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Legal Writing 101

Think 2 Comments 447

Bryan Garner has written extensively about the law as editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary and as a collaborator with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. We’ll talk to him this hour about what it takes to write clearly about complicated subjects and about high-profile cases working their way through the courts.

  • Demetrios Christopher

    Although the guest sounded at times condescending and pretentious (even while describing others as being that way), there is something to be said about Bryan Garner’s mastery of the English language and the value of expressing oneself in an intelligent and succinct way. Krys was a very polite and forgiving host, perhaps to a fault. I wish I hadn’t been on the road during the time the show was on the air. I would have loved to ask Bryan what he thought of people who use “cadence” to imply “rhythm” or “timing” (such as when referring to “the cadence of a series of events”). Choosing the right words is so important.

  • SpikeHarris

    I really love your show and really liked this episode but I did take issue with a what your guest said about people pronouncing French words with some consideration for how a French speaker would pronounce that word.
    I believe the word in question was “homage” and your guest suggested that people sound pretentious when they pronounce the word in a way similar to how a Francophone would say it rather than completely smoothed out as a North American English speaker might say it.

    I have a few things to say about that.
    Firstly, in my time spent with Francophones, they have some disdain for anglophones and how we butcher their language with wild abandon. I suspect that sentiment is not confined to the French.

    But since your guest said it sounds pretentious to say “homage” with any consideration of its French roots, I find myself wondering, how would he pronounce “rendez-vous” or “cul de sac” or “crepe” or “latte”?

    What about Schadenfreude? Is that okay to speak in any way that suggests it comes from the German?

    I do agree that some people can seem like some pretentious wank out of a Woody Allen film when they drop words for affect. But really, most of us exist in a middle ground where we are trying to pay some respect to the fact that the English language comes to us from a vast number of sources and we don’t have to always sand down the edges to make it okay.

    We build better bridges with our fellow citizens of the world when we show just an inkling of respect towards their language (and culture) and take a few seconds to adapt and learn something new, rather than paving over everything different and assuming there should be no variation or diversity.

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