Characteristics of bureaucratic language
A STUDENT SHALL NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR A LOAN IN RELATION TO AN ACADEMIC YEAR IF HE/SHE:
(a) has attained1 the age of 50 years before the first day of the course;
(b) has received another loan in relation to the same academic year;
(c) has received another loan in relation to another academic year which began during the same period 1st August to the
following 31st July during which the academic year began;
(d) is eligible in respect of that year to receive:
(i) * any payment under a bursary or award of similar description bestowed on2 him/her under section 63 of the Health
Services and Public Health Act 1968(2) the amount of which is not calculated by reference to his/her income.
Your request to demolish1 the garage adjoining2 your property is hereby rejected. Any and all appeals regarding this decision
must be submitted to the undersigned3 by Jan 31 2018. No exceptions to the aforementioned4 procedure will be considered.
knock down 2 next to 3 the person who wrote this letter 4 mentioned earlier
Some publications produced by companies or government departments are difficult to understand
because they use language that is very different from everyday English.
They frequently use words that are longer and "grander" than their ordinary equivalents.
They often use a passive form instead of an active one, e.g. "Normal service will be resumed as
soon as possible" instead of "We will resume normal service as soon as possible."
They use nouns as the subject of the sentence when they are not necessary, e.g. "Achievement
of this module is dependent upon candidates meeting the assessment outcomes" instead of "To
achieve this module, candidates must meet the assessment outcomes."
They use a noun instead of You, e.g. Customers will be informed of …" instead of "You will be
informed of …" or even "We will tell you about …"
These words are more frequent in a bureaucratic context:
Work will commence in May. [start] (noun = commencement)
The company ceased operations last year. [stopped functioning] (noun = cessation)
Property belonging to the deceased will be returned to the next of kin. [dead person] [closest relative]
In the event of an emergency, call 121. [if there is]
In the event of fire, the building must be evacuated immediately. [people must leave]
Tenants must endeavour to keep communal areas tidy at all times. [try]
The developments will facilitate movement of traffic in the area. [make possible, easier]
Residents will be instructed what to do in the event of an emergency. [will be told]
The project will proceed to the next phase in June. [move]
We are currently attempting to rectify the situation. [put right]
Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. [start again]
There is some specific vocabulary that characterises bureaucratic letters:
Please acknowledge receipt of payment. [inform us that you have received]
With the compliments of Smith and Co. [written on a slip of paper sent with an item from a company]
Please notify us immediately of any change of address. [inform]
I would be grateful for a reply at your earliest convenience. [as soon as possible]
Contact us if further clarification is required. [you need more of an explanation]
I enclose payment in respect of your invoice. [relating to, for]
I am writing with regard to your advertisement. [about]
Look at the two texts in A opposite. Find an example in the texts of each of the four
characteristics of bureaucratic language listed in the bullets in A.
Read each sentence. Choose the word in the second sentence which gives the same
meaning in simpler language.
1 Roadworks will commence on 1 June.
Roadworks will begin / end on 1 June.
2 (on a form) Contact details for next of kin.
Write the name and address of your neighbour / nearest relative.
3 With the compliments of Jane Bramwell.
With best wishes / love from Jane Bramwell.
4 Call me at your earliest convenience.
Call me early in the morning / as soon as you can.
5 In the event of fire, lifts should not be used.
If there is a fire / At the start of a fire, don't use the lifts.
6 Passengers should await instruction from the captain before proceeding to the car deck.
Passengers should not go to / leave the car deck until the captain tells them to.
7 I am writing with regard to the editorial in today's paper.
I am writing for / about the editorial in today's paper.
8 I am writing in respect of your letter of 6th June.
I am writing in connection with / in favour of your letter of 6th June.
Match the words with their synonyms. Which word or phrase in each pair exemplifies
let us know
Complete the word formation table below. Note that not all the words are on the
opposite page. Use a dictionary if necessary.
Rewrite the sentences using everyday, non-bureaucratic English to replace the
underlined words and phrases. Use a dictionary if necessary.
Clients must comply with the following regulations.
Insert coins into the slot below.
Your complaints have been investigated and are considered to be without foundation.
Passengers are requested to refrain from smoking.
Tick your country of residence.