Towards a Cartesian Legal Language

Accordingly, it is possbile to construct the pump housing in such a manner that, in addition to the said at least approximately radial outlet, it […]1

The above-quoted passage shows with eminent clarity the point at which the use of the word “said” to clarify the referrent of an expression overextends itself in the English language and leads to confusion, rather than to exactitude.

Legal language would benefit tremendously from the incorporation of a discovery Descartes made several hundred years ago in mathematics: the use of readily distinguished symbolic variables makes it easier to express complex thoughts in which there is a long succession of references to distinct entities that might be otherwise confused. More generally, one should appreciate that natural human languages are not optimal tools for the expression of many thoughts.

  1. U.S. Patent No. 6,100,618 : Schoeb et al. : Column 3 : Lines 56-58