The subject of my research is “Style in letters and its maintenance in translation”. I am interested in this topic as letters are often used to communicate to individuals outside an organization, especially in formal and semi-formal contexts. Letters are essential in all spheres of our life, such as: business, politics, economics, etc. In spite of the fact that modern technology is developing so quickly, people still prefer letter to electronic mail as letter is more formal and reliable thhan electronic mail, more precise and permanent than telephone or face-to-face communication.
Consequently, I decided that such work will help to develop not only my skills of writing, but my real life skills as well. For example, after my graduation from Vilnius Law and Business College I will have to apply for a job. So, by this time I will have learnt how to write a letter of application and CV. Furthermore, I will be able to write to the edditor of a local newspaper or any authorities in case I am dissatisfied with anything in my life, for instance, with the fact of building a skyscraper just in front of my house. So, how can I do it? I ha
The aims and objectives of the work are the following ones:
• To analyze and to compare the English and Lithuanian styles and rules of letter writing;
• To become an independent learner;
• To improve my knowledge of English;
• To learn how to express my opinion and summarize my ideas;
• To be able to look up and find the information in different sources;
• To master my real skills.
II. THEORETICAL PART
1. TYPES OF LETTERS
There are various types of letters, such as:
a) letters of request; b) information letters; c) letters of advice; d) letters of suggestion/recommendations; e) letters of complaint; f) letters of apology; g) letters of application; h) letters to the editor/authority (expressing ann opinion and/or providing solutions/suggestions); i) transactional letters, etc.
A successful letter should consist of:
a) an appropriate greeting: e.g. Dear Ms. Crawley, Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Tony;
b) an introductory paragraph, which clearly states your reason for writing;
c) a main body in which you develop the subject, and deal with the additional objective(s) of the letter if necessary;
d) a conclusion in which you summarize the subject;
e) an appropriate ending: e.g. Yours Faithfully/Sincerely + full name, Best Wishes + first na
2. STYLES OF LETTERS
Formal letters are normally sent to people in an official position or people you don’t know well (e.g. Director of Studies, Personnel Manager, etc.). They are written in a formal style with a polite, impersonal tone.
• You can write a formal letter to apply for a job/course, make a complaint, give/request official information, etc.
• A formal letter should consist of:
a) a formal greeting ( e.g. Dear Sir/Madam – when you do not know the person’s name; Dear Ms Green – when you know the person’s name);
b) an introduction in which you write your opening remarks and mention your reason(s) for writing ( e.g. I am writing to apply for the position of .);
c) a main body in which you write about the main subject(s) of the letter in detail, starting a new paragraph for each topic;
d) a conclusion in which you write your closing remarks
e.g. I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible . ;
e) a formal ending (Yours Faithfully – when you do not know the person’s name; Yours Sincerely – when you know the person’s name; + your full name ).
Semi-formal letters are sent to people you do not know very well or when you want to be more polite and respectful (e.g. a
Informal: Thanks a lot for the invitation. I’d love to come to your party.
Formal: I would be delighted to attend your birthday celebration.
Semi-formal: Thank you for your kind invitation. I would love to join you on your birthday.
• A semi-formal letter should consist of:
a) a formal greeting: e.g. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Baker;
b) an introduction in which you write your opening remarks and clearly state the reason(s) for writing:
e.g. Thank you very much indeed for your kind offer . ;
c) a main body in which you write the main subject(s) of the letter in detail, Starting a new paragraph for each topic;
d) a conclusion in which you write your closing remarks: e.g. I am looking forward to seeing you next month . ;
e) a semi-formal ending ( Regards/ Best wishes, etc. and your full name).
Informal letters are sent to people you know well (e.g. friends, relatives, etc) about your recent news, personal problems, information you need, etc. They are written in an informal style with a ch
• An informal letter should consist of:
a) an informal greeting (Dear Ken/Aunt Joan/etc);
b) an introduction in which you write your opening remarks ( i.e. asking about your friend’s health, etc) and mention your reasons for writing:
e.g. Hi! How are you? I thought I’d write and let you know that.;
c) a main body in which you write the main subject(s) of the letter in detail, starting a new paragraph for each topic;
d) a conclusion in which you write your closing remarks:
e.g. That’s all my news for now. Write back soon .;
e) an informal ending (e.g. Lots of love/ Best wishes/etc + your first name).
Translating from English to Lithuanian and vice versa often causes a lot of problems, because the structure of these languages is rather different. In spite of this fact, in both these languages letters are written in a more or less similar way. As Lithuania does not have any particular way of writing the letters, the last ones are translated and written according to the English standard. To be more exact, according to the European Standard (since Lithuania is a member of European Union, where English is the international language).
So, let us consider the differences and similarities of writing and translating formal, semi-formal and personal letters both in English and Lithuanian languages.
2.1 Structure of formal/semiformal letters
Position: in the top right corner
The full address (number of the house, street, place, zip code, COUNTRY (in capital letters) while in Lithuania (street, number of the house, zip code, place, COUNTRY).
17 Orchard Rise Street Taikos st. 5-82
London NW 12 2022 Vilnius
Position: on the right, one line below the sender’s address.
In English there are several possible ways of date writing:
• Date, month, year (British):
a) 2nd February, 1994
b) 2 February, 1994
• Month, date, year (American):
a) February 2nd, 1994
b) February 2, 1994
However, in Great Britain the most common is the first one (i.e. 2nd February, 1994). It is also necessary to know that we should put a comma before the year, but not after it.
Some names of months can be abbreviated:
The names of such months as March, May, June, July cannot be shortened. The date can be also written by using numbers only. The most common are the following variants: 5-10-04 or 5/10/04.
However, 5/10/04 usually means 5 October 2004 in Britain and May 10, 2004 in America. To avoid any possibility to confuse your addressee, you should spell out the month or use its abbreviation.
There are 2 possible ways of date writing in Lithuanian:
a) it is written with Arabic numerals with gaps between year, month and day. The months and days (till 10) are always written using 2 numerals (i.e. insert “0” zero)
e.g. 1997 05 27; 2004 01 09
The date’s order in Lithuanian is following: year, month, day.
b) this way is called compound, because year and days are written in numbers with letters “m”-metai (year); “d”-diena (day). Months are written in words without any abbreviation.
e.g. 1997m. rugsėjo 6d. ; 2006m. sausio 1d.
It is forbidden to write “0” (zero) before numerals from 1 to 9, because these 2 ways cannot be mixed.
e.g. 1997m. rugsėjo 06d.
1999m. 08mėn. 03d. in this case “0” (zero) is unnecessary.
Position: it is written on the same line or one line below the date on the left side of the letter.
• The recipient’ full name
• The recipient’s job title, if appropriate
• The name of the company or institution, if appropriate
• The full address (number of the house, street, place, zip code, COUNTRY (in capital letters) while in Lithuania (street, number of house, zip code, place, COUNTRY).
e.g. John Blackwell
10 Green Street
London SW 10
Recipient’s address in Lithuanian is written in the same way. The only difference is that the recipient’s full name is written in Dative case in Lithuanian, if the recipient of the letter is Lithuanian.
e.g. Petrui Vaitkui Lietuvių kalbos katedrai
Ekonomikos Institutas Vilniaus Universitetas
However, Nominative case is used while sending a letter to another country.
Position: two-four lines below the recipient’s address.
Formal: If you do not know the name of the recipient of the letter, refer to the organization you are writing to (e.g. Dear Manager/Gerbiamas Direktoriau) or simply Dear Sir/Madam (Gerbiami ponai ir ponios).
Semi-formal: the salutation begins with “Dear/Gerbiamasis”, continues with the recipient’s title ( Ms., Miss, Mrs., Mr./pone, panele, pone) and the last name.
e.g. Dear Mr. Antanaitis Gerb. p. Antanaiti
In Lithuanian letters the abbreviation “p.” (ponas, ponia) usually used, so every recipient reads it according to his gender and marital status.
Ms, Miss or Mrs.?
Mrs. – to address married woman
Miss – to address unmarried woman (rarely used now)
Ms – to address woman of unknown marital status. It also used to address unmarried woman.
Punctuation after the salutation
In British English and Lithuanian, commas but not exclamation marks are used.
e.g. Dear Mr. Miller, / Gerb. p. Mileri,
Position: one–two lines after the salutation.
In English and Lithuanian body paragraph should be single spaced with a double space between paragraphs (indenting the first line of each paragraph is acceptable but is more informal than the non-indented style). Concise and direct purpose of the letter is stated in one or two paragraphs. Conclusion of the letter is a brief paragraph that both establishes goodwill and expresses what needs to be done next.
To pay respect to the person you are writing to, Lithuanians write the pronoun “ you/ Jūs” with the capital letter, while in English it is not common to do it, except very formal letters, for example, to the Queen, the President.
Position: two lines below the final body paragraph.
Formal: Writing the letter for the first time and not showing the recipient’s name, the complimentary closing should be the following:
Yours faithfully, Pagarbiai/Su pagarba/Jus gerbantis
Peter Jones Jonas Jonaitis
Semi-formal: to show respect for the recipient whose name you know, the complimentary closing should be the following:
Yours sincerely, Nuoširdžiai,
Maria Lopez Jonas Jonaitis
Writing to the recipient with whom you are on friendly terms you can write the following:
Love/Best regards/Best wishes/Yours,
Su meile/Geriausi linkėjimai/Tavo/Jūsų,
Writing a comma in Lithuanian and English endings depends on the existence of the comma in the salutation in this letter, i.e. if it is used in the salutation, it should be also used in the ending.
2.2 Informal letters
The style and technique of the informal letters do not differ in English and Lithuanian.
Personal letters, also known as friendly letters, and social notes normally have five parts.
1) The heading. This includes the address, line by line, with the last line being the date. Skip a line after the heading. The heading is indented to the middle of the page. If using stationery, just add the date (see “Address and date” example above).
2) Greeting. The greeting always ends with a comma. The greeting may be formal, beginning with the word “dear” and using the person’s given name or relationship, or it may be informal if appropriate.
Dear Uncle, Dear Mr. Wilkins, / Mielasis dede! Gerbiamasis p.Wilkins!
Hi Onute, Greetings, / Sveika, Onute! Sveikas gyvas! Labas labutis!
Occasionally very personal greetings may end with an exclamation point for emphasis.
3) The body. Also known as the main text. This includes the message you want to write. Normally in a friendly letter, the beginning of paragraph is indented. If not indented, be sure to skip a space between paragraphs. Skip a line after the greeting and before the close.
4) The complimentary close. This short expression is always a few words on a single line. It ends with a comma. It should be indented to the same column as the heading. Skip one to three spaces (two is usual) for the signature line.
e.g. Take care, Cheers, Yours + your name
Sudie! Tavo/Jūsų + name
5) The signature line. Type or print your name. The handwritten signature goes above this line and below the close. The signature should be written in blue or black ink. If the letter is quite informal, you may omit the signature line as long as you sign the letter.
Postscript. If the letter contains a postscript, begin it with P.S. and end it with author’s initials. Skip a line after the signature line to begin the postscript.
Please, see the “Personal Letter” example in the annex No. 1
III. PRACTICAL PART
1. COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF ENGLISH AND LITHUANIAN
STYLES OF LETTER WRIRTING
Actually, it is rather difficult and even impossible to analyze all types of letters in one work. Consequently, I tried to present the most common types of letters both in England and Lithuania nowadays.
Here is the analysis of most used letters. In fact, the style of writing the letters in Lithuanian is the similar to British. What is more, the useful phrases, typical of English letters, are translated into Lithuanian word by word.
e.g. Please let us know.
Prašome pranešti .
We thank you for your enquiry .
Dekojame už jūsų teiravimąsi . etc.
1.1 Application Letter
A formal letter of application, also known as a cover letter, is written when applying for a job or enrolling at any educational institution or courses. A job application usually includes educational/ professional qualifications, details of previous experience, as well as applicant’s qualities and skills. Previous experience should be presented in a clear order using linking words below:
Currently – dabar, šiuo metu
Before this/prior to this – prieš tai
Subsequently – po to, vėliau
Following – po
Whereupon – po to , etc.
Structure and Content of Application Letter:
In the first paragraph the information about the source of the job offer is mentioned and interest in the position is shown.
• Main Body
Paragraphs: 2. education and qualification
3. previous experience
4. personal qualities
The reasons of the application are given, benefits of the applicant, relevant qualification, experiences, etc. (It is important to refer to the requirements given in the job description). One should avoid negative statements (e.g. I have no/ very few experience, etc.).
In final paragraph the demonstration of the interest in the position once again is given.
Usage of the Tenses in the application is important:
– Present Perfect / Past Simple (for experiences gained)
– Present Simple (for general information)
Even if there are hundreds of experiences to emphasize, cover letter should be short (no longer than 1 page). Employers usually have to read a lot of applications and usually cannot afford spending all day reading lengthy cover letters.
Please, see the example of the application letter in the annex No. 2
I wish to apply for the post you advertised in the. (newspaper) of . (date).
Noriu paduoti prašymą pareigoms, apie kurias Jūs paskelbėte . (data) . (laikraštyje).
I have been informed that your company is looking for an agent/representative for the. area. Despite having a permanent post at present, I nevertheless wish to apply as from.
Man buvo pranešta, kad Jūsų kompanija ieško agento/atstovo. regionui. Nors šiuo metu turiu nuolatinį darbą, noriu paduoti prašymą dirbti nuo . (data).
I refer to your writing offer and wish to apply for your General Agency.
Remiuosi Jūsų raštišku siūlymu ir noriu paduoti prašymą dirbti Jūsų genereliniu agentu.
I wish to apply for the post you advertise. I would be grateful if you would send me further details.
Noriu paduoti prašymą Jūsų skelbtoms pareigoms. Būčiau dėkingas(-a), jei atsiųstumėte išsamesnę infornaciją,
I enclose my CV.
Pateikiu savo gyvenimo aprašymą.
At present I am working as.
Šiuo metu dirbu.
1.2 Curriculum Vitae (CV)
In most parts of the world, it is common to send a typed CV (Curriculum Vitae – British English) or resume (American English). This is an account of educational background and any previous work experience.
The word Curriculum Vitae literally translated means the story of your life. The words Curriculum Vitae are usually abbreviated to CV or C.V. and you will sometimes see it incorrectly written in lower case as c.v. or cv. The possessive form of Curriculum Vitae / CV should be written as Curriculum Vitae’s or C.V.’s or CVs, but not as c.v.’s or cv’s.
There are two main formats: the chronological and the functional. In both types there will be the same basic information (name, address, date of birth and civil status). A chronological CV is the most familiar layout. It is possible to start from the present and work back in time, or to begin at the start of one’s career and work forward in time. A functional CV is organised into specific categories of ability, useful if you have a short work record or previous jobs unrelated to current goals. It basically tells a potential employer what you can do.
The next section includes the information on the skills, interests/ hobbies, and referees.
The CV should be clear to read and present an attractive image of the person. It is important to highlight those features, which will interest the reader. It should not be too long. Space left blank on the page makes it easier to read quickly.
Please, see the CV example in the Annex No. 3
1.3 Letter of Inquiry
A letter of inquiry asks someone for specific information. In some cases, such as a request for promotional materials, the recipient will have a clear interest in responding to the letter. In other case, such as a request for specific information on a product, the recipient may or may not be motivated to respond quickly. Consequently, the tone of the letter is friendly and easy for the recipient to identify and provide required information.
Structure and Content of the Letter of Inquiry:
In the first paragraph, the identification of the person concerned is given and, if appropriate, position and company/institution is shown.
• Main body
In the second paragraph brief explanation, reason of enquiry and purpose of the usage of the requested information are given. The response confidential could be offered if such an offer seems reasonable.
• The list of the requested specific information is given. The requests can be put as questions or as a list of specific items of information. Each item should be clear and discrete.
some incentive for responding must be given in the conclusion of the letter.
Please, see the example of the letter of inquiry in the Annex No. 4
1.4 Letter to the Authorities/Editor
Letters to the authorities/editor are formal pieces of writing. They express a person’s concern about and views on a certain matter and usually contain suggestions on how to take a problem. You need to state the nature of the problem and its causes and effects.
Each point should be presented in a separate paragraph containing a clear topic sentence supported by examples and/or justification.
Structure and Content of the Letter to the Authorities
Paragraph 1: state reason(s) for writing and oinion
• Main body
Paragraphs 2-3: describe the problem(s) and consequences
Paragraphs 4-5: suggest solution/measure to be taken
Final paragraph: closing remarks
Letters to the editor of magazines and newspapers are written when a) we wish to express our approval or disapproval of something which is of interest to the general public or b) when we wish to replay to letters or articles previously published and on which we have strong views.
Letters of this type tend to contain a combination of formal and informal language such as idioms, phrasal verbs and rhetorical questions. This is done in order to have a more persuasive effect on the readers.
When writing a letter to the editor it is necessary to refer to what other people may think of the subject we are expressing our views on.
Structure and Content of the Letter to the Editor
Paragraph 1: state reason(s) and give opinion
• Main body
Paragraphs 2-3: give arguments to support your opinion/suggest what can be done
Paragraphs 4: present opposing viewpoint and contract it
Final paragraph: closing remarks
Please, see the example in the Annex No. 5
1.5 Letter of Complaint
A formal letter of complaint is writing to complain about a problem which has arisen (e.g. faulty merchandise, rude staff, inaccurate information, etc). It should explain the reasons for the complaint, and usually includes a suggestion/request/demand concerning what should be done (e.g. refund, compensation, etc).
Mild or strong language can be used depending on the writer’s feelings and the seriousness of the complaint, but abusive language must never be used.
The nature of the complaint should be clearly stated in the first paragraph. Each aspect of the topic should be presented in a separate paragraph containing a clear topic sentence. Each complaint should be supported by clear justification.
Structure and Content of the Letter of Complaint
Paragraph 1: state reason(s) for writing
• Main body
Paragraphs 2-3: state complaint(s) with justification
Paragraphs 4-5: suggest what should be done
Final paragraph: closing remarks
Please, see the example in the Annex No. 6
1.6 Letters for Special Occasions
Letters of invitation can be formal or informal depending on situation and addressee. They usually contain some additional information, for example: latest news, description of the event (party, wedding, etc.), place (hotel, house, etc.) and /or directions to the place.
Structure of invitation letter
• Paragraph 1 – reason(s) for writing (to invite)
• Main Body
• Paragraphs 2-3 – details / directions
• Final paragraph – closing remarks
• Full name
Please, see the example in the Annex No. 7
We would be honoured if you.
I cordially invite you to.
Your presence would be appreciated at.
You are invited to attend.
I’m writing to invite you to.
I’d love it if you could come to.
We’re organising a . and would love it if you could come
We would be grateful if you could.
Please indicate whether you will be able to attend
I hope you’ll be able to make it.
Hope you can come
Looking forward to seeing you then
Please let me know as soon as possible
Directions can be introduced by using some of the following expressions:
In case you don’t know the way.
I’ll give you some directions.
I have included some directions.
Letters of congratulation like invitation letters can be formal or informal depending on the situation and the addressee. These letters are written on the occasion of different celebrations, such as: birthdays, weddings, name-days, Christening parties, job anniversaries and public celebrations: New Year’s Day, Christmas, Easter, Independent Day, etc. Congratulations usually are short and may be presented as cards.
We wish to express our sincere congratulations on your birthday. Best wishes of further success in your work and of personal happiness.
Siunčiame nuoširdžius sveikinimus Jūsų gimimo dienos proga. Taip pat linkime sėkmės darbe ir laimės asmeniniame gyvenime.
Congratulations and best wishes on your birthday.
Sveikiname ir siunčiame geriausius linkėjimus jūsų gimimo dienos proga.
It is a great pleasure to congratulate you on your 40th birthday and we wish you strong health and successful work career.
Jaučiame didelį malonumą galėdami Jus pasveikinti su 40-uoju gimtadieniu ir linkime Jums stiprios sveikatos bei sėkmės darbinėje veikloje.
Please accept our warmest congratulations on the occasion of your company’s. anniversary.
Prašome priimti mūsų nuoširdžiausius sveikinimus jūsų kompanijos. (skaičius) jubiliejaus proga.
It’s a great pleasure to wish you our warmest congratulations on your promotion.
Mums labai malonu perduoti Jums šilčiausius linkėjimus Jūsų paaukštinimo proga.
Warmest congratulations on your new appointment.
Šilčiausiai sveikiname gavus naują paskyrimą.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Linksmų Kalėdų ir Laimingų Naujųjų Metų.
With Best Wishes for the coming New Year.
Patys geriausi Linkėjimai ateinančių Naujųjų metų proga.
We take this opportunityto wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.
Pasinaudodami šia proga, linkime jums linksmų Kalėdų ir labai laimingų Naujųjų metų.
We look forward to doing business with you again in the New Year and wish you all the best.
Linkime visokeriopos sėkmes ir tikimės jog ir Naujaisiais metais sėkmingai su jumis bendradarbiausime.
May we wish you and your staff a Merry Christmas and a prosperous a New Year.
Norime palinkėti jums ir jūsų personalui linksmų Kalėdų ir Naujųjų metų.
Greeting you with best wishes on the coming Easter.
Iš visos širdies sveikinu Jus su ateinančiomis Šv. Velykomis.
Best wishes for a pleasant and successful Easter.
Linkime malonų ir sėkmingų Šv. Velykų.
Our best wishes;
We wish you the best of everything life has to offer;
I wish you every happiness in world.
Having analysed different types of letters both in English and Lithuanian, we can make a conclusion that mostly all letters are written in similar way with some exceptions. Undoubtedly English way of the letter writing have spread in Lithuania and has become common word by word translating the useful phrases writing formal and semi-formal letters in Lithuanian.
As far as personal letters are concerned, it is not surprising that the way of writing these letters in Lithuanian resembles the English one. Travelling a lot, people communicate, our mentality and cultures are mixing and the identity is disappearing (the only difference one should pay attention to is the layout of the letters).
I suppose, carrying out this research was very useful because this work made me realize that English language is not only an essential tool to socialize, but is also necessary in writing any kind of letter since English phrases help us in creating Lithuanian ones. Now I am confident in writing of formal, semi-formal, personal letter both in English and Lithuanian. I could even teach my friends, relatives and colleagues to do it as well.