Comments for Why do they use legalese? - Understanding Legal Information

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Good post
by: Athena Wehner

I see that you are a professional in this niche. I really love your site. Thank you!

Why use legalese?
by: Anonymous

"Legalese" like English is a cannibalized language, a language that is characterized by borrowing vocabulary from different languages. Languages can’t avoid the use of borrowed terminology just as normal English itself still continues to borrow from other languages. For example, in normal English there is even Swahili terminology that has been brought into everyday English words like Safari, Mwalimu and Mzee,these terms are now found in the Oxford Dictionary. Some terms which seem like legalese are borrowed from other languages like French. For example --Attorney General, Solicitor General.

There is a reason, sort of.
by: Staff, FALDP

There is a reason, or at least an argument, supporting the use of "legalese". The idea is that first of all, contracts and other legal writings are meant for attorneys, and not for the general public. Attorneys understand the Latin phrases and complex (convoluted) sentences.

Secondly, the argument goes that some of the so called "boiler plate" language is verbal shorthand for expansive legal concepts. Attorneys know that each single phrase has been interpreted in a certain way.

The problem with that reasoning and the arguments in favor of legalese is that consumers frequently must read, sign, and be bound by contracts in their everyday lives. Car loan, rental agreement, lease, cell phone contract, mortgage, employment contract, TV contract, HOA rules and bylaws, internet contract, and on and on. On top of that there are laws, rules, and ordinances that must be followed -- also sometimes written in arcane language.

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