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On the development and basic characteristics of international shipping english

AUTHOR: TIME:2023-03-16 14:11:36CLICK:3

"International shipping English" refers to the English involved in the field of international shipping, which mainly includes shipping logistics, cargo transportation, maritime law, etc. This English is a major communication language in international shipping because of its complexity and outstanding features. Since the 1990s, the author of this book has studied the characteristics of this English, and there have been several basic changes in this English in the past 30 years.


1. British English stage: due to the shipping status of Britain in history, British English is the English advocated in the shipping industry in the first half of the last century, and English communication in the industry is basically British English, such as letters or telegrams, such as "Should you have any questions, please feel free to ask." With the formation of the pattern of shipping diversification and internationalization, from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, This English is transformed from British English to non-standard English used by many countries. For example, in the 1980s, the above expression no longer used should as the guide word of the adverbial clause, but changed to "If you have questions, please feel free to ask." or "If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask." or other more casual expressions. However, at that time, the English characteristics of the shipping industry were still pursuing the characteristics of pure British English. People would emphasize the accuracy of English, that is to say, English should pay attention to grammar.


At that time, China's large-scale foreign trade export was just beginning, and the main team in the field of international logistics was the Chinese foreign agent. The international shipping English understood by Chinese practitioners is mainly related to the English language of Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan and other Southeast Asian countries, and they do not fully understand the structural features of the international shipping English dominated by Europe and the United States.


2. The stage of forming the characteristics of professional English: in the 1990s, the main communication media of shipping English were telex and fax. Since Morse telegraph transmission between ships had been used for nearly 100 years, because Morse telegraph transmission was relatively slow, at that time, the proposed messages were all in the form of abbreviations. Sometimes, in order to save words, individual words were transcribed according to the pronunciation, such as 4=four or for, T4=there, B4=before 2=two or too. For another example, MSG 4 U=I have a message for you. Because the people who planned to write the message at that time were mainly the captain, they were very familiar with the freight business. At that time, there was a lack of professionals trained in logistics at home and abroad. Many captains went to land to engage in the maritime logistics industry. They brought the spelling habit of Morse telegraph message and the thought method of saving words into their work, so that the maritime logistics industry had many abbreviations, Sometimes we have to use a large number of abbreviations in order to reduce the number of words. It is precisely because of these abbreviations that shipping English is more professional, and even professional to the extent that practitioners who have graduated from foreign language majors do not receive training and study and cannot understand English messages. The reason is that there are so many abbreviations, and many abbreviations can not be obtained from dictionaries or the Internet, nor can they be inferred from the context. Don't understand the message and dare not ask the sender (Note: The unspoken rule in the language is that when a layman asks for a word, he will reveal the weakness of the industry that he does not understand. When the weakness is found by the other party, it will often affect the business and sometimes cause huge losses. Some unscrupulous businessmen will dig a trap for the other party and let the uninformed suffer; some unscrupulous businessmen who do not want to talk with the new hand will find another hand to complete the business and give up doing business with the new hand.). Because of the simplicity of abbreviations, an abbreviation saves a lot of things. Sometimes two native speakers of both sides also use English abbreviations, such as MOLOO (more or less according to owner's option), WWD SHEX (weather working day Sunday and Sunday excluded), LAYCAN (layday and canceling date), CQD (Custom Quick Dispatch), "Except for sunny working days, Sundays and holidays", "loading and unloading period", "port customary loading and unloading speed", etc. First of all, if you speak English and Chinese for a long time without context, sometimes fuzzy semantics will appear. For example, for the four terms just mentioned, new entrants must ask, who decides MOLOO? Is it the owner "shipowner" or "cargo owner"? Is the definition of WWD SHEX weather working day very vague? We can't load or unload goods in rainy days. What about foggy days? Where is the gale? Does LAYCAN "perform the loading and unloading contract" or "cancel the loading and unloading contract"? If it is cancelled, why should it sign the contract if it does not perform the contract? How fast is the port used to? A week? one month? A quarter? Or a year? These questions seem to be vague. In fact, when asked, we knew that the questioner did not go deep into the whole process of business or that the questioner was not an insider, or understood the habitual operation of pedestrians. As long as we study several cases of our company, from the perspective of negotiation, contract signing, and goods operation, we would not have any questions.


Therefore, in order to solve the puzzle of shipping English in the shipping industry at that time, the author of this book went deep into some shipping enterprises in China to study and study the practical text, and compiled the Practical Shipping Business English Correspondence (published by Dalian Maritime University Press). The main solution is to solve many incomprehensible abbreviations, summarize the rules of abbreviations, and use the rules of abbreviations to analyze the correspondence, which solved many puzzles, As the English of the shipping industry belongs to English for Special Purposes (ESP), those who can speak ordinary English at a high level and do not understand these rules can not enter the industry. Through the analysis of shipping business English, more practitioners can understand the industry as soon as possible. I remember that in my spare time, the captain used the idea of the shipping industry to write a riddle to test the apprentice. For example, he wrote down U R YYs to let the apprentice guess. The apprentice's English skills were very good, but he did not study the shipping industry abbreviation rules, let alone guess that the answer to the riddle was a simple sentence, "You are too wise." In fact, the method used pronunciation and transcription, in order to simplify the sentence, Only five letters replace a sentence composed of 13 letters. Is it very economical to use "telegraph message" in this sentence? But the price is that the recipient needs to take longer to interpret the information content.


3. Highlighting the characteristics of multinational English: From the beginning of this century, shipping English has a new trend. First, the number of abbreviations of non-terms in English sentences has decreased significantly. The main reason is that telex and fax are not the main means of communication between the two sides in international shipping, while e-mail has become the main means of communication between the two sides. Therefore, most of the abbreviations are no longer used in communication, for example, the use of 4 instead of for has disappeared. Some phenomena of omitting function words have decreased, for example, wait is directly followed by the object without adding "for". In the era of shipping English in which the principle of Morse telegraph message drafting prevails, it is not because the message writer does not understand English grammar, but specifically does so in order to save words. At the beginning of this century, shipping English was once close to ordinary English, mainly because the transmission mode of correspondence was changed to e-mail transmission mode. Therefore, many foreign language graduates have become practitioners after very short training, and are playing a major role in the industry. At present, there have been some changes in international shipping English. First, those complicated shipping English should be transformed into simplified shipping English. As the international shipping center moves eastward, Britain and the United States are no longer the center of the international shipping industry, and the developing international shipping represented by China has risen. International shipping English has changed from the original rigorous British English to the multinational simplified shipping English. However, contract terms and documents with legal effect still adopt the structural system of British English, and mutual e-mail communication does not adhere to English grammar rules and non-term abbreviations. W/I has been replaced by "all in", BCS has been replaced by "all in", and WZ has been replaced by "all in". There are many such examples. The main reason is that the communication mode has changed. The purpose of saving is to make the recipient stop and think less. After all, everyone's time is limited in business. Saving the other party's time is also a kind of goodwill and service. No one is willing to interpret the message as a riddle. If you interpret the message incorrectly, you will suffer losses. From the 1980s to 1990s, the accusatory English sentence "Please peruse my last text. By 2023, the new pattern of the international shipping industry has taken shape. The use of shipping English is significantly different from the form of shipping English in the last century. When we communicate, we mainly speak efficient, fast and smooth communication. Therefore, the international shipping English that strictly complies with the language habits of British English is rapidly declining, while the new model of multinational convergence has taken shape. G-day (Good day) is usually used to greet people, rather than other expressions. Because of the existence of the time difference in the international time zone, it is not reasonable to use Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. In addition, it is simpler than Nice to write this letter to you. Even the conservative and obstinate Britons have to admit that what they used to think of as "non-standard English" or "deteriorated" (the verb "deteriorate" was once used in the Quark grammar) is actually a dialect of English, and the discriminatory label of "standard and non-standard" on English does not lead to more standard English, but only to a reduction in the use of English. The concept of maritime English was also established at the beginning of the 21st century, and native speakers of English also recognized that maritime English is a kind of English for special purposes (ESP). The paradigm of shipping English is evolving, and the use of words is not extensive, but tends to be relatively fixed. Even some verbs have participated in the formation of shipping English paradigm. For example, I rarely see high-level shipping practitioners use the words "suggest" and "advise" to express suggestions. Most of them use "recommend". For example, the English verb "read" to let "the other party read the message" mentioned above does not usually use "read", but usually uses peruse to express "read" or "read carefully without missing details". In our Chinese concept, it is "semantic between lines". Because there are many ways of "reading", including skip reading, scan reading, and reading. It is not suitable for the shipping industry to use read, which is as precious as gold in the message to be written. It can only jump out of the semantic circle of read and find another verb to express that reading the message is not the conventional "reading". In the final analysis, the shipping industry and other industries are more closed than the social system. The adoption of a shipping English with obvious professional characteristics is to hope that every practitioner is a master in the industry. There is no need to be wordy semantic self-explanatory in the back and forth messages, so business is very smooth. However, there are two aspects to everything. The first advantage is that shipping English has its own complete system. Both sides understand its rules, which is very efficient and saves time. The disadvantage is that too much emphasis on the professionalism of the circle leads to stubbornness. The shipping industry has formed a tradition that even mistakes can not be corrected in a short time. For example, the author believes that the WWD we mentioned earlier is said to be "sunny workday" in Chinese, but it is very difficult to change it into "sunny workday". At the beginning, casual translation has been popularized in the industry. It takes a very long period to correct it, and some are almost unshakable. Another example is that "pilot" in the technical corpus has been defined for decades, although at present domestic textbooks and publications stipulate that only the correct term "pilot" can be used. But at present, the word "pilot" is still widely used in the actual communication of the shipping industry, and the word "pilot" is almost regarded as an inaccurate term on board. The phenomenon is that teachers use "pilot" in class and students learn "pilot", but once they work on the ship, less than half a year, they completely forget the word "pilot".


Since shipping English has changed, it is very necessary to rewrite "Practical Shipping Business English Correspondence" (the third edition, published by Dalian Maritime University Press in February 2022). This version has added new changes in the content and form of shipping English, reflecting the more international and professional shipping English language, and also confirming that shipping is strong in China and the economy is strong in China. Shipping English, which promotes the influence of Chinese concept, appears in the international shipping dance stage, and China has a stronger voice in the international shipping economic stage.


Source: Xinde Maritime Search and Navigation Network