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22/5/18 Latinisms

In legal English, we must distinguish between terms of art, for which there are no ordinary English equivalents, and merely vestigial Latinisms with simple English substitutes. The former category comprises useful Latinisms such as prima facie, ex parte, habeas corpus, alibi and quorum.
Some words that do have ordinary English equivalents have nevertheless become such standard terms that they are unobjectionable, e.g. bona fide (= good faith), amicus curiae (= friend of the court), and versus (= against). These words have become a part of the English language, or at least necessary parts of the language of the law, and one would be misdirected to rail against them.
But other Latinisms serve no purpose but to give the writer a false sense of erudition. These terms convey no special legal meanings.
“There is a contradictio in adjecto [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][read contradiction in terms] when we speak of the general damages appropriate to an indeterminate transaction.”
Reasonableness dictates that legal writers simplify where possible, allowing the more complicated locutions to stand only if they are legally or linguistically irreducible. Otherwise, our language is easily beclouded and becomes before we know it, a fog of words in which our readers or listeners become hopelessly lost.


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