Terms and conditions

Wax_seal_with_impression_of_uppercase_letter_AHave you ever noticed that lawyers like to say the same thing twice?
A marriage is to have and to hold; the partners who make and enter into it may covenant and agree that their goods and chattels are shared until they cease and desist, and the contract is declared null and void. On the death of one or either partner, the terms and conditions of the will and testament, witnessed truly and correctly, should be deemed and considered binding and obligating by the heirs and successors, and acknowledged legal and valid in the eyes of all and sundry.

This might give you a headache but there is a reason for all these word pairs, or legal doublets. And it is not because, like Dickens, the lawyers were paid by the word.
Doublets arose because after the Norman Conquest, French, Latin and Old English words were in currency, and their meanings overlapped. To be sure that both meanings were covered and avoid legal dispute, lawyers used pairs of words. While will and testament are Old English and Latin, and goods and chattels are English and French, have and hold are both English; doublets also began to be used for rhetorical effect.

An enjoyable little book called The Story of English in 100 Words by David Crystal can tell you more. Or listen to Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered for a quick introduction to legal triplets.

Translator, editor, writer, reader

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in language
One comment on “Terms and conditions
  1. Wujek says:

    I never, ever, undoubtedly realised this, that or the other.
    Very interesting, nay, fascinating.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

advent Alice in Wonderland American And Other Stories Antonia Lloyd-Jones Arabic Argentina Beowulf Berlin Best Translated Book Award Bible books Brazil Brazilian Portuguese British British Library Buddhism Catalan Children's Books China Chinese Christmas Christmas Carols Contemporary Czesław Miłosz Danish Dari David Hackston Dublin Literary Award English Estonian Fantasy Farsi Fiction Finland Finland 100 Finlandia Prize Finnish Flemish Free Word Centre French George Szirtes German Greek Hebrew Herbert Lomas Herta Müller history Hungarian Iceland Idioms Illustration India international International Translation Day Irish Gaelic Italian J. R. R. Tolkien Japanese Jenny Erpenbeck Johanna Sinisalo Korean Language language learning Languages Latin Literature Lola Rogers Lord of the Rings Mabinogion Man Booker International Prize Maori Maria Turtschaninoff Moomins New Year Nobel Prize Nobel Prize for Literature Norwegian Old English Olga Tokarczuk Owen Witesman Oxford English Dictionary Penguin PEN Translation Prize Persian Philip Boehm Phoneme Media Poetry Poetry Translation Centre Polish Portuguese Pushkin Press Queer Romanian Rosa Liksom Russian Salla Simukka Second World War Short Stories Sofi Oksanen Spanish Stanisław Barańczak Suomi100 Susan Bernofsky Svetlana Alexievich Swedish Switzerland Thomas Teal Tibetan Tove Jansson transation Translation translator Translators Without Borders Valentine's Day Wales Warsaw Welsh Wisława Szymborska Witold Szabłowski Women in Translation Month words Words without Borders writing YA

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow found in translation on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: