Formal vs. Informal Writing
Hi, my name is Robert Houser. Welcome to TransLegal's lesson of the week.
Today I'm going to be talking about formal versus informal language in legal correspondence, particularly letters and e-mails. In this case we'll be talking about attachments a little bit, so we can say we're talking about e-mails today.
This is a very important area, formal versus informal because it affects test scores on the writing part of the international Legal English certificate. Specifically the examiners will be looking sometimes at whether you're writing in a formal manner, because the letter in Part 1 of the writing is usually a formal letter, from lawyer to lawyer and, therefore, has to have a formal sort of feel to it rather than informal. So that's why it's important so teachers should be aware of it and students should learn it.
So, let's start out here. We've got formal on this side and informal on this side. We'll look at the formal first. Take a quick look at this, and then a look at this and see whether you can match these up. I'll give you a second or two. Good luck.
OK, not a whole lot to look at here so I'll pop right in here. So, on the formal side you have kindly let me know which is very nice, that's a nice way to say it. On this side you have something that you might tell a friend, not a lawyer, just when you're talking to them which is tell me, which doesn't really work good on paper, it might work good when you're speaking to a friend but not when you're writing formal legal correspondence.
So then the next one would be I attach, so you've got an e-mail. A lot of times we'll see the informal -- this one up here which is Here's the, in other words instead of saying I kindly or please find attached blah blah blah, you see Here's the blank document you were supposed to get, ... . So certainly this is much better I attach in formal writing.
Then the next one is which you requested, very simply that one is you asked for. Sorry, I've forgotten to mark down these things so here:
Kindly let me know – Tell me;
I attach – here's the;
which you requested – you asked for, requested is a nicer word, higher register
And then let me know as soon as possible, can you see that? Let me know as soon as possible – on this side would be Tell me asap, which really doesn’t sound nice at all, especially in formal writing.
And then finally, you have down here, you have Many thanks and that would be Thanks a lot.
So again, over here you have stuff that you might say orally, but you wouldn't want to necessarily put this in a writing. This is the stuff that you would use in writing especially when you're talking about formal writing.
So just something to keep a heads-up on, especially for you test-takers, that formal writing is important -- when you’re speaking it might be ok depending on the setting -- but certainly it will affect your grades in writing and certainly when I'm looking at things and assessing things, that's one of the first things I look at because I know that even though a person might be speaking very very well and might have great reading skills and great listening skills, for some reason, because they don't practise writing in a formal manner as much as they should, they tend to fall into this trap. That if it sounds good it's going to work good even in a formal setting. And that's just not the case.
So if you have any comments or questions regarding what I've stated today, just leave them below. Thank you very much.