"and/or" considered harmful
Today's mailing from Plain English Campaign has an interesting tidbit on the use of "and/or," at least in legal documents.
When we are editing documents, we will occasionally find ourselves debating the use of "and/or" with a writer.
In our experience, it tends to confuse rather than clarify, and will often be ambiguous.
But we discovered this week that such an objection is far from being a 'new-fangled' idea as some people claim.
Writing in Lawyers Weekly, Judge Mark P Painter revealed that a court in Wisconsin had condemned the phrase in 1935. The state's Supreme Court concluded that "[W]e are confronted with the task of first construing 'and/or,' that befuddling, nameless thing, that Janus-faced verbal monstrosity, neither word nor phrase, the child of a brain of someone too lazy or too dull to express his precise meaning, or too dull to know what he did mean, now commonly used by lawyers in drafting legal documents, through carelessness or ignorance..."
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