Showing posts from June, 2017

English Language and English Law

I doubt whether anybody penning his or her ‘last will and testament’ ever considered why he or she was not simply making a will. It is probably attributed to long-standing usage, and therefore any innovation such as (horror!) omitting the ‘and testament’ might create some ambiguity, or, even worse, an incorrigible legal defect resulting in a family feud lasting generations. Lawyers probably encouraged this kind of thinking so that ordinary people (that is, their paying clients) understood that the lawyer was a real professional and his ways might be questioned only at considerable personal risk. In fact the explanation is quite mundane and relatively sensible. ‘Will’ is Anglo-Saxon or Old English for the same thing as the Norman-French-derived ‘testament’. In both cases the word simply means a legal document disposing of one’s property on death. Legal drafters were sensitive to possibly different nuances of these two words. After all I ‘will’ this article into existence (an inte