Friday, June 09, 2006

Impliedly and hoverports

Are two words I learnt yesterday. Something at work was said to be “impliedly defined” and I hazarded that this might be bollocks. Word certainly didn’t like the term, and scribbled under the first bit in angry red zigzag.

Google threw back “about 986,000” finds for it (in an impressive 0.17 seconds), but a cursory glance suggests these are mostly people wanting to know if this bastard is really a word?

Yes, reply those shackled to the right of legalese to obfuscate (or, those who think it’s okay for lawyers to make things complicated). For example:
“I have a great deal of sympathy with the hon. Lady's comments on seemingly cumbersome words such as “impliedly''. However, lawyers tell me that, over the years, those words acquire a meaning that all lawyers understand in the context of Acts of Parliament and Bills before Parliament. Although she is worried about the cumbersome and alienating nature of the prose, “impliedly'' achieves something in the text. If we did not keep it, we would have to list every possible purpose in the agreements reached with other countries, which would almost certainly result in their being revisited often. Fraud, international or otherwise, evolves and changes over time. As one loophole closes, others may open and other ways of defrauding the system are created. The language we use in our Acts of Parliament seeks to put a stop to such practices and to keep up with that evolution.”

Angela Eagle on the Social Security Fraud Bill [Lords], Official ReportCommons Standing Committee A, 9/4/01.

So, er, international fraud would get away with new tricks if a law said “definition is implied” or that something “implies definition”?

The “lawyers tell me” suggests the hon. Angela Eagle doesn’t agree herself, and its being a word “that all lawyers understand” just means it’s jargon. A colleague unkindly suggests that it is in lawyer’s interests to make things unwieldy for the layperson. I have every respect for the nuance of meaning, and it’s on the basis I question the term. It’s longer, it’s more complicated, and really quite bright people don’t know what it means.

Not being a lawyer (or that bright) I’d still hazard it’s bollocks. And googling also turned up the equally silly “implicative”.

Meanwhile, a “hoverport” is a port for a hovercraft, rather than a port that hovers. Bit disappointed about that one.

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