Sunday, October 21, 2007
Word of the Week
An Old English form of the verb "to witness," this word crops up in a number of boilerplate contracts, as in the preamble to an insurance policy that states “this policy witnesseth that . . .” Many leases also use that word, as seen in the opening line, “Witnesseth: the lessor agrees to lease said property, etc., etc. ” Loyola law professor and plain-language advocate Peter Tiersma describes witnesseth as “a totemic signal that roughly means ‘This is a legal contract; the following are its terms.’” Not to deny that there's something fun and whimsical about bandying about Olde English terms, but on the whole, it's best done at your local Renaissance Faire (while jousting!).