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Ever heard this word hereinbefore?

Byline: Sid McKeen

COLUMN: WRY & GINGER

Funny things, words. Many of them enlighten us. Some of them endarken us. I know, endarken isn't even a word, but it should be, if only to validate the hereinafter that follows.

The what? The hereinafter. Yes, that really is a word. Take my word for it. It's been around since 1590 and you still see it in countless documents drawn up by lawyers, who seem to delight in making everything as clear as mud, while nonetheless sounding like the voice of God. Endarkeners who compose prose like this: "The landlord emises unto the tenant the premises hereinafter called the demised premises."

Or this: "John Smith (hereinafter referred to as `Lessor') acknowledges that Mary Jones (hereinafter referred to as `Lessee') has permission to sublet the premises located at 27 Elm Street (hereinafter referred to as `the premises') to Harvey Kucklemeyer (hereinafter referred to as `Sublessee'...)," etc. etc.

"Lessee" now, Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know's on third. Whatever, which is also a word, if not a position on the diamond.

You think "hereinafter" is an eye-glazer? It actually has a counterpart in the dictionary entry, "hereinbefore." Yes, truly. So it would be entirely proper to say that the word "hereinafter" was discussed by this column hereinbefore.

Lawyer language. Just the other day, I received a 28-page booklet in the mail explaining my options involving an offer to buy shares I took a flyer on a few years ago in a growth fund that hasn't been growing, not for me anyhow. The first sentence on the first page contained no fewer than 205 words. I can't do it justice without quoting it word for word - all but the first 10, which identify the fund by name, or the last 50, which started to give me a peptic ulcer.

Ready? Here goes: (The company) "is offering to purchase up to thirty percent (30%) of the Fund's issued and outstanding shares of common stock ("Offer Amount"), par value $0.0001 per share, at a price equal to 98.5 percent of the per share net asset value (`NAV') in U.S. Dollars as of the close of regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the business day immediately following the day the offer expires (the `Pricing' Date), in exchange for a pro-rata portion of the Fund's portfolio securities (other than (i) securities which, if distributed, would be required to be registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (`1933 Act'); (ii) securities issued by entities in countries which restrict or prohibit the securities by non-nationals other than through qualified investment vehicles, or whose distribution would otherwise be contrary to applicable local laws, rules or regulations, and (iii) certain portfolio assets ..."

Yes, and I Don't Know's on third, remember. I picked up the phone and asked a broker for the English translation. After a 20-minute discussion, I sold every share I owned, albeit more for the investment's failure to make money than for its shortcomings in expository writing, though frankly I'd give both an F.

I don't know whether Mark Twain ever played the market, though judging from a quotation attributed to the old master of the American English word, I suspect he may have. Here's something he penned more than a century ago: "October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February."

Bully.

Reach Sid McKeen at mckeensidney@gmail.com.
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Title Annotation:COMMENTARY
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Oct 31, 2010
Words:590
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