|Towards more picturesque speech™
“Give me credit,” I said, “I am trying”.
“Well”, she replied, “I’ll give you that. You are trying.” I smiled, flushing with unexpected compliment endorphins.
“Endeavour” neatly illustrates the practical problem with plain English. It is a silly word: long; archaic; it conjures images of Captain Spaulding, in a pith helmet, slashing through jungle in the Congo on the hunt for Dr. Livingstone. Its alternative — “try” — is better in every way that a plain speaker cares about: shorter, more idiomatic, plainer, less fussy.
But there, Dr. Livingstone I presume, lies the problem: “try” slices cleanly through the semantic murk that “endeavour” so skillfully stirs up. It makes clear something the draftsman rather hoped to obscure: namely, that this is a feeble covenant, not worth the paper it is written on.
Consider these alternatives:
- “The vendor shall endeavour to notify the purchaser of its intention within a reasonable period, but shall not have any liability for failing to do so.”
Which sounds qualified — sure — but at least carrying some meat on its bones.
But the plain English alternative reveals how thin that old hogget really is:
- “The vendor must try to tell the purchaser, but isn't responsible if it doesn’t.”