Volume 1, Issue 2 (Originally Published 5 March 2012)
“The Trustee is not liable for any loss the Trust Fund suffers while the Trustee is acting as Trustee in that capacity unless it is attributable either to the Trustee’s dishonesty or to an act or omission by the Trustee which the Trustee knows is a breach of trust.”
So many three-letter- acronyms come to mind: OMG, FML, TLA, WTF, LOL.
Why!? Why, after three months of readjusting to the English language, do my printed materials oblige me to make sense of sentence in which a fifth of the words have “trust” in them!? Linguists and my mum might berate Gen-Y for bastardising the English language, but if you ask me “OMG” is a thing of relative beauty. In three letters it conveys meaning, emotion and traverses entrenched socio-economic philological divides... and shit.
What is the purpose of legalese? It only obscures, complicates and frustrates; like a conversation with your girlfriend after you had a date planned, and said she’d be happy to postpone because she knew you were busy with study so you took her up on offer but then she got annoyed because you were supposed to deny her offer and go out with her anyway but you didn’t because you took what she said at face value and now you haven’t had sex in a week.
Maybe that’s why I’m single.
And what was all that chat in Dispute Resolution** about access to justice?*** It’s argued that clearer law leads to greater compliance. Well put your money where your mouth is Law! Which, I guess, would be, like, the legislature, or judges maybe. I don’t know what the mouthpiece of the law is; I didn’t pay attention in LMR. Legalese is actually a symptom of a greater malaise, like Kevin Rudd to anything.
Law doesn’t just employ confusing terminology, it makes nonsense out of average English words: “It is probably true in the abstract to say that the ranges of uses to which trusts may (legitimately) be put is infinitely variable.”
The author’s intention here: “I should say something, but don’t want to say anything, so I’ll use a variety of things, to say nothing.”
It’s observing precision on crack! (Not to be confused with observing Priscilla on crack; only do that if you’re either very straight or very gay).
Which brings me back to my earlier point about sexuality: language should be like sex, it doesn’t matter how you do it, or who with, just make it easy to understand.
The only rationalisation for the continued use of legalese I can fathom is that it’s self-sustaining. Legalese requires people who use English properly to surrender their money to lawyers... on second thoughts, legalese is brilliant.
Catch Charles Hopkins at his lunchtime seminar on Thursday entitled “the Woes of booking rooms” Location TBA
** don’t worry, there’ll be a dedicated column on this subject before the year is out.
*** don’t worry, there’ll be a dedicated column on this subject before the year is out.