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I'm interested in how the modern professional email structures differ between Chinese and English.

I'd like to create a go-to template/structure that can convert what native English speakers typically write to what a native Chinese speaker typically write.

I intentionally chose the phrase 'modern professional' as opposed to 'formal'. In the English speaking world, communication, especially emails, has been less formalised in my opinion. For example, addressing by first name instead of Mr./Ms.; using Kind regards instead of Yours faithfully; getting straight to the point faster instead of starting with I'm writing to enquire about...; etc.

As a native English speaker and a speaker of Chinese as a second language, in the example below I've written a follow-up email to a job application.:

Subject: YYY branch ABC job application follow-up

Dear XXX Firstly, I hope you're staying safe and healthy during these tough times [Covid-19].

Secondly, I'd like to follow-up on my recent application to YYY London branch. I've applied via ZZZ to the ABC position. However, I'm not sure if you've received my application. To that effect I've attached a copy of my CV and Cover letter.

I'm very keen on joining YYY and I'm more than happy to discuss how I can be an asset to the team.

Please get in touch if you have any questions. Thank you for your time. I hope to hear from you soon.

Kind regards, John Smith

This is what I would write in Chinese but I've written it in an English way:

Subject: YYY办公室ABC工作申请后续

XXX您好

首先:在这天困难的时间,希望您安全和身体好。

第二:我想把我的最近伦敦办公室的工作申请后续一下。我通过ZZZ网站被ABC位置生情了。不过,我没有肯定贵公司收到我的工作申请。所以我把我的简历与求职信跟邮件附上了。

我很喜欢加入贵公司与我很开心讨论我怎么能成为贵公司团的利基。

有什么问题请取得联系我。谢谢您的时间。希望很早收到你的回复。

Name 敬上

I'd like to write and structure just how a native Chinese speaker would write a modern professional email.

Any suggestions be it editing, advice or resources on how to do this are much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

  • In Business English typically, especially when prospecting a job or requesting something from a superior, there is a certain naunce/etiquette. I'm guessing there is an equivalent naunce/etiquette of expressions in Chinese. I don't want to sound overpolite to the extent of being obsequious. Neither do I want to be rude/brash/too casual. For example, in 2020 we would never address the head of HR as respectable Mr./Ms./Director/ XXX...or Mr. XXX esquired...it would sound way too formal and probably inappropriate. – questioner56 Mar 28 at 17:49
3

主题:YYY分部ABC职位申请之跟进

尊敬的XXX,

您好!

望您安度时艰,身体无恙!

此函意在跟进本人近日申请伦敦分部职位一事。本人已经由ZZZ渠道递交对ABC职位之申请,以担忧贵方尚未收到之故,随函再附本人履历及求职信。效力于贵司之心愿迫切,所以确认再三,还望海涵!

如有疑问,请与本人联系。感谢拨冗垂阅,敬盼回音!

此致,

祝好!

署名

I don't think it is just about one or two phrase substitutes, but the cultural differences behind writings... We tend to use more literary and concise expressions in mail, and we have a system of 敬语/谦词/雅言...

e.g.

安(safely)度(go through)时(recent/present)艰(tough situations)

无恙(without any illness)

此函(this letter)

意在(aiming at)

跟进...一事(follow up the thing that)

经由(via)

渠道(channel/means)

递交(submit)

以...之故(for the reason that…)

海涵(forgive me for [anything, here it means that I impatiently send another letter to check for my application (In Chinese culture, ask repeatedly for the same thing is rude)])

拨冗(kindly spend the time [for my business])

垂阅(read [my letter])

敬盼(sincerely look forward to)

回音(reply)

These expressions I list are "advanced" forms of what we would use in oral language, which we are supposed to use in a proper letter.

And

  • I'm very keen on joining YYY and I'm more than happy to discuss how I can be an asset to the team.

seems irrelevent in a follow-up letter (at least in Chinese cultural), so I rephrase it and append it to the previous paragraph, making it a cause explaining why I follow up the application business.

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2

主题:YYY 分公司 ABC 职位的求职申请的跟进

尊敬的 XXX

首先,我希望您在近期艰难的处境中保持安全和健康。

其次,我想跟进我最近向 YYY 伦敦分公司的求职申请。我已经通过 ZZZ 申请 ABC 职位。然而,我不确定 YYY 是否收到了我的求职申请。为此,我附上了我的简历和求职信。

我渴望加入 YYY,并很高兴讨论如何成为团队的得力干将。

如有疑问,请随时与我联系。感谢您能抽出时间考虑我的求职申请。期待尽快收到您的回复。

祝好
John Smith

  • branch 分部
    • 分公司 (for a firm)
    • 分行 (for a bank)
    • 分校 (for a school)
  • job application 求职申请 (more common) / 工作申请
  • follow-up 跟进 / 后续 (choose the word depends on situation)
    • 跟进投资项目
    • 后续报道
    • 复诊 (follow-up doctors appointment)
  • Dear XXX 尊敬的 XXX
  • To whom it may concern
    • 致有关人士 (direct translation)
    • 敬启者 (native: to the person who opens the letter)
  • Hi XXX XXX 你好
  • 首先,(also use comma in Chinese)
  • 这天 this day | 这些天 these days
  • during these tough times 在这些艰难的日子期间 (direct translation)
    在近期艰难的处境中 within tough situation recently
  • firstly 第一;首先 | secondly 第二;其次
    (If you have firstly, secondly, thirdly, fourthly, then use 第一, 第二, 第三, 第四; otherwise, use 首先, 其次)
  • application to ... 向……的申请
  • 贵公司 or YYY are both fine. YYY is easier for English speakers.
  • 本公司 or company name are both fine for saying my company.
  • position 位置 (place); 职位 (job position)
  • I'm not sure if ... 我不确定……是否……
  • 确定 confirm | 肯定 definitely; acknowledge (success, rights ...)
  • To that effect 为此
  • (a) copy of ... (一份)…… 的副本
    Drop it in Chinese if it would not cause ambiguous; but you can use 副本 in contract writing.
  • keen 渴望;热衷于 (hobbies)
    渴望 = 非常希望 (hope it strongly). So 非常渴望 sounds excessive. It is fine that just say 渴望 for very keen.
  • asset 资产 (money);优势 (skills for job);得力干将 (useful person in a team)
  • Please get in touch if you have any questions. 如有任何疑问,请与我联系 (direct translation)
    如有疑问,请随时与我联系。If you have questions, please (feel free to) contact me anytime.
  • Thank you for your time. 感谢您抽出时间。 (direct translation)
    If you could tell what the receiver does for you, it would sound more naturally in Chinese.
  • I look forward to hearing from you. 敬回复 / 我期待着你的回复。
  • RSVP (repondez s'il vous plait in French; please reply) 敬回复
  • Kind regards
    • 诚挚的问候 (direct translation)
    • 祝好 [native: wish (you) well]
  • Yours sincerely / Sincerely (yours) / Yours faithfully / Yours truly
    • 你诚挚的 / 你诚挚的 / 你忠诚的 / 你忠实的 (direct translation)
    • 谨此 [native: (end with) these respectfully]
  • 敬上 is no longer needed in modern writing in China; but I am not sure about that in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.
  • Placeholder Name in China: 小明, 张三 etc https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%84%A1%E5%90%8D%E6%B0%8F
    (By the way, et cetera is 等 in Chinese)
  • 约翰·史密斯 is used in the translation of literature, such as novel and biography. John Smith is recommend to used in actual life, including workplace, mailing address, contract etc.

PS (postscript 又及)

  • Advanced (typography): kerning is required between Chinese characters (Chinese punctuation excluded) and other scripts, e.g. numbers and Latin, Greek letters. In Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Word and Pages (Apple iWork), kerning is considered by default setting. In Markdown and email, a space is recommended to be added manually.
  • Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss/Prof/Dr Smith 史密斯 先生/女生/夫人/小姐/教授/博士 (PhD) or 医生
    (hospital)
  • Your/His/Her Majesty/Highness/Excellency 陛下/殿下/阁下
    e.g. Her Majesty The Queen 例:女王陛下 (Do not translate Your/His/Her)
  • 王 老师/院长/校长 (school and university); 经理/主任/总监/总裁/董事长 (company); 处长/科长/局长/厅长/部长 (government); 护士/律师/会计/大使 (profession)
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  • also why did you mention 本公司 ? Which part did I mention my company? – questioner56 Mar 28 at 17:29
  • If 敬请回复 is "please reply" in English, then that would come off a bit rude if I'm prospecting a job. We would typically request somebody reply indirectly e.g. "I hope to hear from you soon", etc. In Business English typically, especially when prospecting a job or requesting something from a superior, there is a certain naunce/etiquette. Is there an equivalent naunce/etiquette of expressions in Chinese? Don't want to sound overpolite to the extent of being obsequious. Neither do I want to be rude/brash/too casual. – questioner56 Mar 28 at 17:44
  • 1. Also why did you mention 本公司? I just want to tell you more, since 本公司 is relevant to 贵公司. – Bosai Apr 2 at 1:51
  • 1
    bosai. Thank you for mentioning the relevant points. This is all very much appreciated. I also appreciate @Toosky Hierot's translation and response. As a non-native Chinese speaker I did get the impression that it was more on the traditional side and less on the modern side. To be honest, this is the main issue at hand. These days when foreigners learn Mandarin and try to apply it they'll sound a bit weird and unnatural. Sometimes either too formal/traditional, the wrong expression or something else to that effect. – questioner56 Apr 3 at 12:10
  • 1
    Thank you!!! Very comprehensive responses 谢谢您丰富的评论 – questioner56 Apr 7 at 22:34

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