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I deal with lots of formal emails (within the company) that refer to unnamed 3rd parties. The first reference is 「研究者」. If I want to use "they" later in the email, what should I use? I've seen both 「彼ら」 and 「先方」 used, but I'm not clear on nuances of these or if there are other choices.

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Any clarification as to who exactly 研究者 is? Are they customers? Employees? Trainees?

Also who are you addressing the email to? 彼ら is often quite brash to use when emailing your superiors (but this really does depend on them, mine let me get away with all sorts of things).

I would stick with 先方 but really if all else fails just call them 研究者 - {Probably the one I would personally use in a similar situation}. Otherwise it can get confusing and the meaning of 先方 could mean any of the parties involved assuming you mention any other party / groups of people in an email.

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    「研究者」 are customers who never see the email. Using 「研究者」 gets either repetitive when I need to disambiguate several parts of the same sentence, or it becomes ambiguous when I must refer to 「研究者」 in general along with the original "them". The Japanese translator generally used 「かれら」, but the native English translators used 「先方」. The target of the emails is our head office. – Norbles Feb 12 '15 at 18:52
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    Japanese does allow repetitiveness to a much greater extent than English however if they are customers and they are the only customers referred to in the email even お客様 would be OK. Otherwise, I personally would steer away from かれら/彼ら in favour of 先方 due to the input I have received from my bosses, however your mileage may differ. If they are fine with you using it I see no reason why any of the four (研究者・先方・彼ら・お客様) would be unacceptable. Another possibility is to call them by name. Also as long as your emails are internal there should be no reason why you can't address them by name (田中様 etc). – The Wandering Coder Feb 13 '15 at 0:02
  • I translate and generally don't know the name, so I guess then 先方 will be my best bet when I don't want to squeeze in another 「研究者」. Thanks! – Norbles Feb 13 '15 at 1:02

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