Diplomacy, Diplomatic Language


(A retired diplomat)

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines “diplomacy” as “the activity of managing relations between different countries, the skill in doing this.” It is “international diplomacy” Diplomacy is better than war. From another point of view” diplomacy used in relation to international politics is the act of forwarding one’s interest in relation to other countries. And according to Sir Ernest Satow, who had the experience of a long and distinguished career in the Majesty’s Diplomatic Service of the United Kingdom, “diplomacy is the application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between the governments of independent states. In brief, Sir Ernest Satow defined “diplomacy” as the conduct of business between states by peaceful means.
In the diplomatic handbook, second edition of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, diplomacy is defined explicitly. From it, I would like to mention just an extract. It reads as follows: “The very first and normal conduct of diplomacy is a general attitude of friendliness and persuasion, the way of polite argument of approach based on reason and interest. The second one is compromise. In essence, diplomacy is the first line of defence, and war is the final act of diplomacy. In this connection, I would like to mention the latest news item about 10 United States sailors who were taken into custody in the Gulf and then released on the next day by the Iranian authorities, thanks to diplomacy. H.E John Kerry, the United States Secretary of State thanked Iran and also credited the critical role diplomacy has played. Thus he said, “today this kind of critical issue can be resolved peacefully and efficiently and it is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong”.
From my own point of view, I think, diplomacy can be analytically defined as follows:
D=    Deep desire, dedication and determination to defend one’s native land.
I=     Intelligence, integrity
P= Persuasiveness, perseverance
L=    Loyalty to the mission
0 =     Oath of allegiance to one’s native land
M=    Maturity, magnificence
A =     Ability, Allegiance,.alertness
C =     Compromise, competence
Y =     Yearning for mission accomplished
Diplomatic Language
A diplomat is a trusted, truthful and intelligent person sent abroad as the representative of the sending state. So, a diplomat’s main mission is to keep his country safe, secure, and strong, through diplomacy. To make this mission accomplished, a diplomat must be persuasive, precise, tactful and eloquent, in addition to his so many other qualifications and talents. A diplomat should never hurt his counter-part’s feelings, let alone causing or intending to cause him to feel offended or making insulting remarks. In this sense, diplomats would like to say, “May I beg to differ from you” instead of saying “I do not agree with you.”

May I now present to you a few examples of expressions in diplomatic language as follows:
(i) When dealing with difficult or sensitive subjects or difficult or sensitive people, it is sensible to use words carefully. So, instead of expressing “this is a problem, a diplomat might say, “this could be a problem”, in order to leave open the possibility to find to a solution to the problem.
(ii)    While presenting his view as a question, not a statement, a diplomat might say “how about offering them £ 10000, instead of “we’ll offer them £10000”, in order to leave the matter for further discussion.
(iii) A diplomat might use “not” with a positive word, instead of the obvious negative word. For example, instead of saying “I don’t agree, a diplomat might say “it is not very convenient”.
(iv) Adding “I am afraid” to make clear that he recognizes the unhelpfulness of his response, a diplomat might say, for example, “That’s the most we can offer I am afraid.”
Well, my dear reader, may I hope that my article might be of some interest to you to give it a reading. Thanks a lot.
Reference: (1) Diplomatic handbook, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yangon.
(2) Legal English- Rupert Haigh.
(3) Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.
(4) The  Global   New Light of Myanmar.

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