Advice on legal English: Legalease by Howard Posner
Thread poster: Tim Drayton

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:46
Turkish to English
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Sep 11, 2009

The magazine California Lawyer regularly carries articles in a section entitled Legalease by lawyer Howard Posner contining advice for lawyers on composing legal texts. Mr Posner clearly favours the use of plain English over legalese (hence the title). As translators, we are obviously constrained by the source text but these articles may nevertheless contain useful advice for those of us who translate legal documents.

[Edited at 2009-09-11 10:36 GMT]

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Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:16
German to English
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Thanks Sep 11, 2009

Thanks for the link, Tim. I did search the site, and was unable to spot the section you mention at a cursory glance or even through the Site Search box. Can you give a more detailed link?

Sounds real interesting, I'm sure this will be useful!

[Edited at 2009-09-11 14:33 GMT]

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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:46
Italian to English
My fault Sep 11, 2009

The link is here:

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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:46
Spanish to English
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Interesting article Sep 11, 2009

Thanks for an interesting article.

I tend towards plain English when translating legal texts - on the basis that the writer actually hopes that the reader will be able to understand the text. Of course, when dealing with lawyers this assumption may be dangerous.

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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:46
Russian to English
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Thanks for the link Sep 11, 2009

I found that article very interesting. The languages I translate don't have direct, formal equivalents for archaic English words such herein, hereafter, thereto, etc. that no plain spoken person uses anymore. Or at least the contemporary documents I work on don't. Russian and Bulgarian writers use plain, ordinary, everyday words.

I prefer translating straight technical documents, but I occasionally have to deal with legal language. I'm often tempted to throw in those English words that Posner discourages lawyers from using to make my translations sound like legalese. Now I have good reason to avoid doing so.

By the way, if you want to read his other articles on the site, just enter "legal ease" (with the quotes) in the search box.

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Advice on legal English: Legalease by Howard Posner

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