Vorige keer beloofden we nog even terug te komen op Plain English. Helaas is het gebruik van archaïsche zegswijzen een lastig uit te roeien fenomeen in juridisch taalgebruik. Niet alleen in het Nederlands want Nederlandse juristen hebben er ook een handje van deze dingen over te nemen als ze zich van het Engels bedienen. Lees hieronder!
This week’s feature is archaic language usage. Now, let’s just dwell on the meaning of the word ‘archaic’. If you were to look it up in a dictionary, you would find definitions such as ‘no longer relevant or applicable’ or ‘old and no longer used’ or ‘used about something that is very old fashioned and needs to be changed’. I think the point is clear…
Words such as hereinafter, the aforementioned, hereby etc. really have no place in modern writing. There is a strong movement in English speaking countries for particularly legal writers to lay down their quill pens and join the 21st Century. Spot the archaic words in these phrases we recently came across in texts written by Dutch lawyers:
- Hence, when I have to write certain documents in English, I often have to look up words in a dictionary.
- I herewith attach our advice regarding establishing a B.V.
- Alas, I am unable to assist you in this matter.
- Notwithstanding delivery to the customer, title to property in the goods will remain vested in the Company.
Did you spot them? They were of course hence, herewith, alas and notwithstanding.
There is always a modern equivalent for archaisms; more often than not, they can just be edited out as in addition to being archaic, they are often redundant.
Modern equivalents of sentences 1 – 4
- Hence Consequently, when I have to write certain documents in English, …
- I herewith attach am attaching our advice regarding … (note the use of the present continuous tense!)
- Alas Unfortunately, I am unable to assist you in this matter.
- Notwithstanding Despite delivery to the customer, title to property in goods will remain vested in the Company.
NB: Dutch writers frequently begin their correspondence with ‘Hereby I send you …’ or ‘Herewith we enclose …’. This mistake is probably due to the fact that in Dutch, you are not supposed to start your email/letter with ‘I’ or ‘we’. This rule does not apply to English. So remember, ‘hereby’ and ‘herewith’ have no place in modern business correspondence, although they are still frequently used in formal legal contracts. Here are some alternative opening sentences:
- I am writing to enquire about/ request/ confirm etc.
- I am sending you a copy of our terms and conditions.
- I am enclosing/attaching our terms and conditions.