Sunday, April 29, 2012

Language Tics in the Law Reviews

Mark Tushnet

Having offered a mild rant about the roadmap paragraphs in law review articles (and see this indirect response), I've been noting other quirks in law review "style." Here are some I've run across in the past couple of weeks.

1. "I want to argue" whatever -- "Well, you may want to argue that, but by golly, I'M NOT GOING TO LET YOU." "Want to" is just a hiccup here.

2. Related: "It could be argued" that -- "Well, yes, it could be argued, but whoever did it would be a nincompoop." I think this is a residue of early law school education, where students, lacking confidence in what they're about to say, use the tentative "you could argue" and the like precisely so that they won't be open to the "you're a nincompoop" response from their Professors Kingsfield.

3. My favorite line in a roadmap paragraph: "The remainder of this Article fleshes out the foregoing argument" -- "so, frankly, there's really no need to read any further, but my tenure committee wouldn't take kindly to a five-page article, so I've padded it with unnecessary words to make it look more substantial than the foregoing few pages might suggest it is."

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