You’ll Never Need Legal English Terms and Vocabulary – Way Too Specific!

By Robby

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– Video Transcript Below –

Hi guys, hello boys and girls and welcome back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog or alternatively in case you’re listening to this as an audio file on iTunes or on my blog, welcome back to English Harmony podcast!

You see, the thing is that not all countries can view YouTube content. I know one of such country which is China where YouTube isn’t actually accessible, but any blog visitors from China can actually read my blog and listen to the podcast. So the podcast is the alternative to watching a video. But the content is the very same. What I’m doing is I’m recording a video and then I’m producing a video file for YouTube and then, after that I’m producing an audio file for iTunes. Simple as that!

Anyhow, today let’s talk about legal language. And let me tell you right up front that legal language is very much different from normal English that you would use on the street when speaking with people at work, and at school and so on and so forth. And why is it different?

What’s So Special About the Legal Language?

Well, the thing is that the English language is very diverse. There is the conversational English. There’s formal English. And then formal English subdivides into other branches. And then legal language is the most complicated form of formal English language. And I suppose all those specific terms and means of expression have been created to get rid of all dubiousness which is a fancy word for – let me try and explain this concept in simple words.

Basically, when something is dubious, you can understand it in two ways or two or more ways. So basically, to get rid of all things that could be interpreted in many ways. Everything has to be straightforward and clear cut in the court system, in the legal system. That’s why the legal language is very precise but it’s much different from the normal English that we’re used to.

And why am I actually talking about this legal language? The other day I got contacted by one of my blog readers and he asked me why this specific word is used in a completely different way in this legal language? And I’m guessing that was an excerpt from some sort of a contract or something. And obviously my response was – he shouldn’t be reading contracts and that kind of English because it will confuse you. You’re so much better off just focusing on normal, simple English used in daily life and just forget about what is written in those contracts!

And I would imagine the person got that question because he had come across that particular sentence in a contract he was signing maybe. And as you all know, when you’re settled down in an English-speaking country, there’s plenty of contracts you have to sign. You have to open a bank account and there’s plenty of contracts to sign. You probably sign up for a cellphone contract, basically you buy a cellphone and then you get billed every month and there’s a contract to sign. You’re signing a lease agreement when you’re renting an apartment or a house or something like that. So there’s plenty of paperwork to sign.

Obviously not all of us read through it, we just accept everything that’s in there blindly, we just take it for face value, we just sign it. But sometimes when you start reading into that text, it’s very difficult to wrap your head around all those sophisticated terms and expressions and fancy words and such.

There Was a Time When I Would Translate and Memorize Legal Terms…

And to tell you the truth my friends, there was a time back in the day when I was going down the same road. I was trying to translate everything that that particular contract said and I was trying to learn and memorize all those fancy words. But back then little did I know that those words wouldn’t actually be useful in real life and all the time I spent on memorizing those words was just wasted.

All that time would have been so much better spent if I learned some conversational English. Some phrases, some idiomatic expressions and so on and so forth. And I actually reached down where all my old notepads are and I pulled out an old vocabulary, dictionary that I used to have back in the day.

I was writing down all the words with the respective translation in Latvian which is a definite no-no. But back then I didn’t know that in order to successfully incorporate new English vocabulary words, you have to explain them using other simpler English words. But I was doing it in Latvian, therefore enforcing the translation mode of my mind whereby every time when I was speaking, I was translating from Latvian to English which is totally unnatural.

But anyhow, here is a section from legal language and all these terms hereupon, herewith, thereby, therein, thereof, thereupon. I was learning them all. I was memorizing them and I could actually recite them off by heart because I had memorized them, right?

And I would provide the translation into Latvian as to what it means, but could I use them in real life? Of course I couldn’t! And that’s the whole point of this video, my friends!

No Point in Learning Something You’ll Never Use!

There is no point in trying to figure out what all that fancy language in a contract means. Because it’s not going to serve any purpose unless you’re trying to become a legal professional, a lawyer or something like that. Other than that it has no use for real life.

And in case you don’t understand something that’s in a contract, there’s always ways of finding it out. You can ask a bank official what this particular thing means or you can actually use dictionaries and find out what it means and you figure it out but you don’t necessarily have to learn it. You don’t have to memorize all those words, you don’t have to learn that vocabulary because chances are – you will never use those words. And that’s about it, my friends.

This is a very, very valuable lesson today. Don’t waste your time learning very specific English language such as legal language. And I just took this legal language as an example today because it’s one of the most difficult aspect of English. It’s a very specific language. Vocabulary is very, I suppose ancient. It comes from the old days because the court system to the best of my knowledge relies on old cases being presented as a precedent in the legal proceedings and all that. So I would imagine a lot of archaic vocabulary is still being used in the court system while in real life nobody uses those expressions and words.

So in case you’re facing a situation where you have to sign a contract and you don’t understand something, don’t try to make perfect sense out of everything that you read there. In case you don’t really understand what’s written, ask someone for advice, ask them to explain in simple language what it means.

And to wrap this video up, I will actually tell you that here in Ireland there’s this thing called the plain English, so that citizens and anyone else who deals with government institutions knows exactly what they’re signing, knows exactly what they have to fill in the application forms because obviously they’ve come to realize that oftentimes if they use very legal language, very, very formal English in those application forms, ordinary people have a hard time understanding what it says there.

So I hope that there will be a time when the court system catches up with that and also starts using simpler language to explain all those legal terms. But maybe it’s not possible. Just like I told you, they have to avoid any dubiousness and everything has to be very clear cut and straightforward. So maybe there’s a reason why things are the way they are.

But anyhow, that was today’s video and obviously you can let me know if you’ve had any experience dealing with legal paperwork, any contracts and such. And have they ever confused you? And have you been wasting your time trying to memorize legal vocabulary for example?

Let me know and let’s get the discussion going. All right. Thanks for watching my video, I’ll chat to you soon. Bye bye!


P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!

P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System

P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out the English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System