Such toe is all right now/Nachahmung in der Rechtssprache

Some Germans – lawyers or translators – can write really good legal English but tend to be more Catholic than the Pope (päpstlicher als der Papst) when doing so.

I’m reminded of this by the (new) legal writer’s quote in his latest entry:

“Much bad writing today comes not from the conventional sources of verbal dereliction—sloth, original sin, or native absence of mind—but from stylistic imitation. It is learned, an act of stylistic piety which imitates a single style, the bureaucratic style I have called The Official Style. This bureaucratic style dominates written discourse in our time, and beginning or harried or fearful writers adopt it as protective coloration.”

—Richard A. Lanham, Revising Prose vi (3d ed. 1992).

(This is quoted from Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day, which I don’t receive).

That refers to native English speakers writing English, who have less excuse, of course.

Particular features of this hyperlegalese:

use of said and aforesaid where it adds nothing

use of such instead of this/these

Here’s a site that objects to it too (Alabama Legislative Reference Service):

Rule 10. Use of “Such”
Do not use “such” as a substitute for “the,” “that,” “it,” “those,” “them,” or other similar words.
Example: “The (not ‘such’) application shall be in the form the court prescribes.” Use “such” to express “for example” or “of that kind.”

overuse of shall. I quote an example from Butt and Castle on Modern Legal Drafting:

If the Vendor shall within one month of the receipt of such notice give written notice (If the Vendor … gives would suffice)

Here is Todd Bruno of Louisiana State University, quoting Gerald Lebovits:

About said, as in aforesaid, Justice Smith asked whether one would say, “I can do with another piece of that pie, dear. Said pie is the best you’ve ever made.” About same, he asked whether one would say, “I’ve mislaid my car keys. Have you seen same?” About the illiterate such, he asked whether one would say, “Sharon Kay stubbed her toe this afternoon, but such toe is all right now.” About hereinafter called, he asked whether one would say, “You’ll get a kick out of what happened today to my secretary, hereinafter called Cuddles.” About inter alia, he asked, “Why not say, ‘Among other things?’ But, more important, in most instances inter alia is wholly unnecessary in that it supplies information needed only by fools …. So you not only insult your reader’s intelligence but go out of your way to do it in Latin yet!”

See also the Legalese Hall of Shame.

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