Nominalization / Substantivierung

The Jurastudentin finds Kühl on Strafrecht heavy going:

bq. Ich befürchte langsam, es liegt an den vielen Substantiven (1), die nicht sein müssten, würde man seinen Satz (2) flüssig aufbauen. Oder auch anders gesagt: Die Ursache (a) der langsamen Entstehung (b) von Furcht (c) könnte der hohe Anteil (d) von Substantiven (e), welcher bei aller Unnötigkeit (f) zu Unflüssigkeit (g) von Sätzen (h) führt, sein. eeks.gif

She can be glad she doesn’t translate the stuff into English. Mind you, legal English also often suffers from nominalization. It’s just different nominalization. To quote Butt and Castle on Modern Legal Drafting:

bq. This convention is not peculiar to legal writing; it infects all bureaucratic and official language. But it is endemic in legal documents. For example, parties to legal documents don’t ‘decide’ to do something; instead, they ‘make a decision’. They don’t resolve, but ‘pass a resolution’. They don’t ‘sever’ a joint tenancy, but ‘effect a severance’. This practice of nominalization might be thought to achieve a certain formality of tone, but it is at the expense of effective communication.

Still, I think I too would talk about an AGM passing a resolution rather than resolving.

I did find an article online, by Professor Maximilian Herberger, on ‘Unverständlichkeit des Rechts’. I’m sure it’s good, but the heading ‘Die Verständlichkeitsdebatte vor Inkrafttreten des Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuchs’ rather threw me.

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