17 Apr 2008
Dazed and/or Confused?

Seemingly simple words and phrases can turn out to be befuddlingly complex, particularly in a legal context. Still, 14 pages to discuss and/or? It’s a wonder that we don’t argue about something as trivial as what is is … oh, wait.

In his excellent book, The Language of Judges (Chicago 1993) Larry Solan (who is both a linguist and a law professor) devotes 14 pages to “the and/or rule” as it is used in the legal context, noting that commentators on statutes who have encountered the legal uses of and, or, and and/or say that this expression is notoriously loose and inaccurate.

–Roger Shuy

That was a followup to Pullum, who said, “The right theory of what or means in English is that it is in general inclusive but that sometimes the exclusive special case is conveyed as a conversational implicature.”.

Links:
Geoffrey K. Pullum, And/or: “and AND or”, or “and OR or”? at Language Log
Roger Shuy, Legal uses of and/or…or something at Language Log

By the way, Language Log has moved to a new server; I’ve just updated the link in the sidebar.

Oh, regarding is:

It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, …

Bill Clinton

Category: Life-Society
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