For the linguistic and legal anthropologists among us, Rob Hyndman notes a series of neat and amusing posts about the ‘generic’ texts and disclaimers lawyers add to their emails and other correspondence. Here’s a quote from the original post from Ernie the Attorney, a self-proclaimer collector of boilerplate language:
Boilerplate language is intended to bore you and intimidate you at the same time.
You’re supposed to feel like the language is so ‘official and important’ that you have no right to question it. And, since it is written by lawyers, boilerplate language is like a hypnotist’s finger snap, which is to say it puts you into an immediate hypnotic stupor.
Lawyers love to create boilerplate language. They will spend hours carefully arranging multi-syllable words to achieve the precise balance of confusion and torpor. Like witches creating magic potions for various types of spells, lawyers have an arsenal of boilerplate language for use in any given situation.
Ernie has much more at his site and on other related posts. He’s got great takes on the uses of these texts — a real insider’s view — and many examples. Others are supplying their own creative examples in the comments.