‘Not a Guarantee of Future Performance’: The Local Grammar of Disclaimers

‘Not a Guarantee of Future Performance’: The Local Grammar of Disclaimers Abstract The study extends the concept of local grammar to the study of disclaimers in company reports. It also outlines and illustrates an analytical procedure to provide a means of interpreting the local grammar of specific language use. Data analysis has identified 18 functional categories and 13 lexico-grammatical patterns in the disclaimers examined. Functional category labels, including ‘creator of disclaimer’, ‘claim carrier’, ‘risks’, ‘nature of thing denied’, and ‘restriction on dependence/use’, were created to directly reflect the discourse functions of the language elements. Based on frequency, the study identifies the canonical pattern, together with its variants, of the local grammar, representing the prototype of the linguistic elements, of the disclaimers. The study contributes to the research of local grammars, affirming the view of previous studies that adopting a local grammar approach, compared with a general grammar, makes analyses of texts of specific language use more simple, precise and useful. INTRODUCTION A local grammar, compared with a general grammar, is seen as a better way to describe language use, as it describes ‘the resources for only one set of meanings in a language, rather than for the language as a whole’ (Hunston 2002: 90). When a local grammar is employed in language description, it is not necessary ‘to squeeze the description into ill-adapted general categories but uses a categorisation and terminology that is developed specifically for each area’, the specificity of which is characterized by ‘accuracy, transparency, and cumulative coverage’ (Hunston and Sinclair 2000: 74). The study of the local grammar of ‘a subset of normal language, the sublanguage’ (Barnbrook 2002: 94) has examined various types of language use and communicative functions, including expressions of time (Gross 1993), evaluation (Hunston and Sinclair 2000; Bednarek 2007), sameness and difference (Hunston 2002), cause and effect (Allen 2006), emotion (Bednarek 2008), and proper names (Nam and Choi 1997). This study extends the concept of local grammar to the study of a discourse, specifically disclaimers in the professional genre of company interim and annual reports. Disclaimers have long been used by accounting, corporate communications, and public relations professionals to disclaim legal liability for the disclosure of information in a range of written business discourses, including corporate annual reports (Bhatia 2010), corporate press releases (McLaren-Hankin 2008), and company audit reports (Flowerdew and Wan 2010). Disclaimers have been examined by researches in discourse analysis, pragmatics, and social psychology (McLaren-Hankin 2008; Bhatia 2010; Tayebi and Parvaresh 2014); nevertheless, no research has been conducted on the lexis and grammar of each part of the disclaimer text along with the corresponding semantic meaning and discourse functions. This study, representing a further contribution to research on local grammar and professional discourse, aims to identify the local grammar of disclaimers in interim and annual reports of companies listed in Hong Kong, with a view to describing how meaning making is achieved at the levels of semantics, lexico-grammar, and discourse functions. It also outlines and exemplifies a procedure for analysing the local grammar of the language use in a specific discourse type. Based on frequency, the study identifies the canonical pattern, with all of its variants, of the local grammar of disclaimers examined, followed by determining the extent to which the variants adhere to the canonical pattern with regard to both lexico-grammar and discourse functions; in other words, the degree of turbulence exhibited by the variants benchmarked against the canonical pattern (Cheng et al. 2009). The purpose is to identify the most prototypical, explicit, comprehensive, and unambiguous presentation of the linguistic elements of disclaimers, which will have important implications for an informed understanding of the usage of legal statements of disclaimers in business and professional communication. In the following, the article provides a literature review of research studies on disclaimers and local grammar, followed by a description of the data examined and the analytical procedure for interpreting the local grammar of disclaimers, illustrated by examples of disclaimer text. The findings of the study are organized into functional categories, patterns of local grammar (lexico-grammar and discourse functions), linguistic realizations of the canonical form and its variant forms, and the canonical functional categories. All the findings are illustrated with tabulated analyses and examples of disclaimer texts. The article ends with conclusions and implications. DISCLAIMERS Disclaimers are often found in spoken and written discourse in social and professional and organizational contexts to disclaim legal responsibilities. In conversations, for instance, disclaimers, such as ‘I’m no expert, of course, but’, are used by speakers to avoid potential trouble (Hewitt and Stokes 1975: 4), while on web pages, they disclaim different kinds of legal responsibilities. In business contexts, a ‘disclaimer’ is defined in terms of syntax, physical context, and function, namely a ‘clause and statement in a document that tries to prevent creation of a warranty or contract’ (Business Dictionary.com 2015). From a legal standpoint, a disclaimer refers to ‘the denial, refusal, or rejection of a right, power, or responsibility’, and ‘a defensive measure, used generally with the purpose of protection from unwanted claims or liability’ (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law 2008). In finance services, a disclaimer is ‘a note attached to a publicly distributed document with the aim of limiting the originator’s liability for its accuracy, content or quality’ (Moles and Terry 2005). Disclaimers have been examined in a variety of business and media texts and discourses. McLaren-Hankin (2008), for instance, examined hedging in forward-looking statements in corporate press releases and found that by incorporating a disclaimer in the press release, companies listed on the US stock exchange and the UK stock exchange explicitly convey uncertainties in their future business developments and succeed in preventing themselves from being held responsible for their claims about the future which may not materialize. Flowerdew and Wan (2010: 86) analysed company audit reports and found that DISCLAIMER OF OPINION is used in two situations: ‘when the auditor is unable to complete the audit for whatever reason and is therefore not willing to give an opinion’, and when some auditors wish to limit their legal responsibilities for their auditing work. In his research on interdiscursivity in professional communication, Bhatia (2010: 38) examined ‘corporate disclosure practices through corporate disclosure genres’, one of which being corporate annual reports. His study of the corporate annual reports of 15 Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed companies identified at least four different kinds of discourses, namely accounting discourse, discourse of economics, public relations discourse, and legal discourse, which ‘are cleverly exploited to “bend” the norms and conventions of “reporting” to promote a positive image of the company’ (p. 39) and to boost investor confidence in the company, ‘even in adverse and challenging economic circumstances’ (p. 39). Companies are found to ‘guard against any possible (intended or unintended) overestimations, unsupported predictions, or speculative statements’ (p. 44) in the public relations discourse and discourse of economics through a legal disclaimer. Legal discourse, found to form ‘a major part of disclaimers’, is necessary for comprehending ‘the full implications of the information disclosed in the report’ (p. 39). Bhatia (2010) describes possible consequences of overlooking the disclaimers in the corporate annual reports: If readers, especially minority shareholders, are unaware of the content of such disclaimers and tend to read the predictions, projections, and other speculative claims made through the annual report without disclosing the detailed investment risks, they can be and often are shocked by the corporate results in succeeding years. (Bhatia 2010: 45) LOCAL GRAMMAR The first study of local grammar (Gross 1993) examined the limited features shared among synonymous idiomatic expressions and phrases referring to time (e.g. on May 2nd, on Tuesday May the 2nd, on Tuesday the 2nd of May). Examining the Bank of English at COBUILD, Hunston and Sinclair (2000: 89) described a local grammar of evaluation that is made up of a limited number of elements. Examples are ‘he (evaluator) is (hinge) adamant (evaluating response) that he does not want to enter politics (thing evaluated)’ and ‘they (evaluation carrier) were (hinge) lucky (evaluative category) that we scored when we did (thing evaluated)’. Bednarek (2007) compared British English broadsheets and tabloid newspapers and identified eight patterns of evaluative adjectives, including most of the patterns in Hunston and Sinclair (2000), some new realizations of those patterns, as well as new patterns. In another study, Hunston (2002: 90–1) described a local grammar of sameness and difference, by identifying the words that indicate these meanings (e.g. ‘equate’, ‘match’, ‘contrast’, ‘differentiate’) and the patterns in which they are used (e.g. verb + plural noun group as in ‘equate two things’, verb + between + plural noun group as in ‘differentiate between two things’), then identifying elements in the local grammar, such as ‘comparer’, ‘comparison’, ‘item 1’, and ‘item 2’, and lastly mapping these elements onto the patterns. The local grammar of a particular language use can be employed to automatically retrieve all such instances of language use from a corpus. Barnbrook and Sinclair (2001), for instance, showed how a computer program based on the features of the local grammar can be used to search for definitions in corpora that comprised non-dictionary texts, arguing that the structures used in dictionary definitions are in fact not specific to dictionaries but are frequently used for definitions generally. In Barnbrook’s (2002) study of a local grammar of definition sentences, the functional components of the sentences were extracted by parsing software. Inspired by the previous research outlined above, the present study adopted a local grammar approach to examine a specific discourse in finance services. METHOD OF STUDY Data The data examined in this study were 50 interim reports and 50 annual reports (N = 100) from the websites of 50 companies, which were constituents of the Hang Seng Index, ‘the most widely quoted gauge of the Hong Kong stock market, including the largest and most liquid stocks listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong’ (Hang Seng Indexes Company Limited 2014). The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (2014b) operates two markets for companies to list their shares: the Main Board and the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM). Main Board and GEM issuers are obliged to disclose financial information by publishing annual, half-yearly (interim), and quarterly reports (for GEM issuers only) within a certain period after the financial period has ended (Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited 2014a). The listed companies are also required to make their reports and financial statements accessible to the public on the website of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, the GEM website, and the listed companies’ websites. Listed company websites usually include a section called ‘Investor relations’, along with a wide range of other documents of the companies. Data collection involved locating the most recent interim and annual reports at the time of the research (April 2014) from the websites of the 50 companies. Data analysis procedure Data analysis was conducted manually in five steps. First, each of the company reports was read to identify instances of legal statements of disclaimers. It was found that sections of disclaimers had been incorporated into 33 reports (16 interim and 17 annual reports) from 19 companies, with both interim and annual reports from 14 companies, interim reports from 2, and annual reports from 3 companies. Disclaimer sections were not available in the reports of the other 31 companies. Disclaimers were placed either before or after the main contents of the report, with 17 (51.5 per cent) of them placed underneath a heading with ‘forward-looking statements’ (e.g. ‘Forward-Looking Statements’, ‘Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements’, and ‘Past Performance and Forward-Looking Statements’) and 4 (12.1 per cent) with ‘risk’ (e.g. ‘IMPORTANT RISK REMINDER’ and ‘Material Risk Alert’). The word ‘disclaimer’ was found in only one (3 per cent) heading. The remaining 33.4 per cent of the sections of disclaimers were embedded in the reports without a specific heading. In most of the 33 reports, there was more than one instance of disclaimers in the forward-looking statements, risk, or disclaimer section. The following shows the two-paragraph ‘Cautionary Statements Regarding Forward-Looking Statements’ section in an annual report. Five instances of disclaimers were identified. They are underlined and numbered, for illustration: (Company 18-Annual Report) Cautionary Statements Regarding Forward-Looking Statements To the extent any statements made in this report contains information that is not historical are essentially forward-looking. These forward-looking statements include but are not limited to projections, targets, estimates and business plans that the Company expects or anticipates will or may occur in the future. (1) These forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may be general or specific. Certain statements, such as those include the words or phrases “potential”, “estimates”, “expects”, “anticipates”, “objective”, “intends”, “plans”, “believes”, “will”, “may”, “should”, and similar expressions or variations on such expressions may be considered forward-looking statements. (2) Readers should be cautioned that a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations and results of the Company, and could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations expressed in any of the Company’s forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, exchange rate fluctuations, market shares, competition, environmental risks, changes in legal, financial and regulatory frameworks, international economic and financial market conditions and other risks and factors beyond our control. These and other factors should be considered carefully and (3) readers should not place undue reliance on the Company’s forward-looking statements. (4) In addition, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement that is contained in this report as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. (5) None of the Company, or any of its employees or affiliates is responsible for, or is making, any representations concerning the future performance of the Company. The second step involved identifying the linguistic elements in the disclaiming clauses which indicate meanings associated with disclaiming and the patterns in which the meanings are used. The third step involved assigning transparent category labels (Bednarek 2007) to various discourse functions in the disclaimer text. Fourth, the functional categories were mapped onto the language (lexis and grammar) patterns. Lastly, all the patterns were examined to identify a canonical pattern, which was then used as the benchmark against which all other patterns were compared. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION A total of 101 instances of disclaimers were identified from the 33 company interim and annual reports. The following discusses the findings with regard to functional categories (Table 1) and patterns of local grammar (lexico-grammar and discourse functions) (Tables 2–19), followed by a discussion of the linguistic realizations of the canonical form (Table 20) and its variant forms (Tables 21–23). Lastly, the canonical functional categories are discussed (Tables 24 and 25). Table 1: Functional categories and discourse functions Functional category Discourse function 1 Addressee The target readers of the company interim and annual report 2 Authority/regulation The authorities and regulations which control the contents of the report 3 Claim carrier The information which describes the claim of a company 4 Creator of disclaimer The writer of the report, i.e. the company 5 Degree of … (i) Dependence (ii) Warning The extent to which (i) dependence or (ii) warning is expressed in the report 6 Dependence The target readers’ dependence on the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 7 Factors affecting claim The factors which may affect the claim of a company 8 Hinge A connection between two functional elements of a pattern 9 Nature of … (i) Claim (ii) Claim carrier (iii) Factors (iv) Performance (v) Risks (vi) Thing denied The quality of: (i) The claim of a company (ii) The information which describes the claim of a company (iii) The factors which may affect the claim of a company (iv) The performance of the company (v) The risks which may be involved in investment (vi) The thing which is disclaimed by a company 10 Opinion The ideas or beliefs of a company which are expressed in the report 11 Performance The performance of the company 12 Report The company interim or annual report 13 Restriction on … (i) Denial (ii) Dependence (iii) Opinion (iv) Use The things which are related to: (i) The disclaimer which is made by a company (ii) The target readers’ dependence of the information conveyed in forward-looking statements (iii) The ideas or beliefs of a company (iv) The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 14 Risks The risks which may be involved in investment 15 Situation The situation in which the accuracy of information disclosed in the report may not be valid 16 Thing denied The thing which a company disclaims, i.e. the legal responsibilities in the context of a particular disclaimer 17 Understanding of risks The target readers’ understanding of the risks which may be involved in investment 18 Use The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements Functional category Discourse function 1 Addressee The target readers of the company interim and annual report 2 Authority/regulation The authorities and regulations which control the contents of the report 3 Claim carrier The information which describes the claim of a company 4 Creator of disclaimer The writer of the report, i.e. the company 5 Degree of … (i) Dependence (ii) Warning The extent to which (i) dependence or (ii) warning is expressed in the report 6 Dependence The target readers’ dependence on the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 7 Factors affecting claim The factors which may affect the claim of a company 8 Hinge A connection between two functional elements of a pattern 9 Nature of … (i) Claim (ii) Claim carrier (iii) Factors (iv) Performance (v) Risks (vi) Thing denied The quality of: (i) The claim of a company (ii) The information which describes the claim of a company (iii) The factors which may affect the claim of a company (iv) The performance of the company (v) The risks which may be involved in investment (vi) The thing which is disclaimed by a company 10 Opinion The ideas or beliefs of a company which are expressed in the report 11 Performance The performance of the company 12 Report The company interim or annual report 13 Restriction on … (i) Denial (ii) Dependence (iii) Opinion (iv) Use The things which are related to: (i) The disclaimer which is made by a company (ii) The target readers’ dependence of the information conveyed in forward-looking statements (iii) The ideas or beliefs of a company (iv) The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 14 Risks The risks which may be involved in investment 15 Situation The situation in which the accuracy of information disclosed in the report may not be valid 16 Thing denied The thing which a company disclaims, i.e. the legal responsibilities in the context of a particular disclaimer 17 Understanding of risks The target readers’ understanding of the risks which may be involved in investment 18 Use The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements Table 1: Functional categories and discourse functions Functional category Discourse function 1 Addressee The target readers of the company interim and annual report 2 Authority/regulation The authorities and regulations which control the contents of the report 3 Claim carrier The information which describes the claim of a company 4 Creator of disclaimer The writer of the report, i.e. the company 5 Degree of … (i) Dependence (ii) Warning The extent to which (i) dependence or (ii) warning is expressed in the report 6 Dependence The target readers’ dependence on the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 7 Factors affecting claim The factors which may affect the claim of a company 8 Hinge A connection between two functional elements of a pattern 9 Nature of … (i) Claim (ii) Claim carrier (iii) Factors (iv) Performance (v) Risks (vi) Thing denied The quality of: (i) The claim of a company (ii) The information which describes the claim of a company (iii) The factors which may affect the claim of a company (iv) The performance of the company (v) The risks which may be involved in investment (vi) The thing which is disclaimed by a company 10 Opinion The ideas or beliefs of a company which are expressed in the report 11 Performance The performance of the company 12 Report The company interim or annual report 13 Restriction on … (i) Denial (ii) Dependence (iii) Opinion (iv) Use The things which are related to: (i) The disclaimer which is made by a company (ii) The target readers’ dependence of the information conveyed in forward-looking statements (iii) The ideas or beliefs of a company (iv) The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 14 Risks The risks which may be involved in investment 15 Situation The situation in which the accuracy of information disclosed in the report may not be valid 16 Thing denied The thing which a company disclaims, i.e. the legal responsibilities in the context of a particular disclaimer 17 Understanding of risks The target readers’ understanding of the risks which may be involved in investment 18 Use The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements Functional category Discourse function 1 Addressee The target readers of the company interim and annual report 2 Authority/regulation The authorities and regulations which control the contents of the report 3 Claim carrier The information which describes the claim of a company 4 Creator of disclaimer The writer of the report, i.e. the company 5 Degree of … (i) Dependence (ii) Warning The extent to which (i) dependence or (ii) warning is expressed in the report 6 Dependence The target readers’ dependence on the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 7 Factors affecting claim The factors which may affect the claim of a company 8 Hinge A connection between two functional elements of a pattern 9 Nature of … (i) Claim (ii) Claim carrier (iii) Factors (iv) Performance (v) Risks (vi) Thing denied The quality of: (i) The claim of a company (ii) The information which describes the claim of a company (iii) The factors which may affect the claim of a company (iv) The performance of the company (v) The risks which may be involved in investment (vi) The thing which is disclaimed by a company 10 Opinion The ideas or beliefs of a company which are expressed in the report 11 Performance The performance of the company 12 Report The company interim or annual report 13 Restriction on … (i) Denial (ii) Dependence (iii) Opinion (iv) Use The things which are related to: (i) The disclaimer which is made by a company (ii) The target readers’ dependence of the information conveyed in forward-looking statements (iii) The ideas or beliefs of a company (iv) The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 14 Risks The risks which may be involved in investment 15 Situation The situation in which the accuracy of information disclosed in the report may not be valid 16 Thing denied The thing which a company disclaims, i.e. the legal responsibilities in the context of a particular disclaimer 17 Understanding of risks The target readers’ understanding of the risks which may be involved in investment 18 Use The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements Table 2: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 1a Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause Conjunction Determiner Noun clause Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees or agents of the Group assume (a) any Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) any liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turns out to be incorrect. 1 05-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Interim Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-IR Total 3 Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause Conjunction Determiner Noun clause Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees or agents of the Group assume (a) any Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) any liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turns out to be incorrect. 1 05-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Interim Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-IR Total 3 Table 2: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 1a Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause Conjunction Determiner Noun clause Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees or agents of the Group assume (a) any Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) any liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turns out to be incorrect. 1 05-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Interim Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-IR Total 3 Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause Conjunction Determiner Noun clause Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees or agents of the Group assume (a) any Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) any liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turns out to be incorrect. 1 05-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Interim Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-IR Total 3 Table 3: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 1b Hinge Authority/ Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Situation Frequency Conjunction Verb Prepositional phrase Idiom Noun/noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause(s) Prepositional phrase/adverb group (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) HSBC makes no commitment to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring or existing after the date of any forward-looking statements. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) In addition, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement that is contained in this report as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. 2 18-AR, 18-IR (Clause)… unless required by regulatory authorities, (N/A) the Company undertakes no obligation to update these statements. (N/A) 2 19-AR, 19-IR Total 6 Hinge Authority/ Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Situation Frequency Conjunction Verb Prepositional phrase Idiom Noun/noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause(s) Prepositional phrase/adverb group (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) HSBC makes no commitment to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring or existing after the date of any forward-looking statements. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) In addition, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement that is contained in this report as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. 2 18-AR, 18-IR (Clause)… unless required by regulatory authorities, (N/A) the Company undertakes no obligation to update these statements. (N/A) 2 19-AR, 19-IR Total 6 Table 3: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 1b Hinge Authority/ Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Situation Frequency Conjunction Verb Prepositional phrase Idiom Noun/noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause(s) Prepositional phrase/adverb group (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) HSBC makes no commitment to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring or existing after the date of any forward-looking statements. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) In addition, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement that is contained in this report as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. 2 18-AR, 18-IR (Clause)… unless required by regulatory authorities, (N/A) the Company undertakes no obligation to update these statements. (N/A) 2 19-AR, 19-IR Total 6 Hinge Authority/ Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Situation Frequency Conjunction Verb Prepositional phrase Idiom Noun/noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause(s) Prepositional phrase/adverb group (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) HSBC makes no commitment to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring or existing after the date of any forward-looking statements. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) In addition, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement that is contained in this report as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. 2 18-AR, 18-IR (Clause)… unless required by regulatory authorities, (N/A) the Company undertakes no obligation to update these statements. (N/A) 2 19-AR, 19-IR Total 6 Table 4: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 2 Claim carrier Hinge Opinion Restriction on opinion Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb group Noun group Verb Noun group Prepositional phrase Adjective Noun Conjunction Verb Adverb Noun group (N/A) These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 01-AR, 01-IR In addition, these forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 09-AR, 09-IR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 17-AR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Opinion Restriction on opinion Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb group Noun group Verb Noun group Prepositional phrase Adjective Noun Conjunction Verb Adverb Noun group (N/A) These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 01-AR, 01-IR In addition, these forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 09-AR, 09-IR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 17-AR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 6 Table 4: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 2 Claim carrier Hinge Opinion Restriction on opinion Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb group Noun group Verb Noun group Prepositional phrase Adjective Noun Conjunction Verb Adverb Noun group (N/A) These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 01-AR, 01-IR In addition, these forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 09-AR, 09-IR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 17-AR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Opinion Restriction on opinion Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb group Noun group Verb Noun group Prepositional phrase Adjective Noun Conjunction Verb Adverb Noun group (N/A) These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 01-AR, 01-IR In addition, these forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 09-AR, 09-IR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 17-AR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 6 Table 5: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 3 Nature of claim Claim carrier Nature of claim carrier Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Frequency Conjunction Determiner Adjective Noun/noun group if-clause do not Verb Adjective Noun group (Clause) … and any future plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 02-AR, 02-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 08-AR, 08-IR (N/A) The future plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 15-AR, 15-IR Total 6 Nature of claim Claim carrier Nature of claim carrier Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Frequency Conjunction Determiner Adjective Noun/noun group if-clause do not Verb Adjective Noun group (Clause) … and any future plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 02-AR, 02-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 08-AR, 08-IR (N/A) The future plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 15-AR, 15-IR Total 6 Table 5: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 3 Nature of claim Claim carrier Nature of claim carrier Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Frequency Conjunction Determiner Adjective Noun/noun group if-clause do not Verb Adjective Noun group (Clause) … and any future plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 02-AR, 02-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 08-AR, 08-IR (N/A) The future plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 15-AR, 15-IR Total 6 Nature of claim Claim carrier Nature of claim carrier Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Frequency Conjunction Determiner Adjective Noun/noun group if-clause do not Verb Adjective Noun group (Clause) … and any future plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 02-AR, 02-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 08-AR, 08-IR (N/A) The future plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 15-AR, 15-IR Total 6 Table 6: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 4 Authority/Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb Noun group Noun group does not Verb to-infinitive clause(s) Subject to the requirements of the Listing Rules, the Group does not intend to update or otherwise revise the forward-looking statements in this document, whether … (clause) 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) (N/A) The Company does not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 09-AR, 09-IR Total 4 Authority/Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb Noun group Noun group does not Verb to-infinitive clause(s) Subject to the requirements of the Listing Rules, the Group does not intend to update or otherwise revise the forward-looking statements in this document, whether … (clause) 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) (N/A) The Company does not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 09-AR, 09-IR Total 4 Table 6: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 4 Authority/Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb Noun group Noun group does not Verb to-infinitive clause(s) Subject to the requirements of the Listing Rules, the Group does not intend to update or otherwise revise the forward-looking statements in this document, whether … (clause) 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) (N/A) The Company does not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 09-AR, 09-IR Total 4 Authority/Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb Noun group Noun group does not Verb to-infinitive clause(s) Subject to the requirements of the Listing Rules, the Group does not intend to update or otherwise revise the forward-looking statements in this document, whether … (clause) 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) (N/A) The Company does not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 09-AR, 09-IR Total 4 Table 7: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 5 Performance Hinge Nature of performance Nature of performance Performance Hinge Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Prepositional phrase Conjunction Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group The performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report are historical in nature and past performance can be no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 05-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Annual Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Interim Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-IR Total 3 Performance Hinge Nature of performance Nature of performance Performance Hinge Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Prepositional phrase Conjunction Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group The performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report are historical in nature and past performance can be no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 05-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Annual Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Interim Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-IR Total 3 Table 7: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 5 Performance Hinge Nature of performance Nature of performance Performance Hinge Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Prepositional phrase Conjunction Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group The performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report are historical in nature and past performance can be no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 05-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Annual Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Interim Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-IR Total 3 Performance Hinge Nature of performance Nature of performance Performance Hinge Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Prepositional phrase Conjunction Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group The performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report are historical in nature and past performance can be no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 05-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Annual Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Interim Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-IR Total 3 Table 8: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 6 Nature of thing denied Thing denied Hinge Restriction on denial Risks Frequency Adjective/adjective group Noun/noun group Verb group Adverb Prepositional phrase Adverb group Actual results or performance may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 1 05-AR The actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-AR Actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-IR Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of factors, including … 2 09-AR, 09-IR Actual results may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 2 14-AR, 14-IR Actual results may differ (N/A) from the information contained in the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 2 17-AR, 17-IR The Company’s actual results or developments may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-AR The actual results or developments of the Company may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-IR Total 11 Nature of thing denied Thing denied Hinge Restriction on denial Risks Frequency Adjective/adjective group Noun/noun group Verb group Adverb Prepositional phrase Adverb group Actual results or performance may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 1 05-AR The actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-AR Actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-IR Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of factors, including … 2 09-AR, 09-IR Actual results may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 2 14-AR, 14-IR Actual results may differ (N/A) from the information contained in the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 2 17-AR, 17-IR The Company’s actual results or developments may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-AR The actual results or developments of the Company may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-IR Total 11 Table 8: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 6 Nature of thing denied Thing denied Hinge Restriction on denial Risks Frequency Adjective/adjective group Noun/noun group Verb group Adverb Prepositional phrase Adverb group Actual results or performance may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 1 05-AR The actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-AR Actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-IR Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of factors, including … 2 09-AR, 09-IR Actual results may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 2 14-AR, 14-IR Actual results may differ (N/A) from the information contained in the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 2 17-AR, 17-IR The Company’s actual results or developments may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-AR The actual results or developments of the Company may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-IR Total 11 Nature of thing denied Thing denied Hinge Restriction on denial Risks Frequency Adjective/adjective group Noun/noun group Verb group Adverb Prepositional phrase Adverb group Actual results or performance may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 1 05-AR The actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-AR Actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-IR Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of factors, including … 2 09-AR, 09-IR Actual results may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 2 14-AR, 14-IR Actual results may differ (N/A) from the information contained in the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 2 17-AR, 17-IR The Company’s actual results or developments may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-AR The actual results or developments of the Company may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-IR Total 11 Table 9: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 7 Addressee Hinge Degree of warning Risks Frequency Pronoun/noun Verb group Adverb Conjunction Clause You are (strongly) cautioned ‘strongly’ in the verb group that reliance on any forward-looking statements involves known and unknown risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 2 13-AR, 13-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and … Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 10 Addressee Hinge Degree of warning Risks Frequency Pronoun/noun Verb group Adverb Conjunction Clause You are (strongly) cautioned ‘strongly’ in the verb group that reliance on any forward-looking statements involves known and unknown risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 2 13-AR, 13-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and … Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 10 Table 9: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 7 Addressee Hinge Degree of warning Risks Frequency Pronoun/noun Verb group Adverb Conjunction Clause You are (strongly) cautioned ‘strongly’ in the verb group that reliance on any forward-looking statements involves known and unknown risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 2 13-AR, 13-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and … Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 10 Addressee Hinge Degree of warning Risks Frequency Pronoun/noun Verb group Adverb Conjunction Clause You are (strongly) cautioned ‘strongly’ in the verb group that reliance on any forward-looking statements involves known and unknown risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 2 13-AR, 13-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and … Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 10 Table 10: Disclaimers: Clauses of local grammar pattern 7 Risks No. of that-clauses Clause Factors affecting claim Nature of factors Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial Noun group Relative clause Verb Noun group Conjunction Verb group Adjective Noun to-infinitive clause Prepositional phrase Adverb Prepositional phrase A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 4 04-AR, 04-IR, 13-AR, 13-IR A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results To differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR A variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and could cause actual results To differ (N/A) materially from the expectations expressed in any of the Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 8 Risks No. of that-clauses Clause Factors affecting claim Nature of factors Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial Noun group Relative clause Verb Noun group Conjunction Verb group Adjective Noun to-infinitive clause Prepositional phrase Adverb Prepositional phrase A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 4 04-AR, 04-IR, 13-AR, 13-IR A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results To differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR A variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and could cause actual results To differ (N/A) materially from the expectations expressed in any of the Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 8 Table 10: Disclaimers: Clauses of local grammar pattern 7 Risks No. of that-clauses Clause Factors affecting claim Nature of factors Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial Noun group Relative clause Verb Noun group Conjunction Verb group Adjective Noun to-infinitive clause Prepositional phrase Adverb Prepositional phrase A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 4 04-AR, 04-IR, 13-AR, 13-IR A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results To differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR A variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and could cause actual results To differ (N/A) materially from the expectations expressed in any of the Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 8 Risks No. of that-clauses Clause Factors affecting claim Nature of factors Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial Noun group Relative clause Verb Noun group Conjunction Verb group Adjective Noun to-infinitive clause Prepositional phrase Adverb Prepositional phrase A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 4 04-AR, 04-IR, 13-AR, 13-IR A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results To differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR A variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and could cause actual results To differ (N/A) materially from the expectations expressed in any of the Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 8 Table 11: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 8a Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase Such forward- looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, which may cause the actual performance, financial condition, or results of operations of the Company to be materially different ‘materially’ in the to-infinitive clause from any future performance, financial condition, or results of operations implied by such forward- looking statements. 1 07-IR (Clause beginning with these forward- looking statements) … and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainies that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Total 3 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase Such forward- looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, which may cause the actual performance, financial condition, or results of operations of the Company to be materially different ‘materially’ in the to-infinitive clause from any future performance, financial condition, or results of operations implied by such forward- looking statements. 1 07-IR (Clause beginning with these forward- looking statements) … and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainies that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Total 3 Table 11: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 8a Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase Such forward- looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, which may cause the actual performance, financial condition, or results of operations of the Company to be materially different ‘materially’ in the to-infinitive clause from any future performance, financial condition, or results of operations implied by such forward- looking statements. 1 07-IR (Clause beginning with these forward- looking statements) … and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainies that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Total 3 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase Such forward- looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, which may cause the actual performance, financial condition, or results of operations of the Company to be materially different ‘materially’ in the to-infinitive clause from any future performance, financial condition, or results of operations implied by such forward- looking statements. 1 07-IR (Clause beginning with these forward- looking statements) … and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainies that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Total 3 Table 12: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 8b Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun/ noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase (Clause beginning with they referring to these forward- looking statements) … and are subject to (N/A) a number of factors and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially (N/A) 2 02-AR, 02-IR These forward- looking statements are subject to (N/A) risks, uncertainties, and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward- looking statements. 2 12-AR, 12-IR Hinge Nature of risks that verb group adjective group These forward- looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may be general or specific 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun/ noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase (Clause beginning with they referring to these forward- looking statements) … and are subject to (N/A) a number of factors and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially (N/A) 2 02-AR, 02-IR These forward- looking statements are subject to (N/A) risks, uncertainties, and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward- looking statements. 2 12-AR, 12-IR Hinge Nature of risks that verb group adjective group These forward- looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may be general or specific 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Table 12: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 8b Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun/ noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase (Clause beginning with they referring to these forward- looking statements) … and are subject to (N/A) a number of factors and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially (N/A) 2 02-AR, 02-IR These forward- looking statements are subject to (N/A) risks, uncertainties, and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward- looking statements. 2 12-AR, 12-IR Hinge Nature of risks that verb group adjective group These forward- looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may be general or specific 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun/ noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase (Clause beginning with they referring to these forward- looking statements) … and are subject to (N/A) a number of factors and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially (N/A) 2 02-AR, 02-IR These forward- looking statements are subject to (N/A) risks, uncertainties, and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward- looking statements. 2 12-AR, 12-IR Hinge Nature of risks that verb group adjective group These forward- looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may be general or specific 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Table 13: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 9 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective Noun group Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (Clause beginning with any forward-looking statements and opinions)… and therefore involve (N/A) risks and uncertainties. 2 14-AR, 14-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective Noun group Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (Clause beginning with any forward-looking statements and opinions)… and therefore involve (N/A) risks and uncertainties. 2 14-AR, 14-IR Total 6 Table 13: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 9 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective Noun group Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (Clause beginning with any forward-looking statements and opinions)… and therefore involve (N/A) risks and uncertainties. 2 14-AR, 14-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective Noun group Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (Clause beginning with any forward-looking statements and opinions)… and therefore involve (N/A) risks and uncertainties. 2 14-AR, 14-IR Total 6 Table 14: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 10a Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Prepositional phrase Investors should be aware of the investment risks. 2 02-AR, 02-IR Investors shall be aware of the risks relating to investments. 1 17-IR Total 3 Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Prepositional phrase Investors should be aware of the investment risks. 2 02-AR, 02-IR Investors shall be aware of the risks relating to investments. 1 17-IR Total 3 Table 14: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 10a Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Prepositional phrase Investors should be aware of the investment risks. 2 02-AR, 02-IR Investors shall be aware of the risks relating to investments. 1 17-IR Total 3 Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Prepositional phrase Investors should be aware of the investment risks. 2 02-AR, 02-IR Investors shall be aware of the risks relating to investments. 1 17-IR Total 3 Table 15: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 10b Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Relative clause Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Use Restriction on use Hinge Risks 2 that Adjective Noun Preposition Conjunction Noun Prepositional phrase Verb group Noun group Investors should be aware that undue reliance on or use of such information may lead to risks of investment. 08-AR, 08-IR Total 2 Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Relative clause Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Use Restriction on use Hinge Risks 2 that Adjective Noun Preposition Conjunction Noun Prepositional phrase Verb group Noun group Investors should be aware that undue reliance on or use of such information may lead to risks of investment. 08-AR, 08-IR Total 2 Table 15: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 10b Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Relative clause Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Use Restriction on use Hinge Risks 2 that Adjective Noun Preposition Conjunction Noun Prepositional phrase Verb group Noun group Investors should be aware that undue reliance on or use of such information may lead to risks of investment. 08-AR, 08-IR Total 2 Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Relative clause Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Use Restriction on use Hinge Risks 2 that Adjective Noun Preposition Conjunction Noun Prepositional phrase Verb group Noun group Investors should be aware that undue reliance on or use of such information may lead to risks of investment. 08-AR, 08-IR Total 2 Table 16: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 11 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of claim carrier Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Prepositional phrase Adjective Adjective Noun group These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR These forward-looking statements are, by their names, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-AR These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 4 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of claim carrier Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Prepositional phrase Adjective Adjective Noun group These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR These forward-looking statements are, by their names, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-AR These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 4 Table 16: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 11 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of claim carrier Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Prepositional phrase Adjective Adjective Noun group These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR These forward-looking statements are, by their names, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-AR These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 4 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of claim carrier Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Prepositional phrase Adjective Adjective Noun group These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR These forward-looking statements are, by their names, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-AR These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 4 Table 17: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 12 Report Hinge Nature of claim Claim carrier Frequency Noun group and existential there Verb/verb group Adjective Noun group Relative clause Hinge Risks that/which Verb Noun group This Annual Report may contain (N/A) forward-looking statements and opinions that involve risks and uncertainties. 1 05-AR Hinge Risks verb adjective noun group There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-AR There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-IR Total 3 Report Hinge Nature of claim Claim carrier Frequency Noun group and existential there Verb/verb group Adjective Noun group Relative clause Hinge Risks that/which Verb Noun group This Annual Report may contain (N/A) forward-looking statements and opinions that involve risks and uncertainties. 1 05-AR Hinge Risks verb adjective noun group There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-AR There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-IR Total 3 Table 17: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 12 Report Hinge Nature of claim Claim carrier Frequency Noun group and existential there Verb/verb group Adjective Noun group Relative clause Hinge Risks that/which Verb Noun group This Annual Report may contain (N/A) forward-looking statements and opinions that involve risks and uncertainties. 1 05-AR Hinge Risks verb adjective noun group There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-AR There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-IR Total 3 Report Hinge Nature of claim Claim carrier Frequency Noun group and existential there Verb/verb group Adjective Noun group Relative clause Hinge Risks that/which Verb Noun group This Annual Report may contain (N/A) forward-looking statements and opinions that involve risks and uncertainties. 1 05-AR Hinge Risks verb adjective noun group There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-AR There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-IR Total 3 Table 18: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 13a Addressee Hinge Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Adverb/ conjunction Pronoun/ noun Verb group Adverb Adjective Noun Prepositional phrase Accordingly, you should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on any forward-looking information or statements. 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 02-AR, 02-IR (Clause)… and readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on the Company’s forward- looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Addressee Hinge Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Adverb/ conjunction Pronoun/ noun Verb group Adverb Adjective Noun Prepositional phrase Accordingly, you should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on any forward-looking information or statements. 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 02-AR, 02-IR (Clause)… and readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on the Company’s forward- looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Table 18: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 13a Addressee Hinge Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Adverb/ conjunction Pronoun/ noun Verb group Adverb Adjective Noun Prepositional phrase Accordingly, you should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on any forward-looking information or statements. 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 02-AR, 02-IR (Clause)… and readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on the Company’s forward- looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Addressee Hinge Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Adverb/ conjunction Pronoun/ noun Verb group Adverb Adjective Noun Prepositional phrase Accordingly, you should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on any forward-looking information or statements. 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 02-AR, 02-IR (Clause)… and readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on the Company’s forward- looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Table 19: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 13b Addressee Hinge Dependence Degree of dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Conjunction Pronoun Verb group Adverb to-infinitive clause Adjective Prepositional phrase (Clause)… and You are cautioned not to place (undue) reliance ‘undue’ in the to-infinitive clause on such statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Total 2 Addressee Hinge Dependence Degree of dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Conjunction Pronoun Verb group Adverb to-infinitive clause Adjective Prepositional phrase (Clause)… and You are cautioned not to place (undue) reliance ‘undue’ in the to-infinitive clause on such statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Total 2 Table 19: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 13b Addressee Hinge Dependence Degree of dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Conjunction Pronoun Verb group Adverb to-infinitive clause Adjective Prepositional phrase (Clause)… and You are cautioned not to place (undue) reliance ‘undue’ in the to-infinitive clause on such statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Total 2 Addressee Hinge Dependence Degree of dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Conjunction Pronoun Verb group Adverb to-infinitive clause Adjective Prepositional phrase (Clause)… and You are cautioned not to place (undue) reliance ‘undue’ in the to-infinitive clause on such statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Total 2 Table 20: Realizations of the canonical form Pattern Pronoun/noun/noun group Verb/verb group Determiner/adverb Adjective Noun Frequency Pattern 1a Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees, or agents of the Group assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 The Group, the Directors, employees, and agents of the Group assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b HSBC makes no (N/A) commitment 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 13a You should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Total 15 Pattern Pronoun/noun/noun group Verb/verb group Determiner/adverb Adjective Noun Frequency Pattern 1a Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees, or agents of the Group assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 The Group, the Directors, employees, and agents of the Group assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b HSBC makes no (N/A) commitment 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 13a You should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Total 15 Table 20: Realizations of the canonical form Pattern Pronoun/noun/noun group Verb/verb group Determiner/adverb Adjective Noun Frequency Pattern 1a Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees, or agents of the Group assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 The Group, the Directors, employees, and agents of the Group assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b HSBC makes no (N/A) commitment 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 13a You should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Total 15 Pattern Pronoun/noun/noun group Verb/verb group Determiner/adverb Adjective Noun Frequency Pattern 1a Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees, or agents of the Group assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 The Group, the Directors, employees, and agents of the Group assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b HSBC makes no (N/A) commitment 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 13a You should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Total 15 Table 21: Realizations of the variant ‘noun group + verb + adverb + noun group’ of Pattern 2 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) Verb Adverb Noun group Frequency Pattern 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 Total 6 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) Verb Adverb Noun group Frequency Pattern 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 Total 6 Table 21: Realizations of the variant ‘noun group + verb + adverb + noun group’ of Pattern 2 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) Verb Adverb Noun group Frequency Pattern 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 Total 6 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) Verb Adverb Noun group Frequency Pattern 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 Total 6 Table 22: Realizations of the variant ‘noun group + do not + verb + (adjective) + noun group’ of Pattern 3 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) do not Verb Adjective Noun group Frequency Pattern 3 Plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 Plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Total 6 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) do not Verb Adjective Noun group Frequency Pattern 3 Plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 Plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Total 6 Table 22: Realizations of the variant ‘noun group + do not + verb + (adjective) + noun group’ of Pattern 3 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) do not Verb Adjective Noun group Frequency Pattern 3 Plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 Plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Total 6 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) do not Verb Adjective Noun group Frequency Pattern 3 Plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 Plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Total 6 Table 23: Realizations of the variant ‘adjective + noun + verb/verb group + determiner + noun group’ of Pattern 5 Pattern Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group Frequency Pattern 5 Past performance can be no guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 Past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 3 Pattern Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group Frequency Pattern 5 Past performance can be no guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 Past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 3 Table 23: Realizations of the variant ‘adjective + noun + verb/verb group + determiner + noun group’ of Pattern 5 Pattern Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group Frequency Pattern 5 Past performance can be no guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 Past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 3 Pattern Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group Frequency Pattern 5 Past performance can be no guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 Past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 3 Table 24: Realizations of canonical functional categories in Patterns 1, 2, 3, and 5 Pattern Hinge Determiner/adverb Intervening word Thing denied Frequency Pattern 1a verb any/no (N/A) noun assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 (N = 3) assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b verb no (N/A) noun makes no (N/A) commitment 2 (N = 6) undertakes no (N/A) obligation 4 Pattern 2 verb not (N/A) noun group (N = 6) are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance. 2 Pattern 3 do not verb not adjective noun group (N = 6) do not constitute ‘not’ in do not (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not actual commitments to investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Pattern 5 verb/verb group no (N/A) Noun group (N = 3) can be no (N/A) guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 is no (N/A) guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 24 Pattern Hinge Determiner/adverb Intervening word Thing denied Frequency Pattern 1a verb any/no (N/A) noun assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 (N = 3) assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b verb no (N/A) noun makes no (N/A) commitment 2 (N = 6) undertakes no (N/A) obligation 4 Pattern 2 verb not (N/A) noun group (N = 6) are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance. 2 Pattern 3 do not verb not adjective noun group (N = 6) do not constitute ‘not’ in do not (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not actual commitments to investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Pattern 5 verb/verb group no (N/A) Noun group (N = 3) can be no (N/A) guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 is no (N/A) guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 24 Table 24: Realizations of canonical functional categories in Patterns 1, 2, 3, and 5 Pattern Hinge Determiner/adverb Intervening word Thing denied Frequency Pattern 1a verb any/no (N/A) noun assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 (N = 3) assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b verb no (N/A) noun makes no (N/A) commitment 2 (N = 6) undertakes no (N/A) obligation 4 Pattern 2 verb not (N/A) noun group (N = 6) are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance. 2 Pattern 3 do not verb not adjective noun group (N = 6) do not constitute ‘not’ in do not (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not actual commitments to investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Pattern 5 verb/verb group no (N/A) Noun group (N = 3) can be no (N/A) guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 is no (N/A) guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 24 Pattern Hinge Determiner/adverb Intervening word Thing denied Frequency Pattern 1a verb any/no (N/A) noun assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 (N = 3) assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b verb no (N/A) noun makes no (N/A) commitment 2 (N = 6) undertakes no (N/A) obligation 4 Pattern 2 verb not (N/A) noun group (N = 6) are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance. 2 Pattern 3 do not verb not adjective noun group (N = 6) do not constitute ‘not’ in do not (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not actual commitments to investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Pattern 5 verb/verb group no (N/A) Noun group (N = 3) can be no (N/A) guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 is no (N/A) guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 24 Table 25: Realizations of the ‘hinge’ in all patterns Realizations of ‘hinge’ Frequency are 15 could cause 10 are cautioned 6 do (not) + constitute 6 reflect 6 does (not) + intend 4 involve 4 should be cautioned 4 undertakes 4 assume 3 affect 2 is 2 makes 2 required 2 can be 1 may cause 1 Total 72 Realizations of ‘hinge’ Frequency are 15 could cause 10 are cautioned 6 do (not) + constitute 6 reflect 6 does (not) + intend 4 involve 4 should be cautioned 4 undertakes 4 assume 3 affect 2 is 2 makes 2 required 2 can be 1 may cause 1 Total 72 Table 25: Realizations of the ‘hinge’ in all patterns Realizations of ‘hinge’ Frequency are 15 could cause 10 are cautioned 6 do (not) + constitute 6 reflect 6 does (not) + intend 4 involve 4 should be cautioned 4 undertakes 4 assume 3 affect 2 is 2 makes 2 required 2 can be 1 may cause 1 Total 72 Realizations of ‘hinge’ Frequency are 15 could cause 10 are cautioned 6 do (not) + constitute 6 reflect 6 does (not) + intend 4 involve 4 should be cautioned 4 undertakes 4 assume 3 affect 2 is 2 makes 2 required 2 can be 1 may cause 1 Total 72 Functional categories of disclaimers Findings show that 84 of the 101 instances (83.1 per cent) of disclaimers are expressed in 13 patterns of local grammar. The remaining 17 instances of disclaimers consist of some functional categories of disclaimers, and they are used to convey the meaning of disclaiming in disclaimer sections in the reports; however, they do not conform to any of the 13 patterns. Therefore, they will not be discussed in this article. In these 13 patterns, 18 discourse functions are identified, such as the participants involved (‘addressee’, ‘authority/regulation’, and ‘creator of disclaimer’), aspects of the company (‘performance’, ‘nature of performance’, and ‘report’), the claim and opinion expressed (‘claim carrier’, ‘factors affecting claim’, ‘opinion’, ‘degree of dependence/warning’, ‘nature of claim/claim carrier/factors’, and ‘restriction on opinion’), investment risks (‘risks’ and ‘nature of risks’), the thing disclaimed (‘thing denied’, ‘nature of thing denied’, and ‘restriction on denial’), and the addressee’s dependence on and their use of the information in the claim (‘dependence’, ‘use’, and ‘restriction on dependence/use’). Table 1 presents the 18 functional categories of disclaimers and their discourse functions. Patterns of local grammar of disclaimers Thirteen patterns of local grammar of disclaimers have been identified, with four patterns (Patterns 1, 8, 10, and 13) each having two sub-patterns. In Tables 2–19, the language patterns are presented together with the mapping discourse functional categories. Most of the patterns are realized by similar stretches of language, suggesting that the writers of these disclaimers might have developed and adopted certain conventions and styles when presenting legal statements to perform a disclaiming function in the company reports. Language pattern 1: noun/noun group + verb + determiner + noun + to-infinitive clause(s) + [type one] conjunction + determiner + noun clause OR [type two] prepositional phrase/adverb group (N = 9) Pattern 1 can be divided into two types (Tables 2 and 3). In Pattern 1, the subject is a noun group referring to the company which creates the disclaimers, termed the ‘creator of disclaimer’. The ‘creator’ is realized in different ways: with conjunctions neither … nor … (neither the Group nor the Directors, employees, or agents of the Group), a noun group that refers to a group of people (the Group, the Directors, employees, and agents of the Group), a company name (HSBC), and the noun group the Company. The verb of Pattern 1a is assume, while those of 1b are makes and undertakes. The legal responsibility represented by the ‘thing denied’ is indicated by a noun obligation or commitment, which is negated by a determiner any or no. The to-infinitive clauses following the ‘thing denied’ obligation and commitment, termed ‘restriction on denial’, provide details about the nature of the legal duty, which is associated with the accuracy of the forward-looking statements described in the reports. In Pattern 1a, each to-infinitive clause is connected with another ‘thing denied’ by and. The ‘thing denied’, which denotes legal responsibility, is realized by a noun clause containing liability, negated by a determiner any or no (any/no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do/does not materialize or turn out to be incorrect). In Pattern 1b, however, there is only one ‘thing denied’, which is realized by a noun obligation or commitment, preceded with the determiner no. The ‘situation’, found in four of the six instances, refers to the situation in which the accuracy of information disclosed in the reports may not be valid. It is realized by a prepositional phrase (after the date of any forward-looking statements or as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise). Language pattern 2: noun group + verb + noun group + prepositional phrase + adjective + noun + conjunction + verb + adverb + noun group (N = 6) (Table 4) Pattern 2 (N = 6) begins with the noun group the/these forward-looking statements, followed by the verb reflect, noun group the Group’s/Company’s (current) views, prepositional phrase (as of the date hereof) with respect to, adjective future, noun events, conjunction and, verb are, adverb not, and finally a noun group which contains a guarantee of future performance (or developments). This pattern explicitly indicates the presence of forward-looking statements in the reports, which are descriptions about the future business performance from the perspective of the company, and the fact that the company does not promise that the plans, estimations, and expectations reported will be materialized in the future, and that the company will not be legally responsible for any future events. The legal responsibility, indicated by a noun group containing a guarantee, which realizes the ‘thing denied’, is negated by not. The combination of not and a guarantee enables the companies to disclaim the ‘opinion’, which they express and claim in the forward-looking statements in the reports. The forward-looking statements carry the claims of the companies, and the noun group the/these forward-looking statements is termed the ‘claim carrier’. In two instances, the ‘claim carrier’ is preceded with in addition. Language pattern 3: (determiner) + (adjective) + noun/noun group + (if-clause) + do not + verb + (adjective) + noun group (N = 6) (Table 5) Pattern 3 mainly concerns the assertion that the future plans or the statements about future events described in the reports are not to be regarded as commitment or promises by a particular company to its investors. In four instances, future qualifies the ‘claim carrier’, realized by plans (mentioned) and such statements, highlighting the company plans described in the reports. The claims conveyed by the plans and statements are disclaimed by do not constitute, the ‘nature of thing denied’, and the ‘thing denied’. As with Patterns 1, 2, 4, and 5, the disclaiming function of any legal responsibility involves the combination of an element of negation (do not constitute) and the ‘thing denied’. The ‘nature of thing denied’, realized by an adjective actual or substantial, pre-modifies the legal responsibility represented by the ‘thing denied’ in a noun group containing commitment(s). This functional category is not found in previous patterns. Language pattern 4: (adverb) + (noun group) + noun group + does not + verb + to-infinitive clause(s) (N = 4) (Table 6) Pattern 4 is semantically similar to Pattern 1 in that it concerns the accuracy of the forward-looking statements described in the company reports. In both patterns, the subject is a noun group referring to the ‘creator of disclaimer’. Pattern 4 differs from Pattern 1 in the discourse function of the to-infinitive clause. The to-infinitive clause in Pattern 4 describes the responsibility of updating the forward-looking statements, that is, the ‘thing denied’; that in Pattern 1 is the ‘restriction on denial’, which provides further information about the ‘thing denied’. Language pattern 5: noun group + verb + adjective + prepositional phrase + conjunction + adjective + noun + verb/verb group + determiner + noun group (N = 3) (Table 7) Comprised of two clauses, Pattern 5 describes the performance of the company (performance and the results of operations of the Group) as historical in nature and the performance in the past as no guarantee of future results of the Group. Historical in nature and past are used to specify the ‘performance’ of the company, highlighting its quality and nature. Pattern 5 allows the company, that is the Group, to state that what happened in the past about the company does not necessarily contribute to the performance of the company in the future and, in a more indirect way, that investment risks are involved in all investments. The ‘thing denied’, realized by the noun group which contains guarantee is negated by the determiner no. The combination of negation and the ‘thing denied’ indicates that the company will not be legally responsible for any future events. Language pattern 6: adjective/adjective group + noun/noun group + verb group + (adverb) + prepositional phrase + (adverb group) (N = 11) (Table 8) Pattern 6 is the most frequent (N = 11) among the 13 patterns. It begins with an adjective or adjective group (the/the Company’s) actual, followed by noun or noun group outcome, results (or performance), and results or developments (of the Company), verb group may differ, adverb materially (N = 10), and prepositional phrase containing forward-looking statements. In 4 of the 11 instances, the prepositional phrase is followed by an adverb group containing as a result of factors (and uncertainties). Pattern 6 is similar to most of the relative clauses of Patterns 7 and 8 in having in common ‘hinge’, ‘nature of thing denied’, ‘thing denied’, and ‘restriction on denial’. The relationship between these four functional categories and the ‘risks’ is different in that the functional categories are used as adjacent elements, functioning at the same level as the ‘risks’, although the ‘risks’ category is absent in some cases. In contrast, in Patterns 7 and 8, the functional categories are constituents of the ‘risks’, embedded in the relative clauses, except for two instances in Pattern 8b. Language pattern 7: pronoun/noun + verb group + (adverb) + conjunction + clause (N = 10) (Table 9) In Pattern 7, the subject you or readers, the ‘addressee’, of the passive verb refers to shareholders, potential investors, and other stakeholders who are advised to be very careful about their investment, and specifically warned of the risks and uncertainties which may be involved in their investment, which is one of the functions performed by disclaimers (McLaren-Hankin 2008). The meaning of the warning is conveyed by a verb group which contains caution in its passive form (are cautioned and should be cautioned), followed by the conjunction that and a clause. In 2 of the 10 instances, strongly qualifies are cautioned. The verb group are cautioned is connected with a prepositional phrase which refers to risks of investment in one annual report and one interim report examined (readers are specially cautioned on all kinds of risks disclosed in this annual/half year report, including but not limited to the risks set out in the ‘Risk Management’ of the annual report) (N = 2). The adverb specially is used to qualify are cautioned in these two instances. The clauses in Pattern 6 express the risks and uncertainties in investment, and are termed the ‘risks’. The clauses, except the first two instances (that reliance on any forward-looking statements involves known and unknown risks and uncertainties), form a separate language pattern. Clauses of Pattern 7: noun group + (relative clause) + (verb) + (noun group) + (conjunction) + verb group + adjective + noun + to-infinitive clause + (prepositional phrase) + adverb + prepositional phrase (N = 8) (Table 10) As a separate pattern, the eight instances of clause indicate a cause-and-effect relationship in investment, manifested by could cause. The cause or reason, termed the ‘factors affecting claim’, is realized by a number/variety of factors, whereas the effect or consequence brought by the ‘factors’ is the difference between the actual results of the companies (in terms of their future performance, operations and developments) and those anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements or the expectations expressed in the forward-looking statements in the reports. The factors which may result in such a difference are post-modified by many of which are beyond the Company’s control (N = 2) and affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company (N = 2), termed the ‘nature of factors’, used to inform the readers or remind them of both the limited power of the companies in developing their business in the future and the complexity of investment decision-making. To sum up, in Pattern 7, are (strongly) cautioned and should be cautioned combined with the meaning about investment risks expressed in the clauses explicitly caution readers about potential investment risks. The ‘reminders’ and ‘warnings’, which indicate that the financial losses of the companies may not be predictable and controllable, provide opportunities for the companies to disclaim their responsibilities for achieving any positive results anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements. Language pattern 8: [type one] noun group (implied) + verb + adjective group + noun group + relative clause OR [type two] noun group + verb + adjective + (adjective group) + noun group + relative clause (N = 9) Patterns 8a and 8b (Tables 11 and 12) are similar in that they contain four functional categories: the ‘claim carrier’, ‘hinge’, ‘nature of risks’, and ‘risks’ and differ from each other in that different lexico-grammatical features are used to connect the ‘claim carrier’ and the ‘nature of risks’. In Pattern 8, the subject is a noun group containing forward-looking statements, termed the ‘claim carrier’. In Pattern 8a, the noun group is followed by involve, known and unknown, a noun group about risks, uncertainties, and factors which may affect the companies’ future performance (risks and uncertainty and risks, uncertainties, and other factors), and a relative clause which shows a potential cause-and-effect relationship in investment, characterized by most of the functional categories of the clauses of Pattern 6. In Pattern 8b, the noun group is followed by are subject to and other linguistic elements found in Pattern 8a. The adjective group known and unknown, termed the ‘nature of risks’, is used in only two instances of Pattern 8b. All the six instances of Pattern 8b have a noun group that denotes risks and uncertainties in investment (a number of factors and uncertainties, risks, uncertainties, and other factors beyond the Company’s control and risks and uncertainties), post-modified by a relative clause. As with Pattern 7, Pattern 8 is concerned with risks in investment. However, the subject of this pattern is these/such forward-looking statements (the ‘claim carrier’), whereas that of Pattern 7 is you or readers (the ‘addressee’). Although both patterns can be regarded as ‘reminders’ and ‘warnings’ regarding investment risks, the meaning of Pattern 8 seems to be conveyed in a more factual way. Uncertainty (uncertainties), which carries a negative connotation, is found in all instances of Pattern 8; whereas factors, which has a neutral meaning, is used in Pattern 7. The presence of risk and uncertainty (uncertainties) of Pattern 8 enriches the meaning of the ‘risks’, and hence enables the meaning of the whole pattern to be conveyed in a more straightforward way. A prepositional phrase beyond the Company’s control is used to post-modify risks, uncertainties, and other factors in two of the instances of Pattern 8b (note beyond the Company’s control in Pattern 7). This prepositional phrase serves to emphasize the possibility of investment loss of the target reader, despite the fact that the company has developed strategies to manage its business. Relative clauses of Pattern 8:that/which + verb group + adjective/adjective group + noun/noun group + to-infinitive clause + adverb + (prepositional phrase) All the nine relative clauses of Pattern 8 begin with a relative pronoun that or which to qualify the preceding noun group with the meaning of factors, risks, and uncertainties in investment. Seven of the nine instances can be regarded as a separate pattern (see Tables 11 and 12). Similar to Pattern 7, they contain, in the same order, ‘hinge’, ‘nature of thing denied’, ‘thing denied’, and ‘restriction on denial’. Different from Pattern 7, the ‘thing denied’ in Pattern 8 does not have a prepositional phrase between the to-infinitive clause and the adverb, and the noun group in the ‘thing denied’ is realized not only by results but also various noun groups (performance, events, and financial condition), and thus enabling readers to understand that risks, uncertainties, and other factors may affect different aspects of the company. The two instances of relative clauses of Pattern 8b which do not form a separate pattern comprise relative pronoun that, verb group may be, and adjective group general or specific, assigned the functional category of the ‘nature of risks’. Language pattern 9: noun group (implied) + verb + adjective + noun group (N = 6) (Table 13) The subject of Pattern 9 is a noun group: forward-looking statements or any forward-looking statements and opinions. In two of the six instances, the noun group is implied. The noun group is followed by the verb involve, the adjective inherent (N = 4), and another noun group risks and uncertainties. Semantically, Pattern 9, same as Pattern 8, comprises the ‘claim carrier’, ‘hinge’, ‘nature of risks’, and ‘risks’. The verb involve occurs in all the instances of Pattern 9 and those of Pattern 8a. In Pattern 9, the ‘risks’, however, is realized by the noun group risks and uncertainties rather than a relative clause. Language pattern 10: noun + verb group + adjective + [type one] prepositional phrase OR [type two] relative clause (N = 5) The two types of Pattern 10 differ in the realizations, namely a prepositional phrase versus a relative clause, of the final functional category ‘risks’ (Tables 14 and 15). In Pattern 10, the subject ‘addressee’ refers to investors and other stakeholders. As with Pattern 7, Pattern 10 could be considered advice, a warning, or a reminder from the companies to the ‘addressee’ about ‘risks’. The ‘advice’ is mainly represented by caution (in its passive form) in Pattern 7 and aware in Pattern 10. Through the ‘advice’, the companies disclaim their responsibilities for any possible damage or loss of investors due to the risks in investment. Pattern 10, together with 6–9 and 11–12, with the presence of the ‘risks’, demonstrates how the meaning of risks in investment could be conveyed by various linguistic constructions in company reports. This ‘advice’ about how to interpret the forward-looking statements entails that there may be an undesirable consequence if the target readers do not take the ‘advice’, that is if they place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements. As will be seen in the final pattern below, the meaning of ‘advice’ from the companies can also be conveyed by other functional categories, namely ‘dependence’, ‘degree of dependence’, and ‘restriction on dependence’. Language pattern 11: noun group + verb + prepositional phrase + adjective + adjective + noun group (N = 4) (Table 16) Pattern 11 begins with the noun group these forward-looking statements, followed by the verb are, prepositional phrase by their names/nature, adjective subject to, another adjective significant, and another noun group risks and uncertainties. Similar to Patterns 8 and 9, it is characterized by the functional categories of ‘claim carrier’, ‘hinge’, ‘nature of risks’, and ‘risks’, but in Pattern 11, the ‘nature of claim carrier’ (by their names/nature) is used to provide details about the ‘claim carrier’ (these forward-looking statements). Language pattern 12: noun group and existential there + verb/verb group + (adjective) + noun group + relative clause (N = 3) (Table 17) In Pattern 12, there are two subjects: this Annual Report (N = 1) and there (N = 2). The functional category ‘report’ occurs in all the three instances, realized by the noun group this Annual Report (N = 1) and the prepositional phrase in this report within the second noun group (N = 2). The verb or verb groups are realized by may contain (N = 1) and are (N = 2). In two of the three instances, the adjective certain is used. All the three instances involve a relative clause, which post-modifies forward-looking statements in the second noun group, termed the ‘claim carrier’. The clause provides the meaning of the ‘risks’ (risks and uncertainties and risks, uncertainties, and assumptions) for the forward-looking statements. This shows a close connection between the ‘claim carrier’ and the ‘risks’, which has been revealed in Patterns 8, 9, and 11. Language pattern 13: pronoun/noun + verb group + adverb + [type one] adjective + noun + prepositional phrase OR [type two] to-infinitive clause + adjective + prepositional phrase (N = 8) Tables 18 and 19 Pattern 13 is semantically similar to Patterns 7 and 10, in that it indicates the ‘advice’ of the companies to their shareholders or potential investors and, at the same time, enables the companies to disclaim what they have claimed in the reports. However, the adverb not is used in Pattern 13. Patterns 13a and 13b both comprise ‘addressee’, ‘hinge’, ‘degree of dependence’, ‘dependence’, and ‘restriction on dependence’, but with a different sequence. Patterns 13a and 13b begin with the ‘addressee’, realized by you and investors or readers. In Pattern 13a, the pronoun or noun is followed by the verb group should not place (consisting of the modal verb should and the adverb not), adjective undue, noun reliance, and a prepositional phrase formed by the preposition on and a noun group which refers to the forward-looking information or statements in the reports (on any forward-looking information or statements and on these/the Company’s forward-looking statements). In Pattern 13b, you is followed by a verb group which contains caution in its passive form (are cautioned), which is also found in Pattern 7, adverb not, to-infinitive clause with adjective undue (to place undue reliance), and prepositional phrase on such statements. All the eight instances of Pattern 13, as well as the two instances of Pattern 10b, involve the use of the adjective undue (the ‘degree of dependence’), noun reliance (the ‘dependence’), and a prepositional phrase referring to forward-looking information or statements (the ‘restriction on dependence’). In Pattern 13, the meaning of ‘advice’ is largely conveyed by should not place undue reliance in the first type and are cautioned not to place undue reliance in the second type. Apart from its active form in Pattern 13, the verb place is used in its passive form to indicate the meaning that the target readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. (These statements are based on current plans, estimates and projections, and therefore undue reliance should not be placed on them) (N = 2). Again, the adverb not is used in this passive construction of ‘advice’. In sum, the 101 disclaimers examined are expressed in 13 patterns of local grammar and 18 discourse functions. Patterns 1–5, with frequencies of occurrence from 9 to 3, combine the ‘thing denied’ and the meaning of negation (‘no’, ‘not’, or ‘any); Patterns 6–12, with frequencies of occurrence from 11 to 3, involve ‘risks’. Syntactically, risks are realized by adverb groups (Pattern 6), clauses (Patterns 7 and 8), and noun groups (Patterns 9, 11, and 12). ‘Risks’ and ‘understanding of risks’ are used together in Pattern 10, with the discourse function of ‘understanding of risks’ specific to Pattern 10. The last pattern, Pattern 13, is unique with three discourse functions ‘dependence', ‘degree of dependence', and ‘restriction on dependence'. Canonical pattern and its variants A comparative analysis of the 13 language patterns of disclaimers was conducted to identify the canonical pattern, with all the rest of its instantiations regarded as its variants (Sinclair et al. 2004), with a view to describing the prototype of the linguistic elements of disclaimers in company reports. Discussion will focus on lexico-grammar followed by discourse functions. Findings show that the pattern of ‘pronoun/noun/noun group + verb/verb group + determiner or adverb + (adjective) + noun’ has the highest frequency (N = 15), and is therefore considered the canonical form of all the patterns (Table 20). This pattern is found in Patterns 1a and 1b (N = 9) and Pattern 13a (N = 6). In Pattern 13a, the adjective undue is inserted between the verb group with not (should not place) and the second noun reliance in all the six instances. Three variants of the canonical pattern are found (Tables 21–23), namely (i) ‘noun group + verb + adverb + noun group’ of Pattern 2 (N = 6), (ii) ‘noun group + do not + verb + (adjective) + noun group’ of Pattern 3 (N = 6), and (iii) ‘adjective + noun + verb/verb group + determiner + noun group’ of Pattern 5 (N = 3). (N = 15 in total.) Similar to the canonical pattern, these variants comprise two noun groups (or one noun and one noun group) and a verb or verb group with an element of negation (realized by a determiner or adverb). In two of these variant forms, some intervening words are found: in Pattern 2, between the first noun group and the verb are (N = 6); in Pattern 3, between the first noun group and do not (N = 2). In addition, an adjective is used in Patterns 3 and 5: in Pattern 3, actual and substantial between the verb constitute and the second noun group containing commitment(s) in four of the six instances; in Pattern 5, past pre-modifies performance in all the three instances. In terms of discourse functions of disclaimers, a closer examination of the canonical pattern (N = 15) and its three variants (N = 15) suggests that the combination of the ‘hinge’ with an element of negation (any or no or not) and the ‘thing denied’ could be considered canonical functional categories. This combination is found in all the instances of Pattern 1 (N = 9), Pattern 2 (N = 6), Pattern 3 (N = 6), and Pattern 5 (N = 3) (Table 24). Table 24 shows that the ‘hinge’ is realized by different verbs and verb groups (is, are, assume, makes, undertakes, can be, and do + constitute). The ‘thing denied’ is realized by a noun or noun group containing guarantee, future performance, obligation, and commitment(s), which refers to the companies’ legal responsibility and the things which may or may not happen in the future. The use of these nouns and noun groups acknowledges the presence of the claims relating to the future, i.e. the forward-looking statements, in the reports. Of all the 18 functional categories identified in this study, the ‘hinge’ is the most frequent across all the 13 language patterns. Realizations (N = 16) of ‘hinge’, sorted by frequency in descending order, are presented in Table 25. Of the 16 realizations of the ‘hinge’, the verb are is the most common (N = 15). It serves as a main verb in Patterns 2, 5, and 8b, as follows: (1) Pattern 2 (N = 6) (see Table 4) Example: These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and [these forward-looking statements] are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. (01-AR, 01-IR) In Pattern 2, are links the ‘claim carrier’, functioning as the subject (these forward-looking statements), with not and the ‘thing denied’ (a guarantee of future performance or developments), which is a description of these forward-looking statements. (2) Pattern 5 (N = 3) (see Table 7) Example: The performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report are historical in nature and past performance can be no guarantee of future results of the Group. (05-AR) In Pattern 5, are connects the ‘performance’, functioning as the subject of the verb (the performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report), and the ‘nature of performance’ (historical and in nature. (3) Pattern 8b (N = 6) (see Table 12) Example: These forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. (12-AR, 12-IR) Finally, in Pattern 8b, are links the ‘claim carrier’, functioning as the subject (these forward-looking statements) with subject to, and the ‘risks' (risks, uncertainties and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements). CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS The study has extended the concept of local grammar to the study of a specific discourse type in business and professional communication, affirming Hunston and Sinclair’s (2000) view that analyses of texts of particular language use which adopt a local grammar approach would be more simple, precise, and useful than using a general grammar. It has also outlined and illustrated an analytical procedure to provide a means of interpreting the local grammar of specific language use. Examination of 101 disclaimers in company reports has identified a range of local grammar patterns, described in terms of the linguistic elements that represent the range of lexico-grammatical, semantic, and discourse functional features that writers use to disclaim legal liability and to deny legal claims in company reports. Based on frequency, the study has also identified the canonical pattern, together with its variants, of the local grammar of disclaimers, which represents the prototype of the linguistic elements of disclaimers, in company reports. While the notion of a canonical form of units of meaning resolves the problem of how to relate a finite set of meaningful linguistic elements to the infinite set of meanings in use (Sinclair 2004), the idea of a canonical pattern of a local grammar enhances the simplicity, preciseness, and usefulness of analyses of texts of particular language use (Hunston and Sinclair 2000). The canonical pattern of disclaimers identified in this study; that is, ‘pronoun/noun/noun group + verb/verb group + determiner or adverb + (adjective) + noun’, with the corresponding discourse functions, can serve as the basic reference point for producing and understanding disclaimers in company reports. Through adopting a local grammar approach to the study of the language, meaning, and function of disclaimers in company interim and annual reports, the study has further demonstrated that local grammars can enhance the descriptions of language, particularly in quantifying expressions of meaning in different registers (Bednarek 2008). Future studies can examine the linguistic elements of disclaimers in other professional, organizational, management, and corporate genres and contexts (Bhatia 2014), such as emails, websites, press releases, advertisements, and reports and publications of the government and companies. The findings of the study, particularly the canonical form of disclaimers, would be useful for professionals in business, financial services, law, and public relations not only for awareness raising but also offering analysed samples of real-life and contextualized disclaimers for professional development purposes. REFERENCES Allen C. M. 2006 . ‘A Local Grammar of Cause and Effect: A Corpus-Driven Study,’ Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Birmingham . Barnbrook G. 2002 . Defining Language: A Local Grammar of Definition Sentences . John Benjamins . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Barnbrook G. , Sinclair J. McH. . 2001 . ‘Specialised corpus, local and functional grammars’ in Ghadessy M. , Henry A. , Roseberry R. L. (eds): Small Corpus Studies and ELT: Theory and Practice . John Benjamins , pp. 237 – 76 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Bednarek M. 2007 . ‘Local grammar and register variation: Explorations in broadsheet and tabloid newspaper discourse,’ Empirical Language Research Journal 2 : 1 – 23 , available at http://ejournals.org.uk/ELR/article/2007/1. Accessed 10 December 2014 . Bednarek M. 2008 . Emotion Talk across Corpora . Palgrave Macmillan . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Bhatia V. K. 2014 . ‘Analysing discourse variation in professional contexts’ in Bhatia V. , Bremner S. (eds.): The Routledge Handbook of Language and Professional Communication : Routledge , pp. 3 – 12 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Bhatia V. K. 2010 . ‘Interdiscursivity in professional communication,’ Discourse and Communication 4 1 : 32 – 50 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Business Dictionary.com. 2015 . WebFinance, Inc., available at http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/disclaimer.html. Accessed 5 May 2015 . Cheng W. , Greaves C. , Sinclair J. McH. , Warren M. . 2009 . Uncovering the extent of the phraseological tendency: Towards a systematic analysis of concgrams . Applied Linguistics 30 ( 2 ): 236 – 52 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Flowerdew J. , Wan A. . 2010 . ‘The linguistic and the contextual in applied genre analysis: The case of the company audit report,’ English for Specific Purposes 29 2 : 78 – 93 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Gross M. 1993 . ‘Local grammars and their representation by finite automata’ in Hoey M. (ed.): Data, Description, Discourse . HarperCollins , pp. 26 – 38 . Hang Seng Indexes Company Limited. 2014 . ‘Hang Seng Index,’ available at http://www.hsi.com.hk/HSI-Net/static/revamp/contents/en/dl-centre/factsheets/FS-HSIe.pdf. Accessed 12 April 2014 . Hewitt J. P. , Stokes R. . 1975 . ‘Disclaimers,’ American Sociological Review 40 1 : 1 – 11 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited. 2014a . ‘Frequently asked questions,’ available at https://www.hkex.com.hk/eng/listing/listhk/faq.htm. Accessed 10 December 2014 . Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited. 2014b . ‘Our markets,’ available at http://www.hkex.com.hk/eng/listing/listhk/our_markets.htm. Accessed 10 December 2014 . Hunston S. 2002 . Corpora in Applied Linguistics . Cambridge University Press . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Hunston S. , Sinclair J. McH. . 2000 . ‘A local grammar of evaluation’ in Hunston S. , Thompson G. (eds): Evaluation in Text: Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse . Oxford University Press , pp. 74 – 101 . McLaren-Hankin Y. 2008 . ‘“We expect to report on significant progress in our product pipeline in the coming year”: Hedging forward-looking statements in corporate press releases,’ Discourse Studies 10 5 : 635 – 54 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Moles P. , Terry N. (eds). 2005 . The Handbook of International Financial Terms . Online version. Oxford University Press, available at http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780198294818.001.0001/acref-9780198294818. Accessed 10 December 2014 . Nam J. , Choi K. . 1997 . ‘A local grammar-based approach to recognizing of proper names in Korean texts,’ available at http://clair.eecs.umich.edu/aan/paper.php?paper_id=W97-0125#pdf. Accessed 10 December 2014 . Sinclair J. McH . 2004 . How to Use Corpora in Language Teaching . John Benjamins . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Sinclair J. McH. , Jones S. , Daley R. , Krishnamurthy R. . 2004 . English Collocation Studies: The OSTI Report . Continuum . Tayebi T. , Parvaresh V. . 2014 . ‘Conversational disclaimers in Persian,’ Journal of Pragmatics 62 : 77 – 93 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. 2008 . The Gale Group, Inc., 2nd edn, available at http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/disclaimer. Accessed 10 December 2014 . © Oxford University Press 2016 This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Applied Linguistics Oxford University Press

‘Not a Guarantee of Future Performance’: The Local Grammar of Disclaimers

Applied Linguistics , Volume Advance Article (3) – Mar 22, 2016

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Oxford University Press
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© Oxford University Press 2016
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0142-6001
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Abstract

Abstract The study extends the concept of local grammar to the study of disclaimers in company reports. It also outlines and illustrates an analytical procedure to provide a means of interpreting the local grammar of specific language use. Data analysis has identified 18 functional categories and 13 lexico-grammatical patterns in the disclaimers examined. Functional category labels, including ‘creator of disclaimer’, ‘claim carrier’, ‘risks’, ‘nature of thing denied’, and ‘restriction on dependence/use’, were created to directly reflect the discourse functions of the language elements. Based on frequency, the study identifies the canonical pattern, together with its variants, of the local grammar, representing the prototype of the linguistic elements, of the disclaimers. The study contributes to the research of local grammars, affirming the view of previous studies that adopting a local grammar approach, compared with a general grammar, makes analyses of texts of specific language use more simple, precise and useful. INTRODUCTION A local grammar, compared with a general grammar, is seen as a better way to describe language use, as it describes ‘the resources for only one set of meanings in a language, rather than for the language as a whole’ (Hunston 2002: 90). When a local grammar is employed in language description, it is not necessary ‘to squeeze the description into ill-adapted general categories but uses a categorisation and terminology that is developed specifically for each area’, the specificity of which is characterized by ‘accuracy, transparency, and cumulative coverage’ (Hunston and Sinclair 2000: 74). The study of the local grammar of ‘a subset of normal language, the sublanguage’ (Barnbrook 2002: 94) has examined various types of language use and communicative functions, including expressions of time (Gross 1993), evaluation (Hunston and Sinclair 2000; Bednarek 2007), sameness and difference (Hunston 2002), cause and effect (Allen 2006), emotion (Bednarek 2008), and proper names (Nam and Choi 1997). This study extends the concept of local grammar to the study of a discourse, specifically disclaimers in the professional genre of company interim and annual reports. Disclaimers have long been used by accounting, corporate communications, and public relations professionals to disclaim legal liability for the disclosure of information in a range of written business discourses, including corporate annual reports (Bhatia 2010), corporate press releases (McLaren-Hankin 2008), and company audit reports (Flowerdew and Wan 2010). Disclaimers have been examined by researches in discourse analysis, pragmatics, and social psychology (McLaren-Hankin 2008; Bhatia 2010; Tayebi and Parvaresh 2014); nevertheless, no research has been conducted on the lexis and grammar of each part of the disclaimer text along with the corresponding semantic meaning and discourse functions. This study, representing a further contribution to research on local grammar and professional discourse, aims to identify the local grammar of disclaimers in interim and annual reports of companies listed in Hong Kong, with a view to describing how meaning making is achieved at the levels of semantics, lexico-grammar, and discourse functions. It also outlines and exemplifies a procedure for analysing the local grammar of the language use in a specific discourse type. Based on frequency, the study identifies the canonical pattern, with all of its variants, of the local grammar of disclaimers examined, followed by determining the extent to which the variants adhere to the canonical pattern with regard to both lexico-grammar and discourse functions; in other words, the degree of turbulence exhibited by the variants benchmarked against the canonical pattern (Cheng et al. 2009). The purpose is to identify the most prototypical, explicit, comprehensive, and unambiguous presentation of the linguistic elements of disclaimers, which will have important implications for an informed understanding of the usage of legal statements of disclaimers in business and professional communication. In the following, the article provides a literature review of research studies on disclaimers and local grammar, followed by a description of the data examined and the analytical procedure for interpreting the local grammar of disclaimers, illustrated by examples of disclaimer text. The findings of the study are organized into functional categories, patterns of local grammar (lexico-grammar and discourse functions), linguistic realizations of the canonical form and its variant forms, and the canonical functional categories. All the findings are illustrated with tabulated analyses and examples of disclaimer texts. The article ends with conclusions and implications. DISCLAIMERS Disclaimers are often found in spoken and written discourse in social and professional and organizational contexts to disclaim legal responsibilities. In conversations, for instance, disclaimers, such as ‘I’m no expert, of course, but’, are used by speakers to avoid potential trouble (Hewitt and Stokes 1975: 4), while on web pages, they disclaim different kinds of legal responsibilities. In business contexts, a ‘disclaimer’ is defined in terms of syntax, physical context, and function, namely a ‘clause and statement in a document that tries to prevent creation of a warranty or contract’ (Business Dictionary.com 2015). From a legal standpoint, a disclaimer refers to ‘the denial, refusal, or rejection of a right, power, or responsibility’, and ‘a defensive measure, used generally with the purpose of protection from unwanted claims or liability’ (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law 2008). In finance services, a disclaimer is ‘a note attached to a publicly distributed document with the aim of limiting the originator’s liability for its accuracy, content or quality’ (Moles and Terry 2005). Disclaimers have been examined in a variety of business and media texts and discourses. McLaren-Hankin (2008), for instance, examined hedging in forward-looking statements in corporate press releases and found that by incorporating a disclaimer in the press release, companies listed on the US stock exchange and the UK stock exchange explicitly convey uncertainties in their future business developments and succeed in preventing themselves from being held responsible for their claims about the future which may not materialize. Flowerdew and Wan (2010: 86) analysed company audit reports and found that DISCLAIMER OF OPINION is used in two situations: ‘when the auditor is unable to complete the audit for whatever reason and is therefore not willing to give an opinion’, and when some auditors wish to limit their legal responsibilities for their auditing work. In his research on interdiscursivity in professional communication, Bhatia (2010: 38) examined ‘corporate disclosure practices through corporate disclosure genres’, one of which being corporate annual reports. His study of the corporate annual reports of 15 Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed companies identified at least four different kinds of discourses, namely accounting discourse, discourse of economics, public relations discourse, and legal discourse, which ‘are cleverly exploited to “bend” the norms and conventions of “reporting” to promote a positive image of the company’ (p. 39) and to boost investor confidence in the company, ‘even in adverse and challenging economic circumstances’ (p. 39). Companies are found to ‘guard against any possible (intended or unintended) overestimations, unsupported predictions, or speculative statements’ (p. 44) in the public relations discourse and discourse of economics through a legal disclaimer. Legal discourse, found to form ‘a major part of disclaimers’, is necessary for comprehending ‘the full implications of the information disclosed in the report’ (p. 39). Bhatia (2010) describes possible consequences of overlooking the disclaimers in the corporate annual reports: If readers, especially minority shareholders, are unaware of the content of such disclaimers and tend to read the predictions, projections, and other speculative claims made through the annual report without disclosing the detailed investment risks, they can be and often are shocked by the corporate results in succeeding years. (Bhatia 2010: 45) LOCAL GRAMMAR The first study of local grammar (Gross 1993) examined the limited features shared among synonymous idiomatic expressions and phrases referring to time (e.g. on May 2nd, on Tuesday May the 2nd, on Tuesday the 2nd of May). Examining the Bank of English at COBUILD, Hunston and Sinclair (2000: 89) described a local grammar of evaluation that is made up of a limited number of elements. Examples are ‘he (evaluator) is (hinge) adamant (evaluating response) that he does not want to enter politics (thing evaluated)’ and ‘they (evaluation carrier) were (hinge) lucky (evaluative category) that we scored when we did (thing evaluated)’. Bednarek (2007) compared British English broadsheets and tabloid newspapers and identified eight patterns of evaluative adjectives, including most of the patterns in Hunston and Sinclair (2000), some new realizations of those patterns, as well as new patterns. In another study, Hunston (2002: 90–1) described a local grammar of sameness and difference, by identifying the words that indicate these meanings (e.g. ‘equate’, ‘match’, ‘contrast’, ‘differentiate’) and the patterns in which they are used (e.g. verb + plural noun group as in ‘equate two things’, verb + between + plural noun group as in ‘differentiate between two things’), then identifying elements in the local grammar, such as ‘comparer’, ‘comparison’, ‘item 1’, and ‘item 2’, and lastly mapping these elements onto the patterns. The local grammar of a particular language use can be employed to automatically retrieve all such instances of language use from a corpus. Barnbrook and Sinclair (2001), for instance, showed how a computer program based on the features of the local grammar can be used to search for definitions in corpora that comprised non-dictionary texts, arguing that the structures used in dictionary definitions are in fact not specific to dictionaries but are frequently used for definitions generally. In Barnbrook’s (2002) study of a local grammar of definition sentences, the functional components of the sentences were extracted by parsing software. Inspired by the previous research outlined above, the present study adopted a local grammar approach to examine a specific discourse in finance services. METHOD OF STUDY Data The data examined in this study were 50 interim reports and 50 annual reports (N = 100) from the websites of 50 companies, which were constituents of the Hang Seng Index, ‘the most widely quoted gauge of the Hong Kong stock market, including the largest and most liquid stocks listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong’ (Hang Seng Indexes Company Limited 2014). The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (2014b) operates two markets for companies to list their shares: the Main Board and the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM). Main Board and GEM issuers are obliged to disclose financial information by publishing annual, half-yearly (interim), and quarterly reports (for GEM issuers only) within a certain period after the financial period has ended (Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited 2014a). The listed companies are also required to make their reports and financial statements accessible to the public on the website of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, the GEM website, and the listed companies’ websites. Listed company websites usually include a section called ‘Investor relations’, along with a wide range of other documents of the companies. Data collection involved locating the most recent interim and annual reports at the time of the research (April 2014) from the websites of the 50 companies. Data analysis procedure Data analysis was conducted manually in five steps. First, each of the company reports was read to identify instances of legal statements of disclaimers. It was found that sections of disclaimers had been incorporated into 33 reports (16 interim and 17 annual reports) from 19 companies, with both interim and annual reports from 14 companies, interim reports from 2, and annual reports from 3 companies. Disclaimer sections were not available in the reports of the other 31 companies. Disclaimers were placed either before or after the main contents of the report, with 17 (51.5 per cent) of them placed underneath a heading with ‘forward-looking statements’ (e.g. ‘Forward-Looking Statements’, ‘Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements’, and ‘Past Performance and Forward-Looking Statements’) and 4 (12.1 per cent) with ‘risk’ (e.g. ‘IMPORTANT RISK REMINDER’ and ‘Material Risk Alert’). The word ‘disclaimer’ was found in only one (3 per cent) heading. The remaining 33.4 per cent of the sections of disclaimers were embedded in the reports without a specific heading. In most of the 33 reports, there was more than one instance of disclaimers in the forward-looking statements, risk, or disclaimer section. The following shows the two-paragraph ‘Cautionary Statements Regarding Forward-Looking Statements’ section in an annual report. Five instances of disclaimers were identified. They are underlined and numbered, for illustration: (Company 18-Annual Report) Cautionary Statements Regarding Forward-Looking Statements To the extent any statements made in this report contains information that is not historical are essentially forward-looking. These forward-looking statements include but are not limited to projections, targets, estimates and business plans that the Company expects or anticipates will or may occur in the future. (1) These forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may be general or specific. Certain statements, such as those include the words or phrases “potential”, “estimates”, “expects”, “anticipates”, “objective”, “intends”, “plans”, “believes”, “will”, “may”, “should”, and similar expressions or variations on such expressions may be considered forward-looking statements. (2) Readers should be cautioned that a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations and results of the Company, and could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations expressed in any of the Company’s forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, exchange rate fluctuations, market shares, competition, environmental risks, changes in legal, financial and regulatory frameworks, international economic and financial market conditions and other risks and factors beyond our control. These and other factors should be considered carefully and (3) readers should not place undue reliance on the Company’s forward-looking statements. (4) In addition, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement that is contained in this report as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. (5) None of the Company, or any of its employees or affiliates is responsible for, or is making, any representations concerning the future performance of the Company. The second step involved identifying the linguistic elements in the disclaiming clauses which indicate meanings associated with disclaiming and the patterns in which the meanings are used. The third step involved assigning transparent category labels (Bednarek 2007) to various discourse functions in the disclaimer text. Fourth, the functional categories were mapped onto the language (lexis and grammar) patterns. Lastly, all the patterns were examined to identify a canonical pattern, which was then used as the benchmark against which all other patterns were compared. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION A total of 101 instances of disclaimers were identified from the 33 company interim and annual reports. The following discusses the findings with regard to functional categories (Table 1) and patterns of local grammar (lexico-grammar and discourse functions) (Tables 2–19), followed by a discussion of the linguistic realizations of the canonical form (Table 20) and its variant forms (Tables 21–23). Lastly, the canonical functional categories are discussed (Tables 24 and 25). Table 1: Functional categories and discourse functions Functional category Discourse function 1 Addressee The target readers of the company interim and annual report 2 Authority/regulation The authorities and regulations which control the contents of the report 3 Claim carrier The information which describes the claim of a company 4 Creator of disclaimer The writer of the report, i.e. the company 5 Degree of … (i) Dependence (ii) Warning The extent to which (i) dependence or (ii) warning is expressed in the report 6 Dependence The target readers’ dependence on the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 7 Factors affecting claim The factors which may affect the claim of a company 8 Hinge A connection between two functional elements of a pattern 9 Nature of … (i) Claim (ii) Claim carrier (iii) Factors (iv) Performance (v) Risks (vi) Thing denied The quality of: (i) The claim of a company (ii) The information which describes the claim of a company (iii) The factors which may affect the claim of a company (iv) The performance of the company (v) The risks which may be involved in investment (vi) The thing which is disclaimed by a company 10 Opinion The ideas or beliefs of a company which are expressed in the report 11 Performance The performance of the company 12 Report The company interim or annual report 13 Restriction on … (i) Denial (ii) Dependence (iii) Opinion (iv) Use The things which are related to: (i) The disclaimer which is made by a company (ii) The target readers’ dependence of the information conveyed in forward-looking statements (iii) The ideas or beliefs of a company (iv) The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 14 Risks The risks which may be involved in investment 15 Situation The situation in which the accuracy of information disclosed in the report may not be valid 16 Thing denied The thing which a company disclaims, i.e. the legal responsibilities in the context of a particular disclaimer 17 Understanding of risks The target readers’ understanding of the risks which may be involved in investment 18 Use The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements Functional category Discourse function 1 Addressee The target readers of the company interim and annual report 2 Authority/regulation The authorities and regulations which control the contents of the report 3 Claim carrier The information which describes the claim of a company 4 Creator of disclaimer The writer of the report, i.e. the company 5 Degree of … (i) Dependence (ii) Warning The extent to which (i) dependence or (ii) warning is expressed in the report 6 Dependence The target readers’ dependence on the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 7 Factors affecting claim The factors which may affect the claim of a company 8 Hinge A connection between two functional elements of a pattern 9 Nature of … (i) Claim (ii) Claim carrier (iii) Factors (iv) Performance (v) Risks (vi) Thing denied The quality of: (i) The claim of a company (ii) The information which describes the claim of a company (iii) The factors which may affect the claim of a company (iv) The performance of the company (v) The risks which may be involved in investment (vi) The thing which is disclaimed by a company 10 Opinion The ideas or beliefs of a company which are expressed in the report 11 Performance The performance of the company 12 Report The company interim or annual report 13 Restriction on … (i) Denial (ii) Dependence (iii) Opinion (iv) Use The things which are related to: (i) The disclaimer which is made by a company (ii) The target readers’ dependence of the information conveyed in forward-looking statements (iii) The ideas or beliefs of a company (iv) The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 14 Risks The risks which may be involved in investment 15 Situation The situation in which the accuracy of information disclosed in the report may not be valid 16 Thing denied The thing which a company disclaims, i.e. the legal responsibilities in the context of a particular disclaimer 17 Understanding of risks The target readers’ understanding of the risks which may be involved in investment 18 Use The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements Table 1: Functional categories and discourse functions Functional category Discourse function 1 Addressee The target readers of the company interim and annual report 2 Authority/regulation The authorities and regulations which control the contents of the report 3 Claim carrier The information which describes the claim of a company 4 Creator of disclaimer The writer of the report, i.e. the company 5 Degree of … (i) Dependence (ii) Warning The extent to which (i) dependence or (ii) warning is expressed in the report 6 Dependence The target readers’ dependence on the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 7 Factors affecting claim The factors which may affect the claim of a company 8 Hinge A connection between two functional elements of a pattern 9 Nature of … (i) Claim (ii) Claim carrier (iii) Factors (iv) Performance (v) Risks (vi) Thing denied The quality of: (i) The claim of a company (ii) The information which describes the claim of a company (iii) The factors which may affect the claim of a company (iv) The performance of the company (v) The risks which may be involved in investment (vi) The thing which is disclaimed by a company 10 Opinion The ideas or beliefs of a company which are expressed in the report 11 Performance The performance of the company 12 Report The company interim or annual report 13 Restriction on … (i) Denial (ii) Dependence (iii) Opinion (iv) Use The things which are related to: (i) The disclaimer which is made by a company (ii) The target readers’ dependence of the information conveyed in forward-looking statements (iii) The ideas or beliefs of a company (iv) The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 14 Risks The risks which may be involved in investment 15 Situation The situation in which the accuracy of information disclosed in the report may not be valid 16 Thing denied The thing which a company disclaims, i.e. the legal responsibilities in the context of a particular disclaimer 17 Understanding of risks The target readers’ understanding of the risks which may be involved in investment 18 Use The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements Functional category Discourse function 1 Addressee The target readers of the company interim and annual report 2 Authority/regulation The authorities and regulations which control the contents of the report 3 Claim carrier The information which describes the claim of a company 4 Creator of disclaimer The writer of the report, i.e. the company 5 Degree of … (i) Dependence (ii) Warning The extent to which (i) dependence or (ii) warning is expressed in the report 6 Dependence The target readers’ dependence on the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 7 Factors affecting claim The factors which may affect the claim of a company 8 Hinge A connection between two functional elements of a pattern 9 Nature of … (i) Claim (ii) Claim carrier (iii) Factors (iv) Performance (v) Risks (vi) Thing denied The quality of: (i) The claim of a company (ii) The information which describes the claim of a company (iii) The factors which may affect the claim of a company (iv) The performance of the company (v) The risks which may be involved in investment (vi) The thing which is disclaimed by a company 10 Opinion The ideas or beliefs of a company which are expressed in the report 11 Performance The performance of the company 12 Report The company interim or annual report 13 Restriction on … (i) Denial (ii) Dependence (iii) Opinion (iv) Use The things which are related to: (i) The disclaimer which is made by a company (ii) The target readers’ dependence of the information conveyed in forward-looking statements (iii) The ideas or beliefs of a company (iv) The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements 14 Risks The risks which may be involved in investment 15 Situation The situation in which the accuracy of information disclosed in the report may not be valid 16 Thing denied The thing which a company disclaims, i.e. the legal responsibilities in the context of a particular disclaimer 17 Understanding of risks The target readers’ understanding of the risks which may be involved in investment 18 Use The target readers’ act of using the information conveyed in forward-looking statements Table 2: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 1a Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause Conjunction Determiner Noun clause Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees or agents of the Group assume (a) any Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) any liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turns out to be incorrect. 1 05-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Interim Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-IR Total 3 Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause Conjunction Determiner Noun clause Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees or agents of the Group assume (a) any Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) any liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turns out to be incorrect. 1 05-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Interim Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-IR Total 3 Table 2: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 1a Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause Conjunction Determiner Noun clause Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees or agents of the Group assume (a) any Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) any liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turns out to be incorrect. 1 05-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Interim Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-IR Total 3 Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause Conjunction Determiner Noun clause Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees or agents of the Group assume (a) any Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) any liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turns out to be incorrect. 1 05-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no Obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Annual Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-AR The Group, the Directors, employees and agents of the Group assume (a) no obligation to correct or update the forward-looking statements or opinions contained in this Interim Report; and (b) no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do not materialize or turn out to be incorrect. 1 14-IR Total 3 Table 3: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 1b Hinge Authority/ Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Situation Frequency Conjunction Verb Prepositional phrase Idiom Noun/noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause(s) Prepositional phrase/adverb group (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) HSBC makes no commitment to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring or existing after the date of any forward-looking statements. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) In addition, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement that is contained in this report as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. 2 18-AR, 18-IR (Clause)… unless required by regulatory authorities, (N/A) the Company undertakes no obligation to update these statements. (N/A) 2 19-AR, 19-IR Total 6 Hinge Authority/ Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Situation Frequency Conjunction Verb Prepositional phrase Idiom Noun/noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause(s) Prepositional phrase/adverb group (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) HSBC makes no commitment to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring or existing after the date of any forward-looking statements. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) In addition, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement that is contained in this report as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. 2 18-AR, 18-IR (Clause)… unless required by regulatory authorities, (N/A) the Company undertakes no obligation to update these statements. (N/A) 2 19-AR, 19-IR Total 6 Table 3: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 1b Hinge Authority/ Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Situation Frequency Conjunction Verb Prepositional phrase Idiom Noun/noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause(s) Prepositional phrase/adverb group (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) HSBC makes no commitment to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring or existing after the date of any forward-looking statements. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) In addition, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement that is contained in this report as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. 2 18-AR, 18-IR (Clause)… unless required by regulatory authorities, (N/A) the Company undertakes no obligation to update these statements. (N/A) 2 19-AR, 19-IR Total 6 Hinge Authority/ Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Restriction on denial Situation Frequency Conjunction Verb Prepositional phrase Idiom Noun/noun group Verb Determiner Noun to-infinitive clause(s) Prepositional phrase/adverb group (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) HSBC makes no commitment to revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring or existing after the date of any forward-looking statements. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) In addition, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement that is contained in this report as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. 2 18-AR, 18-IR (Clause)… unless required by regulatory authorities, (N/A) the Company undertakes no obligation to update these statements. (N/A) 2 19-AR, 19-IR Total 6 Table 4: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 2 Claim carrier Hinge Opinion Restriction on opinion Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb group Noun group Verb Noun group Prepositional phrase Adjective Noun Conjunction Verb Adverb Noun group (N/A) These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 01-AR, 01-IR In addition, these forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 09-AR, 09-IR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 17-AR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Opinion Restriction on opinion Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb group Noun group Verb Noun group Prepositional phrase Adjective Noun Conjunction Verb Adverb Noun group (N/A) These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 01-AR, 01-IR In addition, these forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 09-AR, 09-IR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 17-AR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 6 Table 4: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 2 Claim carrier Hinge Opinion Restriction on opinion Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb group Noun group Verb Noun group Prepositional phrase Adjective Noun Conjunction Verb Adverb Noun group (N/A) These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 01-AR, 01-IR In addition, these forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 09-AR, 09-IR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 17-AR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Opinion Restriction on opinion Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb group Noun group Verb Noun group Prepositional phrase Adjective Noun Conjunction Verb Adverb Noun group (N/A) These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 01-AR, 01-IR In addition, these forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 09-AR, 09-IR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 17-AR (N/A) The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 6 Table 5: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 3 Nature of claim Claim carrier Nature of claim carrier Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Frequency Conjunction Determiner Adjective Noun/noun group if-clause do not Verb Adjective Noun group (Clause) … and any future plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 02-AR, 02-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 08-AR, 08-IR (N/A) The future plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 15-AR, 15-IR Total 6 Nature of claim Claim carrier Nature of claim carrier Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Frequency Conjunction Determiner Adjective Noun/noun group if-clause do not Verb Adjective Noun group (Clause) … and any future plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 02-AR, 02-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 08-AR, 08-IR (N/A) The future plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 15-AR, 15-IR Total 6 Table 5: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 3 Nature of claim Claim carrier Nature of claim carrier Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Frequency Conjunction Determiner Adjective Noun/noun group if-clause do not Verb Adjective Noun group (Clause) … and any future plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 02-AR, 02-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 08-AR, 08-IR (N/A) The future plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 15-AR, 15-IR Total 6 Nature of claim Claim carrier Nature of claim carrier Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Frequency Conjunction Determiner Adjective Noun/noun group if-clause do not Verb Adjective Noun group (Clause) … and any future plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 02-AR, 02-IR (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 08-AR, 08-IR (N/A) The future plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 15-AR, 15-IR Total 6 Table 6: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 4 Authority/Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb Noun group Noun group does not Verb to-infinitive clause(s) Subject to the requirements of the Listing Rules, the Group does not intend to update or otherwise revise the forward-looking statements in this document, whether … (clause) 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) (N/A) The Company does not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 09-AR, 09-IR Total 4 Authority/Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb Noun group Noun group does not Verb to-infinitive clause(s) Subject to the requirements of the Listing Rules, the Group does not intend to update or otherwise revise the forward-looking statements in this document, whether … (clause) 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) (N/A) The Company does not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 09-AR, 09-IR Total 4 Table 6: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 4 Authority/Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb Noun group Noun group does not Verb to-infinitive clause(s) Subject to the requirements of the Listing Rules, the Group does not intend to update or otherwise revise the forward-looking statements in this document, whether … (clause) 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) (N/A) The Company does not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 09-AR, 09-IR Total 4 Authority/Regulation Creator of disclaimer Hinge Thing denied Frequency Adverb Noun group Noun group does not Verb to-infinitive clause(s) Subject to the requirements of the Listing Rules, the Group does not intend to update or otherwise revise the forward-looking statements in this document, whether … (clause) 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) (N/A) The Company does not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 09-AR, 09-IR Total 4 Table 7: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 5 Performance Hinge Nature of performance Nature of performance Performance Hinge Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Prepositional phrase Conjunction Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group The performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report are historical in nature and past performance can be no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 05-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Annual Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Interim Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-IR Total 3 Performance Hinge Nature of performance Nature of performance Performance Hinge Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Prepositional phrase Conjunction Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group The performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report are historical in nature and past performance can be no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 05-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Annual Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Interim Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-IR Total 3 Table 7: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 5 Performance Hinge Nature of performance Nature of performance Performance Hinge Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Prepositional phrase Conjunction Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group The performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report are historical in nature and past performance can be no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 05-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Annual Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Interim Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-IR Total 3 Performance Hinge Nature of performance Nature of performance Performance Hinge Thing denied Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Prepositional phrase Conjunction Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group The performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report are historical in nature and past performance can be no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 05-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Annual Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-AR The performance and the results of operations of the Group contained within this Interim Report are historical in nature, and past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 1 14-IR Total 3 Table 8: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 6 Nature of thing denied Thing denied Hinge Restriction on denial Risks Frequency Adjective/adjective group Noun/noun group Verb group Adverb Prepositional phrase Adverb group Actual results or performance may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 1 05-AR The actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-AR Actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-IR Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of factors, including … 2 09-AR, 09-IR Actual results may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 2 14-AR, 14-IR Actual results may differ (N/A) from the information contained in the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 2 17-AR, 17-IR The Company’s actual results or developments may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-AR The actual results or developments of the Company may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-IR Total 11 Nature of thing denied Thing denied Hinge Restriction on denial Risks Frequency Adjective/adjective group Noun/noun group Verb group Adverb Prepositional phrase Adverb group Actual results or performance may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 1 05-AR The actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-AR Actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-IR Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of factors, including … 2 09-AR, 09-IR Actual results may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 2 14-AR, 14-IR Actual results may differ (N/A) from the information contained in the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 2 17-AR, 17-IR The Company’s actual results or developments may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-AR The actual results or developments of the Company may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-IR Total 11 Table 8: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 6 Nature of thing denied Thing denied Hinge Restriction on denial Risks Frequency Adjective/adjective group Noun/noun group Verb group Adverb Prepositional phrase Adverb group Actual results or performance may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 1 05-AR The actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-AR Actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-IR Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of factors, including … 2 09-AR, 09-IR Actual results may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 2 14-AR, 14-IR Actual results may differ (N/A) from the information contained in the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 2 17-AR, 17-IR The Company’s actual results or developments may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-AR The actual results or developments of the Company may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-IR Total 11 Nature of thing denied Thing denied Hinge Restriction on denial Risks Frequency Adjective/adjective group Noun/noun group Verb group Adverb Prepositional phrase Adverb group Actual results or performance may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 1 05-AR The actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-AR Actual outcome may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 1 08-IR Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of factors, including … 2 09-AR, 09-IR Actual results may differ materially from expectations discussed in such forward-looking statements and opinions. (N/A) 2 14-AR, 14-IR Actual results may differ (N/A) from the information contained in the forward-looking statements. (N/A) 2 17-AR, 17-IR The Company’s actual results or developments may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-AR The actual results or developments of the Company may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and uncertainties. 1 19-IR Total 11 Table 9: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 7 Addressee Hinge Degree of warning Risks Frequency Pronoun/noun Verb group Adverb Conjunction Clause You are (strongly) cautioned ‘strongly’ in the verb group that reliance on any forward-looking statements involves known and unknown risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 2 13-AR, 13-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and … Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 10 Addressee Hinge Degree of warning Risks Frequency Pronoun/noun Verb group Adverb Conjunction Clause You are (strongly) cautioned ‘strongly’ in the verb group that reliance on any forward-looking statements involves known and unknown risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 2 13-AR, 13-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and … Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 10 Table 9: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 7 Addressee Hinge Degree of warning Risks Frequency Pronoun/noun Verb group Adverb Conjunction Clause You are (strongly) cautioned ‘strongly’ in the verb group that reliance on any forward-looking statements involves known and unknown risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 2 13-AR, 13-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and … Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 10 Addressee Hinge Degree of warning Risks Frequency Pronoun/noun Verb group Adverb Conjunction Clause You are (strongly) cautioned ‘strongly’ in the verb group that reliance on any forward-looking statements involves known and unknown risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Readers are cautioned (N/A) that a number of factors could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 2 13-AR, 13-IR Readers should be cautioned (N/A) that a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and … Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 10 Table 10: Disclaimers: Clauses of local grammar pattern 7 Risks No. of that-clauses Clause Factors affecting claim Nature of factors Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial Noun group Relative clause Verb Noun group Conjunction Verb group Adjective Noun to-infinitive clause Prepositional phrase Adverb Prepositional phrase A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 4 04-AR, 04-IR, 13-AR, 13-IR A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results To differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR A variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and could cause actual results To differ (N/A) materially from the expectations expressed in any of the Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 8 Risks No. of that-clauses Clause Factors affecting claim Nature of factors Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial Noun group Relative clause Verb Noun group Conjunction Verb group Adjective Noun to-infinitive clause Prepositional phrase Adverb Prepositional phrase A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 4 04-AR, 04-IR, 13-AR, 13-IR A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results To differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR A variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and could cause actual results To differ (N/A) materially from the expectations expressed in any of the Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 8 Table 10: Disclaimers: Clauses of local grammar pattern 7 Risks No. of that-clauses Clause Factors affecting claim Nature of factors Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial Noun group Relative clause Verb Noun group Conjunction Verb group Adjective Noun to-infinitive clause Prepositional phrase Adverb Prepositional phrase A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 4 04-AR, 04-IR, 13-AR, 13-IR A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results To differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR A variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and could cause actual results To differ (N/A) materially from the expectations expressed in any of the Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 8 Risks No. of that-clauses Clause Factors affecting claim Nature of factors Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial Noun group Relative clause Verb Noun group Conjunction Verb group Adjective Noun to-infinitive clause Prepositional phrase Adverb Prepositional phrase A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results to differ, in some instances materially, from those anticipated or implied in any forward-looking statement. 4 04-AR, 04-IR, 13-AR, 13-IR A number of factors (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) could cause actual results To differ, in some cases materially, from those implied or anticipated in any forward-looking statement or assessment of risk. 2 10-AR, 10-IR A variety of factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company, and could cause actual results To differ (N/A) materially from the expectations expressed in any of the Company’s forward-looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 8 Table 11: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 8a Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase Such forward- looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, which may cause the actual performance, financial condition, or results of operations of the Company to be materially different ‘materially’ in the to-infinitive clause from any future performance, financial condition, or results of operations implied by such forward- looking statements. 1 07-IR (Clause beginning with these forward- looking statements) … and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainies that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Total 3 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase Such forward- looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, which may cause the actual performance, financial condition, or results of operations of the Company to be materially different ‘materially’ in the to-infinitive clause from any future performance, financial condition, or results of operations implied by such forward- looking statements. 1 07-IR (Clause beginning with these forward- looking statements) … and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainies that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Total 3 Table 11: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 8a Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase Such forward- looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, which may cause the actual performance, financial condition, or results of operations of the Company to be materially different ‘materially’ in the to-infinitive clause from any future performance, financial condition, or results of operations implied by such forward- looking statements. 1 07-IR (Clause beginning with these forward- looking statements) … and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainies that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Total 3 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase Such forward- looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, which may cause the actual performance, financial condition, or results of operations of the Company to be materially different ‘materially’ in the to-infinitive clause from any future performance, financial condition, or results of operations implied by such forward- looking statements. 1 07-IR (Clause beginning with these forward- looking statements) … and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainies that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Total 3 Table 12: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 8b Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun/ noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase (Clause beginning with they referring to these forward- looking statements) … and are subject to (N/A) a number of factors and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially (N/A) 2 02-AR, 02-IR These forward- looking statements are subject to (N/A) risks, uncertainties, and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward- looking statements. 2 12-AR, 12-IR Hinge Nature of risks that verb group adjective group These forward- looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may be general or specific 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun/ noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase (Clause beginning with they referring to these forward- looking statements) … and are subject to (N/A) a number of factors and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially (N/A) 2 02-AR, 02-IR These forward- looking statements are subject to (N/A) risks, uncertainties, and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward- looking statements. 2 12-AR, 12-IR Hinge Nature of risks that verb group adjective group These forward- looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may be general or specific 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Table 12: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 8b Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun/ noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase (Clause beginning with they referring to these forward- looking statements) … and are subject to (N/A) a number of factors and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially (N/A) 2 02-AR, 02-IR These forward- looking statements are subject to (N/A) risks, uncertainties, and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward- looking statements. 2 12-AR, 12-IR Hinge Nature of risks that verb group adjective group These forward- looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may be general or specific 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Adjective Adjective group Noun group Relative clause Hinge Nature of thing denied Thing denied Restriction on denial that/which Verb group Adjective/ adjective group Noun/ noun group to-infinitive clause Adverb Prepositional phrase (Clause beginning with they referring to these forward- looking statements) … and are subject to (N/A) a number of factors and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially (N/A) 2 02-AR, 02-IR These forward- looking statements are subject to (N/A) risks, uncertainties, and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward- looking statements. 2 12-AR, 12-IR Hinge Nature of risks that verb group adjective group These forward- looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may be general or specific 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Table 13: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 9 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective Noun group Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (Clause beginning with any forward-looking statements and opinions)… and therefore involve (N/A) risks and uncertainties. 2 14-AR, 14-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective Noun group Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (Clause beginning with any forward-looking statements and opinions)… and therefore involve (N/A) risks and uncertainties. 2 14-AR, 14-IR Total 6 Table 13: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 9 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective Noun group Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (Clause beginning with any forward-looking statements and opinions)… and therefore involve (N/A) risks and uncertainties. 2 14-AR, 14-IR Total 6 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group (ellipsis) Verb Adjective Noun group Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 10-AR, 10-IR Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. 2 13-AR, 13-IR (Clause beginning with any forward-looking statements and opinions)… and therefore involve (N/A) risks and uncertainties. 2 14-AR, 14-IR Total 6 Table 14: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 10a Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Prepositional phrase Investors should be aware of the investment risks. 2 02-AR, 02-IR Investors shall be aware of the risks relating to investments. 1 17-IR Total 3 Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Prepositional phrase Investors should be aware of the investment risks. 2 02-AR, 02-IR Investors shall be aware of the risks relating to investments. 1 17-IR Total 3 Table 14: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 10a Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Prepositional phrase Investors should be aware of the investment risks. 2 02-AR, 02-IR Investors shall be aware of the risks relating to investments. 1 17-IR Total 3 Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Prepositional phrase Investors should be aware of the investment risks. 2 02-AR, 02-IR Investors shall be aware of the risks relating to investments. 1 17-IR Total 3 Table 15: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 10b Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Relative clause Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Use Restriction on use Hinge Risks 2 that Adjective Noun Preposition Conjunction Noun Prepositional phrase Verb group Noun group Investors should be aware that undue reliance on or use of such information may lead to risks of investment. 08-AR, 08-IR Total 2 Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Relative clause Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Use Restriction on use Hinge Risks 2 that Adjective Noun Preposition Conjunction Noun Prepositional phrase Verb group Noun group Investors should be aware that undue reliance on or use of such information may lead to risks of investment. 08-AR, 08-IR Total 2 Table 15: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 10b Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Relative clause Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Use Restriction on use Hinge Risks 2 that Adjective Noun Preposition Conjunction Noun Prepositional phrase Verb group Noun group Investors should be aware that undue reliance on or use of such information may lead to risks of investment. 08-AR, 08-IR Total 2 Addressee Hinge Understanding of risks Risks Frequency Noun Verb group Adjective Relative clause Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Use Restriction on use Hinge Risks 2 that Adjective Noun Preposition Conjunction Noun Prepositional phrase Verb group Noun group Investors should be aware that undue reliance on or use of such information may lead to risks of investment. 08-AR, 08-IR Total 2 Table 16: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 11 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of claim carrier Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Prepositional phrase Adjective Adjective Noun group These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR These forward-looking statements are, by their names, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-AR These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 4 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of claim carrier Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Prepositional phrase Adjective Adjective Noun group These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR These forward-looking statements are, by their names, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-AR These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 4 Table 16: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 11 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of claim carrier Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Prepositional phrase Adjective Adjective Noun group These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR These forward-looking statements are, by their names, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-AR These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 4 Claim carrier Hinge Nature of claim carrier Nature of risks Risks Frequency Noun group Verb Prepositional phrase Adjective Adjective Noun group These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties. 2 01-AR, 01-IR These forward-looking statements are, by their names, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-AR These forward-looking statements are, by their nature, subject to significant risks and uncertainties … (clause) 1 17-IR Total 4 Table 17: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 12 Report Hinge Nature of claim Claim carrier Frequency Noun group and existential there Verb/verb group Adjective Noun group Relative clause Hinge Risks that/which Verb Noun group This Annual Report may contain (N/A) forward-looking statements and opinions that involve risks and uncertainties. 1 05-AR Hinge Risks verb adjective noun group There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-AR There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-IR Total 3 Report Hinge Nature of claim Claim carrier Frequency Noun group and existential there Verb/verb group Adjective Noun group Relative clause Hinge Risks that/which Verb Noun group This Annual Report may contain (N/A) forward-looking statements and opinions that involve risks and uncertainties. 1 05-AR Hinge Risks verb adjective noun group There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-AR There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-IR Total 3 Table 17: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 12 Report Hinge Nature of claim Claim carrier Frequency Noun group and existential there Verb/verb group Adjective Noun group Relative clause Hinge Risks that/which Verb Noun group This Annual Report may contain (N/A) forward-looking statements and opinions that involve risks and uncertainties. 1 05-AR Hinge Risks verb adjective noun group There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-AR There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-IR Total 3 Report Hinge Nature of claim Claim carrier Frequency Noun group and existential there Verb/verb group Adjective Noun group Relative clause Hinge Risks that/which Verb Noun group This Annual Report may contain (N/A) forward-looking statements and opinions that involve risks and uncertainties. 1 05-AR Hinge Risks verb adjective noun group There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-AR There … in this report are certain forward-looking statements (in this report) made on the basis of subjective assumptions and judgments on future policies and economic conditions, which are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. 1 08-IR Total 3 Table 18: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 13a Addressee Hinge Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Adverb/ conjunction Pronoun/ noun Verb group Adverb Adjective Noun Prepositional phrase Accordingly, you should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on any forward-looking information or statements. 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 02-AR, 02-IR (Clause)… and readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on the Company’s forward- looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Addressee Hinge Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Adverb/ conjunction Pronoun/ noun Verb group Adverb Adjective Noun Prepositional phrase Accordingly, you should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on any forward-looking information or statements. 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 02-AR, 02-IR (Clause)… and readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on the Company’s forward- looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Table 18: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 13a Addressee Hinge Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Adverb/ conjunction Pronoun/ noun Verb group Adverb Adjective Noun Prepositional phrase Accordingly, you should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on any forward-looking information or statements. 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 02-AR, 02-IR (Clause)… and readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on the Company’s forward- looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Addressee Hinge Degree of dependence Dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Adverb/ conjunction Pronoun/ noun Verb group Adverb Adjective Noun Prepositional phrase Accordingly, you should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on any forward-looking information or statements. 2 01-AR, 01-IR (N/A) Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and … (clause) 2 02-AR, 02-IR (Clause)… and readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance on the Company’s forward- looking statements. 2 18-AR, 18-IR Total 6 Table 19: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 13b Addressee Hinge Dependence Degree of dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Conjunction Pronoun Verb group Adverb to-infinitive clause Adjective Prepositional phrase (Clause)… and You are cautioned not to place (undue) reliance ‘undue’ in the to-infinitive clause on such statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Total 2 Addressee Hinge Dependence Degree of dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Conjunction Pronoun Verb group Adverb to-infinitive clause Adjective Prepositional phrase (Clause)… and You are cautioned not to place (undue) reliance ‘undue’ in the to-infinitive clause on such statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Total 2 Table 19: Disclaimers: Local grammar pattern 13b Addressee Hinge Dependence Degree of dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Conjunction Pronoun Verb group Adverb to-infinitive clause Adjective Prepositional phrase (Clause)… and You are cautioned not to place (undue) reliance ‘undue’ in the to-infinitive clause on such statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Total 2 Addressee Hinge Dependence Degree of dependence Restriction on dependence Frequency Conjunction Pronoun Verb group Adverb to-infinitive clause Adjective Prepositional phrase (Clause)… and You are cautioned not to place (undue) reliance ‘undue’ in the to-infinitive clause on such statements. 2 04-AR, 04-IR Total 2 Table 20: Realizations of the canonical form Pattern Pronoun/noun/noun group Verb/verb group Determiner/adverb Adjective Noun Frequency Pattern 1a Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees, or agents of the Group assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 The Group, the Directors, employees, and agents of the Group assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b HSBC makes no (N/A) commitment 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 13a You should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Total 15 Pattern Pronoun/noun/noun group Verb/verb group Determiner/adverb Adjective Noun Frequency Pattern 1a Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees, or agents of the Group assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 The Group, the Directors, employees, and agents of the Group assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b HSBC makes no (N/A) commitment 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 13a You should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Total 15 Table 20: Realizations of the canonical form Pattern Pronoun/noun/noun group Verb/verb group Determiner/adverb Adjective Noun Frequency Pattern 1a Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees, or agents of the Group assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 The Group, the Directors, employees, and agents of the Group assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b HSBC makes no (N/A) commitment 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 13a You should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Total 15 Pattern Pronoun/noun/noun group Verb/verb group Determiner/adverb Adjective Noun Frequency Pattern 1a Neither the Group nor the Directors, employees, or agents of the Group assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 The Group, the Directors, employees, and agents of the Group assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b HSBC makes no (N/A) commitment 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 The Company undertakes no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 13a You should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Investors should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Readers should not place ‘not’ in the verb group undue reliance 2 Total 15 Table 21: Realizations of the variant ‘noun group + verb + adverb + noun group’ of Pattern 2 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) Verb Adverb Noun group Frequency Pattern 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 Total 6 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) Verb Adverb Noun group Frequency Pattern 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 Total 6 Table 21: Realizations of the variant ‘noun group + verb + adverb + noun group’ of Pattern 2 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) Verb Adverb Noun group Frequency Pattern 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 Total 6 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) Verb Adverb Noun group Frequency Pattern 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 These forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events and are not a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of future events and are not a guarantee of future performance. 1 The forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s current views with respect of to future events and are not a guarantee of future performance nor … (clause) 1 Total 6 Table 22: Realizations of the variant ‘noun group + do not + verb + (adjective) + noun group’ of Pattern 3 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) do not Verb Adjective Noun group Frequency Pattern 3 Plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 Plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Total 6 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) do not Verb Adjective Noun group Frequency Pattern 3 Plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 Plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Total 6 Table 22: Realizations of the variant ‘noun group + do not + verb + (adjective) + noun group’ of Pattern 3 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) do not Verb Adjective Noun group Frequency Pattern 3 Plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 Plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Total 6 Pattern Noun group (Intervening words) do not Verb Adjective Noun group Frequency Pattern 3 Plans mentioned (N/A) do not constitute (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 Such statements (N/A) do not constitute actual commitments to investors. 2 Plans, if involved, do not constitute substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Total 6 Table 23: Realizations of the variant ‘adjective + noun + verb/verb group + determiner + noun group’ of Pattern 5 Pattern Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group Frequency Pattern 5 Past performance can be no guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 Past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 3 Pattern Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group Frequency Pattern 5 Past performance can be no guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 Past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 3 Table 23: Realizations of the variant ‘adjective + noun + verb/verb group + determiner + noun group’ of Pattern 5 Pattern Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group Frequency Pattern 5 Past performance can be no guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 Past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 3 Pattern Adjective Noun Verb/verb group Determiner Noun group Frequency Pattern 5 Past performance can be no guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 Past performance is no guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 3 Table 24: Realizations of canonical functional categories in Patterns 1, 2, 3, and 5 Pattern Hinge Determiner/adverb Intervening word Thing denied Frequency Pattern 1a verb any/no (N/A) noun assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 (N = 3) assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b verb no (N/A) noun makes no (N/A) commitment 2 (N = 6) undertakes no (N/A) obligation 4 Pattern 2 verb not (N/A) noun group (N = 6) are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance. 2 Pattern 3 do not verb not adjective noun group (N = 6) do not constitute ‘not’ in do not (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not actual commitments to investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Pattern 5 verb/verb group no (N/A) Noun group (N = 3) can be no (N/A) guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 is no (N/A) guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 24 Pattern Hinge Determiner/adverb Intervening word Thing denied Frequency Pattern 1a verb any/no (N/A) noun assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 (N = 3) assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b verb no (N/A) noun makes no (N/A) commitment 2 (N = 6) undertakes no (N/A) obligation 4 Pattern 2 verb not (N/A) noun group (N = 6) are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance. 2 Pattern 3 do not verb not adjective noun group (N = 6) do not constitute ‘not’ in do not (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not actual commitments to investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Pattern 5 verb/verb group no (N/A) Noun group (N = 3) can be no (N/A) guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 is no (N/A) guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 24 Table 24: Realizations of canonical functional categories in Patterns 1, 2, 3, and 5 Pattern Hinge Determiner/adverb Intervening word Thing denied Frequency Pattern 1a verb any/no (N/A) noun assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 (N = 3) assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b verb no (N/A) noun makes no (N/A) commitment 2 (N = 6) undertakes no (N/A) obligation 4 Pattern 2 verb not (N/A) noun group (N = 6) are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance. 2 Pattern 3 do not verb not adjective noun group (N = 6) do not constitute ‘not’ in do not (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not actual commitments to investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Pattern 5 verb/verb group no (N/A) Noun group (N = 3) can be no (N/A) guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 is no (N/A) guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 24 Pattern Hinge Determiner/adverb Intervening word Thing denied Frequency Pattern 1a verb any/no (N/A) noun assume (a) any (N/A) obligation 1 (N = 3) assume (a) no (N/A) obligation 2 Pattern 1b verb no (N/A) noun makes no (N/A) commitment 2 (N = 6) undertakes no (N/A) obligation 4 Pattern 2 verb not (N/A) noun group (N = 6) are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance or developments. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of the Company’s future performance. 2 are not (N/A) a guarantee of future performance. 2 Pattern 3 do not verb not adjective noun group (N = 6) do not constitute ‘not’ in do not (N/A) a commitment by the Bank to its investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not actual commitments to investors. 2 do not constitute ‘not’ in do not substantial commitment to investors, and … (clause) 2 Pattern 5 verb/verb group no (N/A) Noun group (N = 3) can be no (N/A) guarantee of future results of the Group. 1 is no (N/A) guarantee of the future results of the Group. 2 Total 24 Table 25: Realizations of the ‘hinge’ in all patterns Realizations of ‘hinge’ Frequency are 15 could cause 10 are cautioned 6 do (not) + constitute 6 reflect 6 does (not) + intend 4 involve 4 should be cautioned 4 undertakes 4 assume 3 affect 2 is 2 makes 2 required 2 can be 1 may cause 1 Total 72 Realizations of ‘hinge’ Frequency are 15 could cause 10 are cautioned 6 do (not) + constitute 6 reflect 6 does (not) + intend 4 involve 4 should be cautioned 4 undertakes 4 assume 3 affect 2 is 2 makes 2 required 2 can be 1 may cause 1 Total 72 Table 25: Realizations of the ‘hinge’ in all patterns Realizations of ‘hinge’ Frequency are 15 could cause 10 are cautioned 6 do (not) + constitute 6 reflect 6 does (not) + intend 4 involve 4 should be cautioned 4 undertakes 4 assume 3 affect 2 is 2 makes 2 required 2 can be 1 may cause 1 Total 72 Realizations of ‘hinge’ Frequency are 15 could cause 10 are cautioned 6 do (not) + constitute 6 reflect 6 does (not) + intend 4 involve 4 should be cautioned 4 undertakes 4 assume 3 affect 2 is 2 makes 2 required 2 can be 1 may cause 1 Total 72 Functional categories of disclaimers Findings show that 84 of the 101 instances (83.1 per cent) of disclaimers are expressed in 13 patterns of local grammar. The remaining 17 instances of disclaimers consist of some functional categories of disclaimers, and they are used to convey the meaning of disclaiming in disclaimer sections in the reports; however, they do not conform to any of the 13 patterns. Therefore, they will not be discussed in this article. In these 13 patterns, 18 discourse functions are identified, such as the participants involved (‘addressee’, ‘authority/regulation’, and ‘creator of disclaimer’), aspects of the company (‘performance’, ‘nature of performance’, and ‘report’), the claim and opinion expressed (‘claim carrier’, ‘factors affecting claim’, ‘opinion’, ‘degree of dependence/warning’, ‘nature of claim/claim carrier/factors’, and ‘restriction on opinion’), investment risks (‘risks’ and ‘nature of risks’), the thing disclaimed (‘thing denied’, ‘nature of thing denied’, and ‘restriction on denial’), and the addressee’s dependence on and their use of the information in the claim (‘dependence’, ‘use’, and ‘restriction on dependence/use’). Table 1 presents the 18 functional categories of disclaimers and their discourse functions. Patterns of local grammar of disclaimers Thirteen patterns of local grammar of disclaimers have been identified, with four patterns (Patterns 1, 8, 10, and 13) each having two sub-patterns. In Tables 2–19, the language patterns are presented together with the mapping discourse functional categories. Most of the patterns are realized by similar stretches of language, suggesting that the writers of these disclaimers might have developed and adopted certain conventions and styles when presenting legal statements to perform a disclaiming function in the company reports. Language pattern 1: noun/noun group + verb + determiner + noun + to-infinitive clause(s) + [type one] conjunction + determiner + noun clause OR [type two] prepositional phrase/adverb group (N = 9) Pattern 1 can be divided into two types (Tables 2 and 3). In Pattern 1, the subject is a noun group referring to the company which creates the disclaimers, termed the ‘creator of disclaimer’. The ‘creator’ is realized in different ways: with conjunctions neither … nor … (neither the Group nor the Directors, employees, or agents of the Group), a noun group that refers to a group of people (the Group, the Directors, employees, and agents of the Group), a company name (HSBC), and the noun group the Company. The verb of Pattern 1a is assume, while those of 1b are makes and undertakes. The legal responsibility represented by the ‘thing denied’ is indicated by a noun obligation or commitment, which is negated by a determiner any or no. The to-infinitive clauses following the ‘thing denied’ obligation and commitment, termed ‘restriction on denial’, provide details about the nature of the legal duty, which is associated with the accuracy of the forward-looking statements described in the reports. In Pattern 1a, each to-infinitive clause is connected with another ‘thing denied’ by and. The ‘thing denied’, which denotes legal responsibility, is realized by a noun clause containing liability, negated by a determiner any or no (any/no liability in the event that any of the forward-looking statements or opinions do/does not materialize or turn out to be incorrect). In Pattern 1b, however, there is only one ‘thing denied’, which is realized by a noun obligation or commitment, preceded with the determiner no. The ‘situation’, found in four of the six instances, refers to the situation in which the accuracy of information disclosed in the reports may not be valid. It is realized by a prepositional phrase (after the date of any forward-looking statements or as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise). Language pattern 2: noun group + verb + noun group + prepositional phrase + adjective + noun + conjunction + verb + adverb + noun group (N = 6) (Table 4) Pattern 2 (N = 6) begins with the noun group the/these forward-looking statements, followed by the verb reflect, noun group the Group’s/Company’s (current) views, prepositional phrase (as of the date hereof) with respect to, adjective future, noun events, conjunction and, verb are, adverb not, and finally a noun group which contains a guarantee of future performance (or developments). This pattern explicitly indicates the presence of forward-looking statements in the reports, which are descriptions about the future business performance from the perspective of the company, and the fact that the company does not promise that the plans, estimations, and expectations reported will be materialized in the future, and that the company will not be legally responsible for any future events. The legal responsibility, indicated by a noun group containing a guarantee, which realizes the ‘thing denied’, is negated by not. The combination of not and a guarantee enables the companies to disclaim the ‘opinion’, which they express and claim in the forward-looking statements in the reports. The forward-looking statements carry the claims of the companies, and the noun group the/these forward-looking statements is termed the ‘claim carrier’. In two instances, the ‘claim carrier’ is preceded with in addition. Language pattern 3: (determiner) + (adjective) + noun/noun group + (if-clause) + do not + verb + (adjective) + noun group (N = 6) (Table 5) Pattern 3 mainly concerns the assertion that the future plans or the statements about future events described in the reports are not to be regarded as commitment or promises by a particular company to its investors. In four instances, future qualifies the ‘claim carrier’, realized by plans (mentioned) and such statements, highlighting the company plans described in the reports. The claims conveyed by the plans and statements are disclaimed by do not constitute, the ‘nature of thing denied’, and the ‘thing denied’. As with Patterns 1, 2, 4, and 5, the disclaiming function of any legal responsibility involves the combination of an element of negation (do not constitute) and the ‘thing denied’. The ‘nature of thing denied’, realized by an adjective actual or substantial, pre-modifies the legal responsibility represented by the ‘thing denied’ in a noun group containing commitment(s). This functional category is not found in previous patterns. Language pattern 4: (adverb) + (noun group) + noun group + does not + verb + to-infinitive clause(s) (N = 4) (Table 6) Pattern 4 is semantically similar to Pattern 1 in that it concerns the accuracy of the forward-looking statements described in the company reports. In both patterns, the subject is a noun group referring to the ‘creator of disclaimer’. Pattern 4 differs from Pattern 1 in the discourse function of the to-infinitive clause. The to-infinitive clause in Pattern 4 describes the responsibility of updating the forward-looking statements, that is, the ‘thing denied’; that in Pattern 1 is the ‘restriction on denial’, which provides further information about the ‘thing denied’. Language pattern 5: noun group + verb + adjective + prepositional phrase + conjunction + adjective + noun + verb/verb group + determiner + noun group (N = 3) (Table 7) Comprised of two clauses, Pattern 5 describes the performance of the company (performance and the results of operations of the Group) as historical in nature and the performance in the past as no guarantee of future results of the Group. Historical in nature and past are used to specify the ‘performance’ of the company, highlighting its quality and nature. Pattern 5 allows the company, that is the Group, to state that what happened in the past about the company does not necessarily contribute to the performance of the company in the future and, in a more indirect way, that investment risks are involved in all investments. The ‘thing denied’, realized by the noun group which contains guarantee is negated by the determiner no. The combination of negation and the ‘thing denied’ indicates that the company will not be legally responsible for any future events. Language pattern 6: adjective/adjective group + noun/noun group + verb group + (adverb) + prepositional phrase + (adverb group) (N = 11) (Table 8) Pattern 6 is the most frequent (N = 11) among the 13 patterns. It begins with an adjective or adjective group (the/the Company’s) actual, followed by noun or noun group outcome, results (or performance), and results or developments (of the Company), verb group may differ, adverb materially (N = 10), and prepositional phrase containing forward-looking statements. In 4 of the 11 instances, the prepositional phrase is followed by an adverb group containing as a result of factors (and uncertainties). Pattern 6 is similar to most of the relative clauses of Patterns 7 and 8 in having in common ‘hinge’, ‘nature of thing denied’, ‘thing denied’, and ‘restriction on denial’. The relationship between these four functional categories and the ‘risks’ is different in that the functional categories are used as adjacent elements, functioning at the same level as the ‘risks’, although the ‘risks’ category is absent in some cases. In contrast, in Patterns 7 and 8, the functional categories are constituents of the ‘risks’, embedded in the relative clauses, except for two instances in Pattern 8b. Language pattern 7: pronoun/noun + verb group + (adverb) + conjunction + clause (N = 10) (Table 9) In Pattern 7, the subject you or readers, the ‘addressee’, of the passive verb refers to shareholders, potential investors, and other stakeholders who are advised to be very careful about their investment, and specifically warned of the risks and uncertainties which may be involved in their investment, which is one of the functions performed by disclaimers (McLaren-Hankin 2008). The meaning of the warning is conveyed by a verb group which contains caution in its passive form (are cautioned and should be cautioned), followed by the conjunction that and a clause. In 2 of the 10 instances, strongly qualifies are cautioned. The verb group are cautioned is connected with a prepositional phrase which refers to risks of investment in one annual report and one interim report examined (readers are specially cautioned on all kinds of risks disclosed in this annual/half year report, including but not limited to the risks set out in the ‘Risk Management’ of the annual report) (N = 2). The adverb specially is used to qualify are cautioned in these two instances. The clauses in Pattern 6 express the risks and uncertainties in investment, and are termed the ‘risks’. The clauses, except the first two instances (that reliance on any forward-looking statements involves known and unknown risks and uncertainties), form a separate language pattern. Clauses of Pattern 7: noun group + (relative clause) + (verb) + (noun group) + (conjunction) + verb group + adjective + noun + to-infinitive clause + (prepositional phrase) + adverb + prepositional phrase (N = 8) (Table 10) As a separate pattern, the eight instances of clause indicate a cause-and-effect relationship in investment, manifested by could cause. The cause or reason, termed the ‘factors affecting claim’, is realized by a number/variety of factors, whereas the effect or consequence brought by the ‘factors’ is the difference between the actual results of the companies (in terms of their future performance, operations and developments) and those anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements or the expectations expressed in the forward-looking statements in the reports. The factors which may result in such a difference are post-modified by many of which are beyond the Company’s control (N = 2) and affect the performance, operations, and results of the Company (N = 2), termed the ‘nature of factors’, used to inform the readers or remind them of both the limited power of the companies in developing their business in the future and the complexity of investment decision-making. To sum up, in Pattern 7, are (strongly) cautioned and should be cautioned combined with the meaning about investment risks expressed in the clauses explicitly caution readers about potential investment risks. The ‘reminders’ and ‘warnings’, which indicate that the financial losses of the companies may not be predictable and controllable, provide opportunities for the companies to disclaim their responsibilities for achieving any positive results anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements. Language pattern 8: [type one] noun group (implied) + verb + adjective group + noun group + relative clause OR [type two] noun group + verb + adjective + (adjective group) + noun group + relative clause (N = 9) Patterns 8a and 8b (Tables 11 and 12) are similar in that they contain four functional categories: the ‘claim carrier’, ‘hinge’, ‘nature of risks’, and ‘risks’ and differ from each other in that different lexico-grammatical features are used to connect the ‘claim carrier’ and the ‘nature of risks’. In Pattern 8, the subject is a noun group containing forward-looking statements, termed the ‘claim carrier’. In Pattern 8a, the noun group is followed by involve, known and unknown, a noun group about risks, uncertainties, and factors which may affect the companies’ future performance (risks and uncertainty and risks, uncertainties, and other factors), and a relative clause which shows a potential cause-and-effect relationship in investment, characterized by most of the functional categories of the clauses of Pattern 6. In Pattern 8b, the noun group is followed by are subject to and other linguistic elements found in Pattern 8a. The adjective group known and unknown, termed the ‘nature of risks’, is used in only two instances of Pattern 8b. All the six instances of Pattern 8b have a noun group that denotes risks and uncertainties in investment (a number of factors and uncertainties, risks, uncertainties, and other factors beyond the Company’s control and risks and uncertainties), post-modified by a relative clause. As with Pattern 7, Pattern 8 is concerned with risks in investment. However, the subject of this pattern is these/such forward-looking statements (the ‘claim carrier’), whereas that of Pattern 7 is you or readers (the ‘addressee’). Although both patterns can be regarded as ‘reminders’ and ‘warnings’ regarding investment risks, the meaning of Pattern 8 seems to be conveyed in a more factual way. Uncertainty (uncertainties), which carries a negative connotation, is found in all instances of Pattern 8; whereas factors, which has a neutral meaning, is used in Pattern 7. The presence of risk and uncertainty (uncertainties) of Pattern 8 enriches the meaning of the ‘risks’, and hence enables the meaning of the whole pattern to be conveyed in a more straightforward way. A prepositional phrase beyond the Company’s control is used to post-modify risks, uncertainties, and other factors in two of the instances of Pattern 8b (note beyond the Company’s control in Pattern 7). This prepositional phrase serves to emphasize the possibility of investment loss of the target reader, despite the fact that the company has developed strategies to manage its business. Relative clauses of Pattern 8:that/which + verb group + adjective/adjective group + noun/noun group + to-infinitive clause + adverb + (prepositional phrase) All the nine relative clauses of Pattern 8 begin with a relative pronoun that or which to qualify the preceding noun group with the meaning of factors, risks, and uncertainties in investment. Seven of the nine instances can be regarded as a separate pattern (see Tables 11 and 12). Similar to Pattern 7, they contain, in the same order, ‘hinge’, ‘nature of thing denied’, ‘thing denied’, and ‘restriction on denial’. Different from Pattern 7, the ‘thing denied’ in Pattern 8 does not have a prepositional phrase between the to-infinitive clause and the adverb, and the noun group in the ‘thing denied’ is realized not only by results but also various noun groups (performance, events, and financial condition), and thus enabling readers to understand that risks, uncertainties, and other factors may affect different aspects of the company. The two instances of relative clauses of Pattern 8b which do not form a separate pattern comprise relative pronoun that, verb group may be, and adjective group general or specific, assigned the functional category of the ‘nature of risks’. Language pattern 9: noun group (implied) + verb + adjective + noun group (N = 6) (Table 13) The subject of Pattern 9 is a noun group: forward-looking statements or any forward-looking statements and opinions. In two of the six instances, the noun group is implied. The noun group is followed by the verb involve, the adjective inherent (N = 4), and another noun group risks and uncertainties. Semantically, Pattern 9, same as Pattern 8, comprises the ‘claim carrier’, ‘hinge’, ‘nature of risks’, and ‘risks’. The verb involve occurs in all the instances of Pattern 9 and those of Pattern 8a. In Pattern 9, the ‘risks’, however, is realized by the noun group risks and uncertainties rather than a relative clause. Language pattern 10: noun + verb group + adjective + [type one] prepositional phrase OR [type two] relative clause (N = 5) The two types of Pattern 10 differ in the realizations, namely a prepositional phrase versus a relative clause, of the final functional category ‘risks’ (Tables 14 and 15). In Pattern 10, the subject ‘addressee’ refers to investors and other stakeholders. As with Pattern 7, Pattern 10 could be considered advice, a warning, or a reminder from the companies to the ‘addressee’ about ‘risks’. The ‘advice’ is mainly represented by caution (in its passive form) in Pattern 7 and aware in Pattern 10. Through the ‘advice’, the companies disclaim their responsibilities for any possible damage or loss of investors due to the risks in investment. Pattern 10, together with 6–9 and 11–12, with the presence of the ‘risks’, demonstrates how the meaning of risks in investment could be conveyed by various linguistic constructions in company reports. This ‘advice’ about how to interpret the forward-looking statements entails that there may be an undesirable consequence if the target readers do not take the ‘advice’, that is if they place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements. As will be seen in the final pattern below, the meaning of ‘advice’ from the companies can also be conveyed by other functional categories, namely ‘dependence’, ‘degree of dependence’, and ‘restriction on dependence’. Language pattern 11: noun group + verb + prepositional phrase + adjective + adjective + noun group (N = 4) (Table 16) Pattern 11 begins with the noun group these forward-looking statements, followed by the verb are, prepositional phrase by their names/nature, adjective subject to, another adjective significant, and another noun group risks and uncertainties. Similar to Patterns 8 and 9, it is characterized by the functional categories of ‘claim carrier’, ‘hinge’, ‘nature of risks’, and ‘risks’, but in Pattern 11, the ‘nature of claim carrier’ (by their names/nature) is used to provide details about the ‘claim carrier’ (these forward-looking statements). Language pattern 12: noun group and existential there + verb/verb group + (adjective) + noun group + relative clause (N = 3) (Table 17) In Pattern 12, there are two subjects: this Annual Report (N = 1) and there (N = 2). The functional category ‘report’ occurs in all the three instances, realized by the noun group this Annual Report (N = 1) and the prepositional phrase in this report within the second noun group (N = 2). The verb or verb groups are realized by may contain (N = 1) and are (N = 2). In two of the three instances, the adjective certain is used. All the three instances involve a relative clause, which post-modifies forward-looking statements in the second noun group, termed the ‘claim carrier’. The clause provides the meaning of the ‘risks’ (risks and uncertainties and risks, uncertainties, and assumptions) for the forward-looking statements. This shows a close connection between the ‘claim carrier’ and the ‘risks’, which has been revealed in Patterns 8, 9, and 11. Language pattern 13: pronoun/noun + verb group + adverb + [type one] adjective + noun + prepositional phrase OR [type two] to-infinitive clause + adjective + prepositional phrase (N = 8) Tables 18 and 19 Pattern 13 is semantically similar to Patterns 7 and 10, in that it indicates the ‘advice’ of the companies to their shareholders or potential investors and, at the same time, enables the companies to disclaim what they have claimed in the reports. However, the adverb not is used in Pattern 13. Patterns 13a and 13b both comprise ‘addressee’, ‘hinge’, ‘degree of dependence’, ‘dependence’, and ‘restriction on dependence’, but with a different sequence. Patterns 13a and 13b begin with the ‘addressee’, realized by you and investors or readers. In Pattern 13a, the pronoun or noun is followed by the verb group should not place (consisting of the modal verb should and the adverb not), adjective undue, noun reliance, and a prepositional phrase formed by the preposition on and a noun group which refers to the forward-looking information or statements in the reports (on any forward-looking information or statements and on these/the Company’s forward-looking statements). In Pattern 13b, you is followed by a verb group which contains caution in its passive form (are cautioned), which is also found in Pattern 7, adverb not, to-infinitive clause with adjective undue (to place undue reliance), and prepositional phrase on such statements. All the eight instances of Pattern 13, as well as the two instances of Pattern 10b, involve the use of the adjective undue (the ‘degree of dependence’), noun reliance (the ‘dependence’), and a prepositional phrase referring to forward-looking information or statements (the ‘restriction on dependence’). In Pattern 13, the meaning of ‘advice’ is largely conveyed by should not place undue reliance in the first type and are cautioned not to place undue reliance in the second type. Apart from its active form in Pattern 13, the verb place is used in its passive form to indicate the meaning that the target readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. (These statements are based on current plans, estimates and projections, and therefore undue reliance should not be placed on them) (N = 2). Again, the adverb not is used in this passive construction of ‘advice’. In sum, the 101 disclaimers examined are expressed in 13 patterns of local grammar and 18 discourse functions. Patterns 1–5, with frequencies of occurrence from 9 to 3, combine the ‘thing denied’ and the meaning of negation (‘no’, ‘not’, or ‘any); Patterns 6–12, with frequencies of occurrence from 11 to 3, involve ‘risks’. Syntactically, risks are realized by adverb groups (Pattern 6), clauses (Patterns 7 and 8), and noun groups (Patterns 9, 11, and 12). ‘Risks’ and ‘understanding of risks’ are used together in Pattern 10, with the discourse function of ‘understanding of risks’ specific to Pattern 10. The last pattern, Pattern 13, is unique with three discourse functions ‘dependence', ‘degree of dependence', and ‘restriction on dependence'. Canonical pattern and its variants A comparative analysis of the 13 language patterns of disclaimers was conducted to identify the canonical pattern, with all the rest of its instantiations regarded as its variants (Sinclair et al. 2004), with a view to describing the prototype of the linguistic elements of disclaimers in company reports. Discussion will focus on lexico-grammar followed by discourse functions. Findings show that the pattern of ‘pronoun/noun/noun group + verb/verb group + determiner or adverb + (adjective) + noun’ has the highest frequency (N = 15), and is therefore considered the canonical form of all the patterns (Table 20). This pattern is found in Patterns 1a and 1b (N = 9) and Pattern 13a (N = 6). In Pattern 13a, the adjective undue is inserted between the verb group with not (should not place) and the second noun reliance in all the six instances. Three variants of the canonical pattern are found (Tables 21–23), namely (i) ‘noun group + verb + adverb + noun group’ of Pattern 2 (N = 6), (ii) ‘noun group + do not + verb + (adjective) + noun group’ of Pattern 3 (N = 6), and (iii) ‘adjective + noun + verb/verb group + determiner + noun group’ of Pattern 5 (N = 3). (N = 15 in total.) Similar to the canonical pattern, these variants comprise two noun groups (or one noun and one noun group) and a verb or verb group with an element of negation (realized by a determiner or adverb). In two of these variant forms, some intervening words are found: in Pattern 2, between the first noun group and the verb are (N = 6); in Pattern 3, between the first noun group and do not (N = 2). In addition, an adjective is used in Patterns 3 and 5: in Pattern 3, actual and substantial between the verb constitute and the second noun group containing commitment(s) in four of the six instances; in Pattern 5, past pre-modifies performance in all the three instances. In terms of discourse functions of disclaimers, a closer examination of the canonical pattern (N = 15) and its three variants (N = 15) suggests that the combination of the ‘hinge’ with an element of negation (any or no or not) and the ‘thing denied’ could be considered canonical functional categories. This combination is found in all the instances of Pattern 1 (N = 9), Pattern 2 (N = 6), Pattern 3 (N = 6), and Pattern 5 (N = 3) (Table 24). Table 24 shows that the ‘hinge’ is realized by different verbs and verb groups (is, are, assume, makes, undertakes, can be, and do + constitute). The ‘thing denied’ is realized by a noun or noun group containing guarantee, future performance, obligation, and commitment(s), which refers to the companies’ legal responsibility and the things which may or may not happen in the future. The use of these nouns and noun groups acknowledges the presence of the claims relating to the future, i.e. the forward-looking statements, in the reports. Of all the 18 functional categories identified in this study, the ‘hinge’ is the most frequent across all the 13 language patterns. Realizations (N = 16) of ‘hinge’, sorted by frequency in descending order, are presented in Table 25. Of the 16 realizations of the ‘hinge’, the verb are is the most common (N = 15). It serves as a main verb in Patterns 2, 5, and 8b, as follows: (1) Pattern 2 (N = 6) (see Table 4) Example: These forward-looking statements reflect the Group’s views as of the date hereof with respect to future events and [these forward-looking statements] are not a guarantee of future performance or developments. (01-AR, 01-IR) In Pattern 2, are links the ‘claim carrier’, functioning as the subject (these forward-looking statements), with not and the ‘thing denied’ (a guarantee of future performance or developments), which is a description of these forward-looking statements. (2) Pattern 5 (N = 3) (see Table 7) Example: The performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report are historical in nature and past performance can be no guarantee of future results of the Group. (05-AR) In Pattern 5, are connects the ‘performance’, functioning as the subject of the verb (the performance and the results of operations of the Group during the past years as contained in this Annual Report), and the ‘nature of performance’ (historical and in nature. (3) Pattern 8b (N = 6) (see Table 12) Example: These forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. (12-AR, 12-IR) Finally, in Pattern 8b, are links the ‘claim carrier’, functioning as the subject (these forward-looking statements) with subject to, and the ‘risks' (risks, uncertainties and other factors beyond the Company’s control which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements). CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS The study has extended the concept of local grammar to the study of a specific discourse type in business and professional communication, affirming Hunston and Sinclair’s (2000) view that analyses of texts of particular language use which adopt a local grammar approach would be more simple, precise, and useful than using a general grammar. It has also outlined and illustrated an analytical procedure to provide a means of interpreting the local grammar of specific language use. Examination of 101 disclaimers in company reports has identified a range of local grammar patterns, described in terms of the linguistic elements that represent the range of lexico-grammatical, semantic, and discourse functional features that writers use to disclaim legal liability and to deny legal claims in company reports. Based on frequency, the study has also identified the canonical pattern, together with its variants, of the local grammar of disclaimers, which represents the prototype of the linguistic elements of disclaimers, in company reports. While the notion of a canonical form of units of meaning resolves the problem of how to relate a finite set of meaningful linguistic elements to the infinite set of meanings in use (Sinclair 2004), the idea of a canonical pattern of a local grammar enhances the simplicity, preciseness, and usefulness of analyses of texts of particular language use (Hunston and Sinclair 2000). The canonical pattern of disclaimers identified in this study; that is, ‘pronoun/noun/noun group + verb/verb group + determiner or adverb + (adjective) + noun’, with the corresponding discourse functions, can serve as the basic reference point for producing and understanding disclaimers in company reports. Through adopting a local grammar approach to the study of the language, meaning, and function of disclaimers in company interim and annual reports, the study has further demonstrated that local grammars can enhance the descriptions of language, particularly in quantifying expressions of meaning in different registers (Bednarek 2008). Future studies can examine the linguistic elements of disclaimers in other professional, organizational, management, and corporate genres and contexts (Bhatia 2014), such as emails, websites, press releases, advertisements, and reports and publications of the government and companies. The findings of the study, particularly the canonical form of disclaimers, would be useful for professionals in business, financial services, law, and public relations not only for awareness raising but also offering analysed samples of real-life and contextualized disclaimers for professional development purposes. REFERENCES Allen C. 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McH. , Jones S. , Daley R. , Krishnamurthy R. . 2004 . English Collocation Studies: The OSTI Report . Continuum . Tayebi T. , Parvaresh V. . 2014 . ‘Conversational disclaimers in Persian,’ Journal of Pragmatics 62 : 77 – 93 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. 2008 . The Gale Group, Inc., 2nd edn, available at http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/disclaimer. Accessed 10 December 2014 . © Oxford University Press 2016 This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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Applied LinguisticsOxford University Press

Published: Mar 22, 2016

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