or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Here's an article about the six commonest online-shopping scams and how not to fall victim to them. Lots of good information there, but also this sentence:

"Legalise is put out there with the expectation that no one is going to read it," says Wouters.

Hoo boy. "Legalise" is a word, in some parts of the world: it's the British spelling for "legalize", because they use the suffix "-ise" instead of "-ize" (as North Americans do) to turn a noun or adjective into a verb. Both versions are straight from Latin, which stole it from Greek "-izein".

The word the writer was looking for, however, was "legalese", which uses the suffix "-ese" to turn a word into another word referring to a language subset which ordinary people find incomprehensible: "medicalese" is another popular example. This usage comes, obviously, from the suffix English often uses to denote people and their languages: "Japan/Japanese", "Vienna/Viennese", and so forth. This suffix comes from Latin "-ensis", "originating in", as seen in many Latin botanical and zoological names such as Homo floresiensis, the skeleton recently discovered on the island of Flores (hence the name) in Indonesia.

As for "legalise"/"legalese", a spell-checker might have caught the error. An editor of some sort definitely would have.


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