCE

Theearliersetofnotesshouldhavegivenyouaclearideaoftheroleoforganizationin
businessletterwriting.Specifically,theearliernotesshouldhaveprovidedyouwithan
overviewofthemanypossiblewaysoforganizingyourbusinessletteraccordingtotheneedsof
yourtargetreaders.

However,whileyounowmayhaveaclearideaofhowtodeliveryourmainmessageinan
organizedway,thedraftingstagestillrequiresyoutoworkonyourorganizationinmore
specificways.Thatis,youmustnowuselanguagestrategicallytoputyourideastogetherin
ordertoachieveacoherentletter.

Inotherwords,howyouwanttoorganizethecontentofyourlettermustbesurfacedexplicitly
throughyouruseoflanguage.

Uselinkingwords

Linkingwordsshowtheconnectionbetweenwhathasbeensaidandwhatcomesnext.Thishelps
thereadertounderstandamessagemoreeasilybecausetheyactassignpoststothereader,
allowinghertopredictwhatiscoming.Theyhelpavoidabruptnessandallowthewritingtoflow
moresmoothly.

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Linkingwordsmaybeused:

Linkingwordsmaybeused:

withinasentence Managersweregenerallyreluctanttoemployparttimestaff;
however,thiswasnotalwaysthecase.
Notehowhoweverhelpstomaketheabovesentencecoherentbylinkingthe
twopartstogetherinacontrastrelation.

withinaparagraph Thecompanyhasnotmadeacentofprofitoverthelasttwelve
months.Wearenolongerattractinginvestorslikeweusedto.
Thereisevidenceofgrowingabsenteeismamongbothofficestaff
andworkers.Therefore,theBoardofDirectorsfeelsthatcertain
drasticmeasureshavetobetaken.
Notehowtherefore signpostsaconclusiontotheparagraph,helpingitto
coheretogetherasasingleunit.

betweentwoparagraphs VideoSing,Ltdrecognizesyourcontributionstothesuccessofthe
globalpremierofA1GXVideosinSingapore.Sucheffortscannot
gounrewarded.

Inthisconnection,wewouldliketoinviteyoutoourTestimonial
Dinner2010inhonourofourmostvaluableemployeeslikeyouto
beheldonFriday,24September2010,at8oclockinevening.
ThevenuewillbeattheGrandBallroomofEpicVenusHotelon
OrchardLink.
NotehowInthisconnectionlinksthesecondparagraphtothefirstparagraph,
byconnectingthetwoinakindofcauseeffectorwhatthen?relationship.

Pronounsmayalsobeusedtoconnectideassmoothlysincetheyrefertowordspreviously
mentioned.Forexample,insteadof:

Belowisalistofretailoutlets.Theretailoutletsaredividedintothreetypes....

itisbettertosay:

Belowisalistofretailoutlets.Theyaredividedintothreetypes.

However,careshouldbetakentoensurethatanypronounsusedshouldnotbeambiguous.For
example:

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OurbankispleasedtoannounceanewpartnershipwiththeDevelopmentBankofBoracay
foraregionalinitiativetocombatclimatechange.Itsmaininspirationis...(Itsisambiguous
here.Doesitrefertothebank,thenewpartnershiportheregionalinitiative?)

Useparallelstructure

Inbusinessletterwriting,weoftenneedtomakelistsofitems(e.g.,instructions,conditions,setsof
advantagesordisadvantages,recommendations).Theseitemsappearmorecoherenttothereader
iftheyareexpressedinsimilargrammaticalpatterns,i.e.,inparallelstructure.

Lookatthefollowingexample:

Model201Ahasthefollowingadvantages Model201Ahasthefollowingadvantages
overModel301A: overModel301A:

a) Smallandrelativelyportable a) Smallandrelativelyportable
b) Simplicity b) Simple
c) Ruggedness c) Rugged
d) Norequirementsforhighlytrained d) Easyandcheaptooperate(combiningd
operators ande)
e) Economyofoperation

Notehowtheadvantageslistedontheleft are notin Intheimprovedversionontheright,theconstructionhas


parallelstructure.Differentgrammaticalstructures changedsothattheadvantagesareinparallelform(all
abstractnouns,nounphrases,adjectivesareused, adjectives),makingtheinformationmorecoherentand
makingitdifficultforthereadertoprocessthe accessible.
information.

Givetherightamountofemphasis

Therightamountofemphasisorfocusimprovesthecoherenceofthemessageandmakesiteasier
tounderstand.Businesswritersusefourmajorwaystoemphasiseimportantideas:

o usingshortsentences

Shortsentencescarrymoreemphasisthanlongerones,whichtendtodeemphasisecontents.
Forexample:


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Asamplelongsentencewhichdeemphasizes Asampleshortsentencewhichemphasizes
content content

Atthispointitcannotbeemphasisedstrongly Maintainingahighworkrateiscrucial.
enoughthatahighandconsistentworkrate
maintainedbyeachandeverymemberofthe
workforceiscrucialfortheeconomic
wellbeingofthecompany.

o subordinatinglessimportantideas

Incomplexsentences,theideaexpressedintheindependentormainclauseisnaturally
emphasized,whilethatinthedependentclause(s)isnaturallydeemphasised.
Therefore,primaryinformationshouldbeplacedintheindependentclause,andsecondary
informationinthedependentclause.

SentenceA SentenceB
Jeantookajobininsurance,althoughshe Althoughshetookajobininsurance,Jean
reallypreferredajobinaccounting. reallypreferredajobinaccounting.

InSentenceA,theemphasisisonJeanstakingajobin InSentenceB,theindependentclauseisJeanreally
insurance;theindependentclauseisJeantookajobin preferredajobinaccounting;thesentence
insurance. constructionhasbeenswitchedaroundtoemphasize
herpreferenceforajobinaccounting.

o numberingandtabulatingideas

Thisiscommonlyusedinbusinesswritingtocreateemphasis.Forexample:

Theproblemshavebeennarrowedintothreecategories:

(1)absenteeism
(2)lateness
(3)alcoholism

Here,thethreecategoriesarevisuallyclearandeasilyenumerated.

o usingboldtype,italics,underlining,andheadingsandsubheadings

TheseareALLthingswedophysicallytoemphasizethewrittenorprintedword.

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Maintainunityinsentencesandparagraphs

Forsentences,unitymeansthateverythinginasentenceshouldformonecompletethoughtor
idea.

Donotputunrelatedideasinasentence:

MrChenisoursalesmanager,andhehasadegreeinlaw.

Bettertoputunrelatedideasinseparatesentence:

MrChenisoursalesmanager.Hehasalawdegree.

Orsubordinateoneideatotheother:

MrChen,oursalesmanager,hasalawdegree.

Forparagraphs,unitymeansthateverysentenceinaparagraphshouldcentrearoundonetopic
orcentralidea.Theexamplebelowshowsaparagraphwhichdoesnothaveunity.Byshiftingto
personalqualities,thethirdsentenceviolatesparagraphunity.Omittingthissentencewould
correcttheerror.

AttheUniversity,Istudiedallthebasicaccountingsubjectsaswellas
specialisedcoursesinoperationsresearch,banking,andinformationsystems.I
alsotookmodulesinthebehaviouralareas,withemphasisonhuman
relations.Realizingthevalueofhumanrelationsinbusiness,Iwasactivein
extracurricularactivities,suchastheMarketingClub,theCulturalActivities
andCommunityServiceClub,andtheToastmastersClub.Iselectedmyelective
courseworktoroundoutmygeneralbusinesseducation.Amongmyelectives
weremodulesininvestments,businesscommunications,andcultureand
society.Alookatmyresumewillshowyoutheadditionalmoduleswhich
roundoutmyuniversityeducation.

S
TYLEANDTONE

Toachieveappropriatetoneinyourbusinessletter,youmuststyleyourwriting.

Styleandtonearetwosidesofthesamecoin.Styleismadeupofthewordsandsentences
thatawriterchoosesinordertoproduceadesiredresponseinthereaders.Tonereferstothe
unwrittenorunspokenmessagethatcomesacrossinyourcommunications.Itissometimes
referredtoasthemessagebetweenthelineswhich,ofcourse,dependsonyourwordchoice
andyourexpressionofideas.
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SENTENCES STYLE(expressedmessage) TONE(hiddenmessage)

Isold25piecesofthe BeginswithpersonalpronounI Informal,personal


product. Iistheactor(ordoer)inthesentence

Activeconstructionisused

25piecesoftheproduct NoI;nodoeroftheaction Formal,impersonal


havebeensold. Passiveconstructionisused

Pleasebeinformedthat BeginswithPlease Polite,potentiallyformal

Usesthepassiveformbeinformed

Iwouldliketoinformyou BeginswiththeIpronoun Polite,personal

that UsestheactiveformIinformyou

Youshouldknowthat BeginswiththeYoupronounandcontinues Informal,demanding,angry


withanimperativeshould

Styleandtonehaveaprofoundinfluenceontheeffectthemessagewillhaveonyourreader.
However,whileyoucanindeedstyleyoursentencesinawaythatachievesaparticulartone,be
mindfulofthefactthatitisthecombinedstylingofstructure,sentencesandwordsinyour
letter(bearinginmindtoothatroleofreaderinyourdecisiononhowtowritetheletter)that
determinesthegeneraltoneoftheletter.OnephraseabovePleasebeinformedthatmay
beastylethatcanachieveapoliteandformaltone,butitisstillnotaguaranteethat
everythingelseintheletterisalsopoliteandformal.Consistencyisveryimportantinthis
regard.Infact,assoonasyoucompletethephrase,yourtonemayhavechangedcompletely,
asin:

Pleasebeinformedthatyouwillnotberefundedfortheexorbitantexpenses
incurredduringthestaffretreat.

Inbusinessletterwriting,thus,apartfromchoosingtheappropriatecontentandadoptinga
suitableorganizationalframework,itisalsoimportanttopayattentiontohowyouexpress
yourideasinwriting.Inthefollowingsections,youwillbeintroducedfurthertomorespecific
elementsofstyleandtoneinbusinessletterwriting.Thesearethe3Csoflanguageandthe
4Psofapositivereaderwriterrelationship.

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T
HE3Cs

Threewordsbestsumupwhatgoodbusinesslanguageshouldbe:Clear,ConciseandCorrect.
Yourwriting,inotherwords,mustbesimpleandunderstandable.Essentially,thelanguageof
businesstobedescribedbelowisimportantinallformsofbusinesscommunication.

CLEAR

Prefershort,simplewords

Short,familiarwordscommunicatemoreclearlythanlonger,lessusedwords.Longwordsmay
lookimpressive,buttheymaynotbeunderstoodandtheymaydistractthereaderfromthe
message.

Insteadof: Useorwrite:
terminate end
remunerate pay
endeavour try
cogitate think
procure buy
scrutinize,probe study,inspect
stipulate specify
necessitate require
Thismachinehasatendencytodevelop Thismachinetendstogetnoisywhenitruns
excessiveandunpleasantaudialsymptoms hot.
whenoperatingatelevatedtemperatures

However,theaboveexamples,andallotherpossibleexamples,mustbeusedwithcaution.
Whiletheobjectiveistousesimpleandshorterwords,youdonotdosoattheexpenseof
otherconsiderations,suchastheuseofconcreteandspecificwords.

Forexample,thewordaskmaybeshorterthanenquireordemand,buttheselasttwo
wordshaveshadesofmeaningwhichareconcreteandspecific.Toaskforanexplanationis
differentfromtodemandanexplanation.Thekeypointtomakebasicallyisthatifyour
meaningcanbeexpressedmoreclearlybyashorterormoresimpleword,thenusethisword.
Donotuselongerwordsjustbecauseyouwanttoimpressyourreader.




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Useconcrete,specificwords

Ifpossible,useconcretewordsbecausetheystandforspecificthingsthatpeoplecansee,feel,
taste,hearorsmell.Abstractwordsshouldbeavoidedasmuchaspossiblebecausetheytend
tohavebroad,generalmeanings.Thus,presentspecificfacts,details,andexamples.

Abstract Concrete

Asignificantloss A53percentloss
Goodattendancerecord 95percentattendancerecord
Themajority 65%
Atthesoonestpossibletime By5p.m.,Friday
Substantialamount $2.7million
Arelativelynewproduct Anewproductintroducedin2008

Keepsentencesshort

Shortersentencesandparagraphsareeasiertounderstandandlikelytocontainfewererrors.
Unnecessarywordsthataddnothingtothemeaningandtheimpactofthesentenceor
paragraphshouldbeomitted.Mostbusinesscommunicationexpertsrecommendwritingwithan
averagesentencelengthofbetween20and25words.Sentencesover40to50wordslongshould
bereconsideredtodecidewhethertheyshouldberewritten.

Ofcourse,sometimeslongersentencescan,andshould,bewritten.Thisisnecessaryinorderto
completeathoughtoridea,toprovidevarietyinsentencelength,andtosubordinateless
importantinformation.Butinwritinglongsentences,careshouldbetakentoensurethatthey
areclearandtheimportantpointisnotlost.


CONCISE

Beingconcisemeansusingthefewestpossiblewordstogetamessageacrosstothereader.
Longwindedwritingcanbeannoyingbecauseunnecessarywords,irrelevantdetailsandmuddled
expressionswastethereaderstime.However,concisewritingdoesnotmeansacrificingclarityor
essentialinformation.Concisenessisstillaboutusingthefewestpossiblewordstogetthesame
messageacrossintheclearestpossibleway.

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Avoidredundancy

Donotusetwowordswiththesamemeaninginthesamesentence.Inthefollowingexamples,the
wordinitalicsisredundantandshouldbeleftout:

mypersonalopinion promptandspeedy
afterthreehourslater attachedhereto

Avoidwordyexpressions

Notehowtheexpressionsbelowcanbeshortenedwithoutlosinganymeaning:

From To
atthepresenttime now
inthenearfuture soon
inveryfewcases seldom
Iamoftheopinionthat Ithink


Preferstrongverbsandtheactivevoice

Strongverbsarethosewhichdescribeactionsdirectly.Bycontrast,weakverbformsarethosewhich
haveactionwordsaswellasnouns.Hence,weakverbformsusemorewordstodescribethesame
actionasitsequivalentstrongverb.Weakverbformsshouldbeavoidedalsobecausetheytendtobe
abstractandusuallyrequirethepassivevoice.

Weakverb Strongverb
makeanacquisition acquire
giveassistanceto assist
haveadiscussion discuss
conductaninvestigation investigate
Wemustaimforareconciliationofour Wemustreconcileourdifferences.
differences
Theestablishmentofarehabilitationcentre Thecompanyhasestablishedarehabilitation
hasbeenaccomplished. center.

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CORRECT

Grammaticalcorrectnessisvitalinbusinesswriting.Aletterorreportgoingoutsidethecompany
andbearingthecompany'sletterheadgivesapoorimpressionofthecompanyifitcontainsobvious
errors.

Usecorrecttenses

Note,forexample,theshiftfrompasttensetopresenttenseinthesentencebelow:

ManyofourcustomersthoughtthatUltraCabisthemostreliabletaxicompany.However,
theyalsobelievethattaxishavebecomeaveryexpensivemodeoftransportation.(Thereis
noclearreasonwhythetensesaredifferentfortheunderlinedwords)

Makesurethereissubjectverbagreement

Makesurethatthesubjectandtheverbinsentencesareinagreement.Singularverbsshouldbe
usedwhenthesubjectisinthesingular.Notehowthisisnotthecasewiththefollowing:

Feedbackarereviewedandactedon...,

TheSingaporeworker,partlythroughlegislationandpartlythroughhisownattitude,havelost
progressivelyfewerworkingdays.

Usearticlescorrectly(i.e.,"a"and"the")

Theusageofarticlesposesparticularproblemstomanypeople.Takenoteofthefollowing
guidelines.

o Generalreference

Whensomethingisreferredtoasawholeclassofthingsorinageneralsense(general
reference),apluralnounandnoarticleisused.

Jobinterviewsarenervewrackingoccasions.

Itisalsopossibletouse"the"withasingularcountablenountomakeageneralreference

Thejobinterviewisanervewrackingoccasion.


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o Specificreference

Thearticle"a"or"an"isusedwhenreferringtosomethingthathasnotbeenmentionedbefore
orthatthereaderdoesnotknowabout.

Ihadaninterviewforajobwithaninsurancecompanyyesterday.

Thedefinitearticle"the"isusedwhenreferringtosomethingthathasbecomeoldinformation
orknowntothereader:

Ihadaninterviewforajobwithaninsurancecompanyyesterday.Theinterview
wentwellandIlikedthecompany,butIdon'tthinkI'llgetthejob!

T HE4Ps

Toestablishapositivereaderwriterrelationship,youmustdothe4Ps:

BePoliteBePositiveBePersonalBeProfessional

Bepolite

Nomatterhowaggravatingthecircumstances,alwayswritecourteouslyasthisstyleofwriting
fostersapositiverelationshipwithyourreaderandismorelikelytobringaboutafavorable
response.Tocomeacrossaspoliteinyourwriting,youneedtowriteinastylethat:

reflectsanappropriatereaderwriterrelationship,
doesnotconveyasenseofsuperiority/anger/condescension,or
doesnotembarrassthereader.

Thetablebelowgivessomeexamples.

Writingthat Examples Tone


Reflectsan (a)Witheffectfrom14July,yourgoodsmustbedelivered Notpolite
appropriate at7.00amsharp.Iseekyourcooperationinthisrespect.
readerwriter
(b)Mysuggestionisthatwedeliveryourgoodspromptlyat
relationship
7.00aminsteadoftheusual6.30am.Ihopethis Polite
arrangementisconvenientforyou.
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Doesnot (a)IfyouhadreadSectionIVofyourpolicy,youwouldknow Angry
conveya thatyouarenotcoveredforaccidentswhichhappenon
senseof water.
superiority,
(b)AsareviewofSectionIVofyourpolicyindicates,youare Composed
angeror coveredforaccidentswhichhappenonthegroundsofyour
condescension homeonly.

Doesnot (a)Asyoudidnotrespondwithin10days,itshouldbeclear Accusative
embarrassthe toyouthatyoudidnotqualifyforthefreegift. Rude
reader
(b)Youprobablydidnotnoticethatyourorderwasmailed Polite,
afterourspecialgiftofferhadexpired. Conciliatory


Avoids (a)Wedeeplyunderstandyoursituationandwewilldoour Preachy
preaching besttohelpyoupayyourremainingdues.Wedobelieve
thoughthatafinancialadvisercanhelpyouavoidsimilar
problemsinthefuture.

(b)Wedeeplyunderstandyoursituationandwewilldoour
besttohelpyoupayyourremainingdues. Genuine

Bepositive

Beingpositiveinyourwritingalsohelpstogenerateamorefavorableresponsetoyour
message,so:

o usepositivewordsandphrases,and
o stresswhatcanbedone.

Thetablebelowgivessomeexamples.

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Writingthat: Examples Style/Tone


Usespositive (a)TherearenomoreplacesfortheMay15seminarand Negative
words/phrases therewillbenosimilarseminarorganizeduntilOctober.

(b)Duetoitspopularity,allplacesfortheMay15seminar Positive
havebeenfilled.Asimilarseminarwillbeorganizedin
Octoberandwewillbehappytoreserveaplaceforyou,if
youlike.

Stresseswhat (a)Theproblemwillberesolvedifyouconnectthewires
canbedone accordingtotheinstructionsgiven.

(b)Theproblemwouldnothavehappenedifyouhad
connectedthewiresproperly.

Bepersonal

Thestyleandtoneofyourletterwillalsobeimprovedifyoucouldbemorepersonalinyour
writing.Thewaystoachievethisinclude:

adoptingayouattitude,
usingpersonalpronouns,and
avoidingpompouswords/phrases.

Theyouattitudeinbusinessletterwritingisastyleofwritingthatlooksatthingsfromthe
readersperspectiveandexpressesgenuineconsiderationforthereader.Toprojectthis
attitudeinyourwriting,youneedtorecognizeandunderstandthereaderssituationandyou
shouldbeinterestedinhelpinginasincereandcourteousway.Whenwritingwiththeyou
attitude,youneedtoemphasizewhatthereaderwantstoknow,respectthereaders
intelligenceandprotectthereadersego.

Thetablebelowgivessomeexamplesthatdemonstratewaysinmakingyourwritingmore
personal.

Writingthat: Examples Style/Tone


Adoptsa 1(a)Wearehappytoannouncethatwehaveincreased Straightforward,
youattitude thesizeofourstorebuilding. Informative

(b)Nowyouwillfindawiderchoiceofmerchandisein Personal,
thegreatlyenlargedbuilding. Engaging

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Usespersonal (a)Ifthereshouldbeanyquestionsconcerningthis Formal
pronouns matter,pleasecallthenumberlistedontheletterhead Detached
above.

(b)Welookforwardtoworkingwithyou.Meantime,if Personal
thereisanythingfurtherthatwecandoforyou,please Friendly
letusknow.

Avoids (a)Iwanttocogitatefurtheronthematterbeforegiving Pompous
pompous adefinitiveanswer.
words/phrases
(b)IwanttothinkaboutthematteralittlemorebeforeI Unpretentious
giveafinalanswer.

Beprofessional

Finally,youcanalsoimprovethestyleandtoneofyourmessagesbybeingprofessionalinyour
writing.Thisrequiresyoutolookatsituationsinanobjectiveandprofessionalmanner.Todo
this,youmusttryto:

Generalizeexperiencesandsimplifyexamples
Beobjective
Maintaindignity
Besincere

Thefollowingtablegivessomeexamples.

Writingthat: Examples Style/Tone


Generalizes (a)Forexample,Ioncewaited40minutesforaservice197 Concise
experiences, busbecausetwopreviousbusespassedwithoutstopping. Simple
simplifies
(b)TherewasonetimewhenIspentnearly40minutes
examples
waitingfortwobusesonService197whichdrovepast Toodetailed
withoutstopping.Thentherewasanothertimewhen


Isobjective (a)Moreover,thebusdriversofsuchoncomingbuseswould Subjective
seizetheopportunitytosteerrightandbypassthebusstop. Emotional

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(b)Furthermore,thebusdriverswhotailgateotherbuses Objective
alsotendtobypassthebusstop.

Maintains (a)Asavaluedcustomer,youcanrestassuredthatwewill Dignified
dignity takeeveryprecautiontoensurethatyougetthebest
serviceinthefuture.

(b)Sinceyouareourvaluablecustomer,wehopeyouwill Undignified
giveusanotherchancetoprovethatwecandoagoodjob.

Issincere (a)Yourphenomenalcontributiontoourunderstandingof Exaggerated
taxlawsisremarkable.
Sincere
(b)Wewouldliketothankyouforhelpingusgainabetter Truthful
understandingoftaxlaws.

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TUTORIAL EXERCISES
ACTIVITY1

BRANDING SINGAPORE

Singaporehasrecentlyembarkedonaprojecttochangeitsimagetopeopleoutsidethe
country.ThisisspearheadedbytheMinistryofInformation,CommunicationsandtheArts
(MICA).ThenewformulafocusesonbrandingSingaporeasnurturing,transforming,
activelycollaboratinganddaringtodream.Theplan,however,willnotreplacethecore
valueswhichSingaporehasbeenknowntorepresentsuchassafe,cleanandefficient
(seeTan,2010,p.E2).Thefollowingaresomeexamplesofwordstobeavoided(offbrand)
andalternativewords(onbrand)astheyappearfromtheBrandSingaporeMessagingGuide
(seeTan,2010,p.E3).

Offbrand Onbrand
xAuthorize Enable,empower
xConvert Adapt
xInsist Request
xRulesandregulations Guidelines
xRevolutionary Innovative,new

QUESTIONS

1. Whattransformationsinmeaningoccurifoffbrandwordsarechangedtoonbrand
ones?Studyeachofthewordsabove.
2. BybrandingSingaporethroughpracticessuchaslinguisticchangesabove,whatdoyou
thinkcomefirstwordschangingrealityorrealitychangingwords?
3. IsBrandingSingaporeaformofbusinesscommunication?

ACTIVITY2:Changingtonethroughlinguistictransformations

ThefollowingmemoiswrittenbyChngMengTeng,AssistantManager(inchargeofDelivery
andRelatedServicesorDRS)ofMachinesandTechnicalInsourcing,Inc.Thismemois
addressedtoall24staffmembersbelongingtotheDRSDepartmentofthecompany,manyof
whomareseniormemberswhohaveservedthecompanyformorethan20years.MrChng,
whohasanMBAdegreefromaEuropeaninstitution,wasrecruitedbythecompanythreeyears
agotohelpimproveitssalesandpublicrelations.Theworkentailedinthememomayprove

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difficulttomostpeoplebecauseitcameatatimewhenthemidyearsalesindividualreview
putsalotofstressoneveryone.CriticallyreviewtheemailthatChngMengTenghaswritten
andanswerthequestionsthatfollow.

MEMORANDUM

To :Allstaff,DRSDepartment
From :ChngMengTeng
Date :15July2010
Subject:Updatingdatabase

AsIalreadymentionedtoyouinourmeetingtwodaysago,Iwantyounowtobe
responsibleforupdatingintoourdatabaseinformationonalldeliveredmachines.Such
responsibilitiesincludethefollowing:
1. Updatingeverytwoworkingdaysallthenamesofcustomersandtheequipment
theybought.
2. UpdatingthedatabasewithallthemissingS/N,receiptnumbers,options,end
customers,POs,installationdates,deliverydates,contactpersons,etc.Bytheend
ofnextweek,alldeliveredmachinesshallbefoundanddetectableinourdatabase.
Thedatabasemaylookrathercomplexbutsinceyouveworkedwithcomputers,you
shouldhavenoproblemfiguringouthowitworks.
3. Followinguponinstallationreports.Iftheequipmentisalreadydeliveredbut
installationreportsarenotyetavailableinSingapore,JohorandPenang,houndthe
agentorrepofficetosendyouthereport.Idontacceptanyexcusefromtheagent.
Andyouarenottoacceptanyexcusefromtheagentaswell.

ThisissuehasbecomeimportantnowandthereforeIrequireyoutotakeresponsibilityfor
this.Idemand100%compliance.

CMT

Ingeneral,howdoyoudescribethetoneofthememo?Chooseatleasttwowordsthat
appropriatelydescribethetone(e.g.,friendly,respectful,angry,condescending)and
specificallyidentifywords,phrasesorsentencesinthememowhichserveasevidenceforyour
observation.

Belowisarevisedversionofthememo.Readitandfollowtheinstructionsbelow:

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MEMORANDUM

To :Allstaff,DRSDepartment
From :ChngMengTeng
Date :15July20xx
Subject:Updatingdatabase

Asafollowuptomydirectiveinourmeetingtwodaysago,Iurgeyoutoberesponsiblefor
updatingourdatabasewithinformationonalldeliveredmachines.Thefollowingareyour
responsibilities:
1. Updatethedatabaseeverytwoworkingdayswithallthenamesofcustomersand
theequipmenttheybought.
2. UpdatethedatabasewithallthemissingS/N,receiptnumbers,options,end
customers,POs,installationdates,deliverydates,contactpersons,etc.Bytheend
ofnextweek,alldeliveredmachinesshouldhavebeenenteredinthedatabase.The
databasemaylookrathercomplexbutitisactuallyeasytouse.Shouldyouneed
helptouseit,donothesitatetocontactRonnieChuaorMaybelleNgfromtheIT
Division.
3. Followuponinstallationreports.Iftheequipmentisalreadydeliveredbut
installationreportsarenotyetavailableinSingapore,JohorandPenang,chasethe
agentorrepofficetosendyouthereport.Weshouldnotacceptanyexcusesfrom
theagent.

Thishasbecomeanimportantissuenowbecauseoftheneedtobecomemoretransparent
andmoreefficientinourdeliveryofservicesandaccountingoffacilitiesandfinances.
Therefore,everyonemustberesponsibleforupdatingourdatabasewiththenecessary
information.100%complianceisrequired.

CMT

Instructions:

Describethegeneralchangeintone(orvoice)inthememo.
Identifyorunderlinethechangesmadethatledtothisshiftintone.
Describethestylisticorlinguisticstrategiesemployedineachchange.

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CentreforEnglishLanguageCommunication
NationalUniversityofSingapore

ACTIVITY3:Changingattitudesthroughchangesinstyle

Readtheoriginalsentencesbelowandfindouthoweachhasbeenrevisedtoachievea
differenttone1.Whatattitudesareconveyedbytheoriginalsentences?Whatcouldbethe
effectoftherevisiononthereader?

Original Revised

1.Asyouwouldcertainlyagree,Iamqualified 1.Iamconfidentthatmyextensiveexperiencein
forthepositionIamapplyingfor. theretailindustrymeetsyourrequirementsfor
thejobs.
2.YouleftthefrontdooropenlastFriday,thus 2.Securityofpersonnelwascompromised
securityofpersonnelwascompromised. becausethefrontdoorwasnotclosedlastFriday.
3.Eachemployeeisencouragedtobringhis 3.Employeesareencouragedtobringtheir
familytothecompanydinner. familiestothecompanydinner.
4.Ourcompanyisworkingonyourordernow. 4.Yourorderwillbeshippedtoyouinfourdays.
5.IamsorrytoinformyouthatIamturning 5.IamsorrytoinformyouthatIamunableto
downyourinvitationtospeakonGlobal acceptyourinvitationtospeakonGlobaltrends
trendsinfinancemanagementinyour infinancemanagementinyourseminarthis
seminarthisNovember.Itdoesnotgivemean November.Myexpertiseisincrosscultural
opportunitytoutilizemyexpertiseincross communication,notfinancemanagement.
culturalcommunication.
6.Weareverysorrythatwecannotgiveyou 6.Weregrettoinformyouthatweareunableto
thediscountyourequested. giveyouthediscountyourequested.
7.Weregrettoinformyouthatweareunable 7.Duetotherecentglobalslumpinsales,we
togiveyouthediscountyourequested.Our regrettoinformyouthatweareunabletogive
companyhasrecentlybeenaffectedverybadly youthediscountyourequested.
bytheglobalslumpinelectronicsales.
8.Sinceyouhavenotemailedusyour 8.Sincethedeadlinehaslapsedforcustomersto
preferredmodeofpaymentwithinthe emailustheirpreferredmodeofpayment,wewill
specifieddeadline,weareforcedtodeductthe deducttheamountduefromyourchecking
amountduefromyourcheckingaccountatthe accountonMonday,3October2008.
soonestpossibletime.
9.Wewouldappreciateitifyouadviseuson 9.Pleaseletusknowifyouwantyourordertobe
whatyouwanttodowithyourorder.Youmay sentviaaircargoorshipment.AircargocostsS$58
wishtohaveitsentviaaircargo(S$58)or whileshipment(34weeks)costsS$14.
shipment(S$14).
10.Thecompanyisinreceiptofyour 10.Wereceivedyourrequestforadvanced
correspondenceregardingadvancedhotel bookingsfortheconference.
bookingsfortheconference.

1
Notethattherevisedsentencesarenotnecessarilyidealsentencesthatcanbeusedinanybusiness
communicationcontext.Thepurposeofthisactivityisforyoutoseehowstylehasbeenchangedtoproducea
differenttone.Youmaylearnfromsomeofthestrategiesusedinrewritingthesentences.
37|P a g e
CentreforEnglishLanguageCommunication
NationalUniversityofSingapore

ACTIVITY4:Establishingreaderwriterrelationshipsthroughlanguageuse

Readthefollowingtwoletterswhichrepresentdifferentresponsestoanunsolicitedjob
application.

LETTER1

IappreciateyourinterestinapositionwithResearchCommunications.Thankyouforsendingus
yourletterandresume.

YourqualificationsareverygoodandIwishthatwewereabletomakeuseofyourobvioustalents.
However,ourMarketingDepartmenthasnoopenpositionsatthepresenttime.

Iwillbehappytokeepyourletterandresumejustincaseajobopeningbecomesavailablein
Marketing.Ifso,youmaybesurethatIwillcontactyou.Inthemeantime,Isuggestthatyou
continueyourjobsearchwithothercompanies,andmightIwishyouluckinyoursearch.

ThankyouonceagainforyourinterestinResearchCommunications.

LETTER2

YourapplicationforapositionwithResearchCommunicationshasbeenreceived.Thankyou.

Unfortunately,therearenovacanciesinourMarketingDepartmentatthistime.
Further,weexpectnovacanciesinthisdepartmentinthenearfuture.Wethereforeregrettoinform
youthatwecannotprocessyourapplicationbecauseoflackofvacancyinthedepartment.

YourinterestinResearchCommunicationsisappreciated.Shouldyouneedfurtherclarification,
pleasedonothesitatetocontactme.Wewillansweryourquestionsasbestaswecan,butweare
deeplysorryfornotbeingabletoconsideryouforanyvacancyinourdepartment.

Ourbestwishesinyourcareer.

Nowanswerthefollowingquestions.

1. Whichofthetwolettersestablishesamorepositivereaderwriterrelationship?
2. Identifytheelementsofstyleandtonethatmakethelettermoreeffectivethantheother.

Bibliography
Tan,H.(2010,July10).Jumpingonthebrandwagon.TheStraitsTimes,pp.E2,E3.

38|P a g e
CentreforEnglishLanguageCommunication
NationalUniversityofSingapore