“How’s the dictionary getting on?”
Winston asked his comrade Syme, who worked with him in the Research Department.
“We’re getting the language into its final shape,” Syme answered. “By the year 2050 at the very latest not a single human being will be alive who could understand the conversation we are having now.”1984, George Orwell.
In America we speak three languages: Slang, Formal English, and Legal English, Though simular, if one tries to communicate using one language while the listener is listening using another language, there is great opportunity for miscommunication. This article is written in Legal English.
Foreigners always have great difficulty dealing with the various idioms. For example, if you think something is genuinely wonderful, you could say either, “That’s really cool!” or “That’s really hot!” Another way to express great approval is to exclaim, “That’s B-A-D!” or “That’s G-O-O-D!”
Unless otherwise specified, English dictionaries cast all words in Formal English, with the more common usage placed at the beginning of the definition. Dictionaries often will show slang or legal meanings as well. They are placed after the more popular usages.
This author favors Webster’s 1828 Dictionary (which is also
online because it is useful in understanding words used in the U.S. Constitution. G. & C. Merriam Webster’s unabridged dictionary published in 1953 and earlier is great for modern meanings.
Because accuracy is required for good legal communication, legal definitions tend to be rather verbose. The extended explanations are necessary to achieve that accuracy. Legal dictionaries are not all called dictionaries. The more thorough dictionaries are entitled “Corpus Juris” and “Words and Phrases.” A given word could require fifty or more pages to arrive at its exact meaning. Other dictionaries (in descending order of this author’s preference) include Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (1872 Edition), Ballentine’s Law Dictionary, and Black’s Law Dictionary (4th edition or earlier).
Later editions of Bouvier’s Law Dictionary are more like legal encyclopedias
Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th through 7th Editions are not as accurate because references to common law are progressively removed, and Roman Civil Law concepts are augmented in order to conform to the law enforcement needs of political power centers such as the Federal Government and the United Nations.
The rule of thumb is that older dictionaries are useful for understanding natural rights, common law, personal sovereignty, and the people’s point of view. Newer dictionaries are useful for understanding civil rights, Roman civil law, centralized authority, and the government’s point of view. All attorneys are trained in the latter. Judges may go to special seminars to learn the former.
For an excellent research paper on the use of dictionaries in the Supreme Court of the United States, see Kevin Werbach’s LOOKING IT UP: The Supreme Court’s Use of Dictionaries in Statutory and Constitutional Interpretation (1994).
Government Manipulation of Language
this web-site.First Trick:
The first “trick” of the Government is the re-definition of certain critical words in each Statute (Act). They (the Government) want you to assume the ordinary meaning of the word so as to trick you into reading and interpreting the Statute in their favour.
Here is a summary of some of the Trick Words. Two key words that are re-defined in almost
Here are the exact definitions from Barron’s
You will observe that the natural-person
The second “trick” of the Government is to use the Interpretation Act to define words that apply to all Statutes, unless re-defined within a particular Statute. Without this knowledge, you could assume the ordinary meaning for the words you are reading, not realizing that they may have been defined by the Interpretation Act. Unless these words have been re-defined in another Statute,
In the Canadian Human Rights Act you will see how individual and person are used and how they apply to natural and artificial persons.
The third “trick” of the Government is to use the word “includes” in definitions instead of using the word “means”. They do this in some critical definitions that they want you to misinterpret. If they
then their deception would be exposed, but by using “includes” they rely upon the reader to assume that “includes” expands the definition, whereas in reality it restricts the definition in the same manner that “means” restricts the definition.
Here is a means definition of the word “person” from the Bank Act:
Here is an includes definition of the word “person” from the Interpretation Act:
To expose their deception, substitute the
Both “means” and “includes” are restrictive in scope because they only encompass part of the whole. Typically they are used in the following form:
From the above example, you will see the
There is a Legal Maxim that supports the
The definition of the word include is key to understanding your potential loss of natural-person. This is the major trick used by the Government in an attempt to take away your natural-person rights. Unless you know this, you will voluntarily forfeit your rights.
The fourth “trick” of the Government is to modify how the word “includes” is used in order to make an expansion in the definition when such expansion is required. This “trick” helps add confusion to the use of “includes”
convincing most readers that “includes” should always be expansive rather than limiting. Here are some legitimate ways in which “includes” is modified to become expansive rather than restrictive:
The expansive definitions usually take the
However, there is also a possibility that “and includes” is restrictive in some constructions.
So, if we presume that “and includes” does provide expansion then we must ask why Ontario and Quebec had to be specifically mentioned when they are already part of a so-called province.
The above construction clearly defines the scope of what is meant by province, that is a province of Canada (it does not say which one), and includes only Ontario and Quebec (compiled from a list of two from the original scope of all provinces). In this construction means provides the scope of the definition and includes provides the list of what is actually included in the definition.
The foregoing analysis is one interpretation, but is not the only interpretation. The use of “includes” in statutory definitions can be argued both ways and is the backbone of understanding interpretations.
With the presumption that “and includes” is restrictive, then we must take a very close look at the following definition, taken from the Interpretation Act:
With this presumption what is stated is: unless another statute re-defines province, the default definition of province only includes the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
So in order to not become absurd, we must
Barron’s Canadian Law Dictionary does not
From Black’s Law Dictionary, fourth edition,
It is stated in the above definition that the verb include is clearly restrictive and only has limited scope. On the other hand the participle, including (but not limited to) enlarges the scope.
Therefore the conclusion is that when used in a definition, include does not expand the existing definition of the word it is attempting to define. It is easy to be confused because we naturally assume the existing definition of the word, then assume include means to add this new interpretation to the existing assumed definition of the word. Our assumptions fail us in this case.
From now on, when you see the word includes, mentally substitute the word means and you will not be “tricked” by this definition any more.
For the Doubting Thomas: If you look into any statute, you will be able to find a definition that uses the word includes and when you attempt to broaden the scope of that word to include the ordinary meaning, you will find that the statute will break down because it will not be able to support the inclusion of the ordinary meaning of the word. The breakdown usually occurs when slavery is invoked.