Discourse Analysis of Business Contracts from the Perspective of Systemic Functional Grammar

Abstract: English business contract is the fundamental link between business entities or individual businesses in China and aboard. With the tremendous growth in volume of international investment and trade, the application of business contracts in business activities is more and more frequent and increased attention has been given to the investigation of business contracts. Yet, most of the researches so far only lay on general introduction or simple description of the stylistic features of business contracts and the linguistic study of various business documents is just at its beginning stage, especially the discourse analysis of certain business documents such as business letters, business contracts, and laws and regulations that stipulate business activities. Against this context, the author’s endeavor in this thesis is to adopt the Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) by M.A.K. Halliday in the analysis of business contract discourse through comparative, quantitative and qualitative studies.For the purpose of further verifying the applicability of Systemic Functional Grammar in various language texts and extending the research scope of this language theory, the author uses the core thought of SFG — three metafunctions as the theoretical frame and analyzes the means and characteristics of realizing the ideational, interpersonal and textual functions in business contract discourse. The thesis is divided into six parts:Chapter one briefly introduces the background of the research and the definition of Business Contract.Chapter two reviews the development of Systemic Functional Grammar theory and discourse analysis theory. Chapter three first gives an overall introduction of the theoretical basis — Systemic Functional Grammar, and then details into the theory and methodology of discourse analysis under SFG.Chapter four summarizes the data collection and the analysis method used in this paper.Chapter five is the core of the thesis, analyzing the realization of metafunctions in business contract in the aspects as transitivity and voice that realizes ideational function, speech role, mood and modality that realize interpersonal function, and Theme-Rheme system and the cohesion and coherence of the text that realize the textual function.Chapter six is a conclusion and implication.In this research, the author proves that Systemic Functional Grammar is well applicable to business contracts. Use SFG theory in the understanding and drafting business contracts is quite effective, and the readers and writers will feel easier to catch the essence of this unique language style rather than just learn the template of the business contract without knowing why it appears in this way. Through this guidance, the communicative effect of English business contract can be raised a lot and there will be less miscommunication and economic loss in business activities…
Key words: Systemic Functional Grammar; discourse analysis; business contract; metafunctions

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