Word Nerd: ‘Apposite unfoldments’ and other words too fancy to understand

24 Apr

For some reason, some people think that the harder something is to read, the smarter it must be. But a long word or a complex sentence is not necessarily more effective than a short word or a simple sentence. Indeed, the opposite is often true.  We have discussed before why verbosity is a terrible way to communicate. And now we have a real-life example of how terrible it can get.

Recently, the Supreme Court of India sent back a judgement by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh, because it was impossible to understand. The case was an 18-year-old dispute between a landlord and  tenant. The landlord went to the Supreme Court after the High Court barred him from evicting the tenant who was allegedly not paying rent. The landlord’s lawyer called the judgement “convoluted”, and the tenant’s lawyer joked that she would have to hire an English professor understand it.

Judge for yourself – some samples are below:

  • [The] tenant in the demised premises stands aggrieved by the pronouncement made by the learned Executing Court upon his objections constituted therebefore… wherewithin the apposite unfoldments qua his resistance to the execution of the decree stood discountenanced by the learned Executing Court.
  • However, the learned counsel…cannot derive the fullest succour from the aforesaid acquiescence… given its sinew suffering partial dissipation from an imminent display occurring in the impugned pronouncement hereat wherewithin unravelments are held qua the rendition recorded by the learned Rent Controller…

So many words… so little meaning!

It’s funny… or is it? After giving it time, two Supreme Court justices could come up with no judgement. Both parties in the dispute, as well as their lawyers, wasted time preparing for the hearing. A media report quoted the landlord’s lawyer as saying, “We normally prepare an appeal in two days’ time. However, in this case I took more than a week.” Someone somewhere spent time typing up words that nobody can understand.

If we could add up all the work hours used up each year to produce and understand such incomprehensible writing, what would be the cost to the country? And what about justice delayed? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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