Legal English (was RE: Using M-dash and N-dash?)

Subject: Legal English (was RE: Using M-dash and N-dash?)
From: "Downing, David" <DavidDowning -at- Users -dot- com>
To: <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 14:03:29 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Geoff Hart [mailto:ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca]
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 9:46 AM
Subject: Using M-dash and N-dash?

Legal English is a dialect with its own jargon,
usage, and style conventions, and you can't understand that dialect
until you understand these unique aspects of it. I've been a
professional editor for something like 20 years, and still don't claim
to understand legal English--but you can certainly find legal editors
who do understand, and they're the ones you should ask about this.


One thing that helps, to some extent, is understanding the overall
rationale for legal English. In a legal document, everything must be
made 100% explicit. I'm sure that many people on this list have been on
both ends of the kind of dispute that involves some point that one
person thinks is crystal clear and the other person feels was never even
addressed. Often, it's a matter of the point never being explicitly
stated, then not being inferred as intended. Or one person can assume a
point is self-evident, when it isn't self-evident to the other person.
Or both people can have opposing ideas of what should be self-evident.
In legal matters, you can't say, "But you KNOW what I MEANT." Such
matters tend to be decided in favor of the person who says, "You didn't
SAY [whatever], so I can't be held responsible for knowing and acting on
it." Legal documents must be written in such a way as to guarantee that
everything you want someone to know and act on is spelled out.


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