What is POFP?

Why do lawyers refer to long documents as briefs and
18-year olds as infants? Why do they use so much Latin when so few of their
clients are Ancient Romans? Is it a conspiracy?


Party of the First Part has the answers! Check out the Website for the
Legalese Hall of Shame; a glossary of legal words linked to Adam Freedman's
columns; tips on writing legal documents in plain English; and more!



Sunday, August 19, 2007

Legalese is Code

A recent post on the tech site O'Reilly Radar offers scientific proof that legalese is actually tedious.

In "Law is Code," Artur Bergman discusses a program that (somehow) turns text into these nifty visualizations with lines and dots and such. When they ran the US Code through the program, it churned out this very, very dense picture of criss-crossing lines. Mr. Bergman's comment:

Legalese is a massively structured dialect. Symbols appear in very distinct patterns that are more reminiscent of machine code than text.

Which isn't entirely fair to machine code. Yes, legalese contains more structure and repetition than normal English. But that doesn't mean it achieves precision. In machine code, a word may denote some tangible reality ("widget"), whereas the common words in legalese denote abstract concepts ("reasonable").

Or so it seems to me it seems to me it seems to me it seems to me.


4 comments:

Neena said...

Interesting to know.

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