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Thursday, 15 October 2020

The Will and The Comma: a rant.

 I am currently an executrix of a Will.

The Will consists of six pages and no punctuation whatsoever. There aren't even any full stops at the ends of what I take to be sentences. 

There's rather a fashion for legal documents having no punctuation, apparently. The idea is that it makes the document less open to misinterpretation.

Yes, I know that's compete nonsense. The whole point of punctuation (sorry, no pun intended) is to make writing more precise. More focused. Less open to misinterpretation.

After all, one of the most famous examples used to justify careful punctuation is the legal document describing the tariffs to be charged on fruit, trees...or was it fruit trees..? You really have to be sure.

To be honest, though, I wouldn't mind about the punctuation much if the end result was precise and not open to misinterpretation. 

I wouldn't even mind so much if it was open to interpretation,

But what is anyone to make of this?

If the trusts of and concerning any share or shares in my residuary estate shall fail or determine such share or shares so failing or determining shall accrue proportionally and be added to the share or shares not so failing or determining

That's the whole of a clause, and it's like trying to catch smoke.

At least if there was some punctuation then, you never know, it just might have turned into smoke signals.

Word To Use Today: determine. This word comes from the Old French determiner, from the Latin dētermināre to set boundaries to, from termināre, to limit.





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