Friday, November 11, 2011


Allow me to introduce the term Juriswahili as a more “portable” alternative to legalese. The word legalese is quite nice but has one major disadvantage: It does not work in most languages.
Legalese is an English term first used in 1914 for legal writing that is designed to be difficult for laymen to read and understand, the implication being that this abstruseness is deliberate for excluding the legally untrained and to justify high fees. Wikipedia
My search for a more “portable” term did not turn up something useful so I did what one usually does in the English language when such a situation occurs and simply invented a new word. The reference to Swahili in my opinion fits perfectly:
Although only five million people speak Swahili as their native language, the total number of speakers exceeds 100 million. … Within much of East Africa, it is often used as a lingua franca.

Swahili is a Bantu language that serves as a second language to various groups traditionally inhabiting parts of the East African coast. Some Swahili vocabulary is derived from Arabic … It has also incorporated Persian, German, Portuguese, English and French words into its vocabulary through contact during the last five centuries. Wikipedia
Concerning the difficulty of the language:
Swahili is probably the easiest African language for an English speaker to learn. … no non-English sounds in Swahili and only one sound that occurs at the beginning of a word in Swahili that can only occur at the end of a syllable in English. … one of the few subsaharan African languages that have no tone … prefixes and suffixes are easy to see and hear … has many grammatical structures that are foreign to English grammar. It takes time and effort to learn any second language, but if you want to learn an African language and your native language is English, Swahili is your best choice.
It is not unlikely that you know at least the Swahili word meaning “doctor”: daktari.

Originally published on Google+

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