逐步改善寫作風格

對於大多數律師來說,風格是最大的寫作問題。本文討論如何逐步簡化寫作風格。

提到「法律術語」,通常就意味著寫作風格差劣,這是法律寫作的最大問題。我們進入法律學院前,寫作風格都與其他人一樣。我們離開法律學院後,尤其是執業了幾年後,寫作風格就變得更「法律」,即更差:慢、不自然、複雜。

「法律」寫作風格使讀者不必要地受苦。看看下面兩句,你寧願讀哪句(一行又一行,一頁又一頁地讀)?

第一句:It is important to keep in mind the fact that, in a majority of the countries of the world, regulatory agencies can put companies that are thriving out of business.

第二句:Please note, in most countries, regulators can put thriving companies out of business.

所有人都寧願讀第二句。第二句較短、較易讀、較自然。然而,第一句的風格在法律寫作中更常見。

如何從第一句變為第二句?如何清理寫作風格,使文件精簡易讀?我們逐句慢慢改變,每次一小步,加起來就能跨出一大步。

縮短

改善風格的最好辦法,是行文更簡潔。句子或文件越短,讀者越快、越容易讀懂。最簡單的方法就是把句子縮短。每份草稿都包含多餘的字或音節,可以刪除而不影響其原意。

大多數律師的英文水平甚高,甚至以英語為母語。他們的寫作風格上並不差劣,只是他們寫的是供同等水平經驗的律師讀的「典型」的句子。我的工作是幫助他們把這些典型句子寫得更好。典型和更好之間的區別,在於很多細微之處,例如在多處縮短,每個縮短似乎都很小,但一起縮短就能改變整體風格。

紅旗

以下兩個例句,把草稿縮短精簡。「紅旗」是寫作時常見的可縮短情況。

例句 1

再看看以上的例句。

原文:It is important to keep in mind the fact that, in a majority of the countries of the world, regulatory agencies can put companies that are thriving out of business.

縮短:It is important to keep in mind the fact that, in a majority of the countries of the worldregulatory agencies can put companies that are thriving out of business.

修改後:Please note, in most countries, regulators can put thriving companies out of business.

紅旗:

  • 切入的介紹短語:通常在句子開頭,that之後才是戲肉。例如﹣
    - It is important to keep in mind the fact that; 
    - We must always remember that; 
    - I have looked into this matter and come to the conclusion that. 
  • 有Of字的短語:通常可以縮短為一個字。例如-
    - a majority of = most; 
    - is indicative of = shows; 
    - a large number of = many; 
    - with the exception of = except. 
  • 冗餘和隱含信息:例如 -
    - countries of the world;
    - individually tailored;
    - large in size;
    - conscious efforts;
    mutual agreement.
  • “Who/that/which” + [a form of “to be”]:例如 –
    - companies that are thriving = thriving companies;
    - judges who have been elected = elected judges.

上述的縮短都相當小,但加起來令句子更精簡,比原文的冗長累贄更勝一籌。原文有30個字和46個音節,修改後有13個字和21個音節,字數和音節數目不到一半,但表達的意思相同!

例句 2

看看第二個例句。

原文:In the present case, the ruling by the lower court was prejudicial error due to the fact that it had a limiting effect on cross-examination with respect to issues that were of vital importance. (34個字/54個音節)

縮短:In the present case, the ruling by the lower court was prejudicial error due to the fact that it had a limiting effect on cross-examination with respect to issues that were of vital importance.

修改後:Here, the lower court’s ruling was prejudicial error because it limited cross-examination on vital issues. (15個字;31個音節)

紅旗:

  • 一般來說,嘗試用一個單詞來代替短語。
  • 用here,而不用in the present case、in the instant case、in the case at hand、in the case at bar等。
  • “Fact”:Fact字是一面「紅旗」。例如 -
    - due to the fact that = because;
    - the fact that = as/since;
    - notwithstanding the fact that = although.
  • 名詞氾濫:例如 –
    - had a limiting affect on = limited;
    - find a solution = solve;
    - take a course of action = act.
  • “Respect/regard/concerning”:這些模糊的介詞是「紅旗」,嘗試用一個單字的介詞或更改單詞順序。例如 -
    - in respect of any transfer = to transfer;
    - regulations regarding banking = banking regulations.

結論

所有讀者都喜歡簡單的風格,因為所有讀者都很忙。簡化的最好的方法就是逐句、逐字、逐個音節縮短,逐步改善寫作風格。

創辦人,法律寫作教練

身為加州大律師公會的成員,Jensen先生是一位在歐洲,亞洲和美國擁有豐富經驗的法律寫作教練。

他持有BYU(猶他州)的法學博士學位,他是該處Law Review International Comparative Law Annual的編輯。他從海德堡大學獲得法學碩士學位,並獲得香港城市大學法律語言學碩士學位。

曾任美國和歐洲各大律師事務所各種領域的律師。他自1995年以來一直在歐洲和亞洲工作,現在維也納執業。