Thursday, March 16, 2006

"get"

One day a few years ago, during a late spring legal writing class, we were going over some finer points of wordsmithing, as my students worked on drafting strong point headings for appellate briefs.  "Do you have any other tips like that?" a student asked.  (I can't remember what "that" original tip was, only the question that followed it.)  The first thing that popped into my mind was the sloppy use of "get" in legal writing.

In colloquial American English, there are so many ways to use the simple verb "get."  We:

"get the groceries"
"get the joke"
"get along with so-and-so"
"just barely get by"
"get a shot in the arm"
"get out of town"

And so on and so on.  While some colloquial uses are too informal for legal writing, most are simply too imprecise.

It was clear from the look on my students' faces that they just had never thought much about this word before, but once it was explained, they did, indeed, get it.  (spl)

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