A recent writer has inveighed, not without some declamation, against the use of rhetoric in the field of law-making.1 But rhetoric finds a place, and often an unprofitable one, not only in legislation, but even in technical legal analysis. Metonymy (change of name) has often been pointed out. When we say that X is the owner of blackacre, what we mean is that X has certain legal advantages concerning blackacre; in other words, that X is the holder or dominus of claims (rights) and powers concerning certain land. Synecdoche (saying more or less than i' meant) is very commonly found; and the illustrations are numerous in the interpretation of statutes. When "full faith and credit" are to be given to the judgments of another state certain exceptions are sometimes made, as, for example that the judgmerit must be responsive to the pleadings where the defendant has not appeared. Again, a right 'against the whole world' may mean something less extensive than the words imply. Personification is a useful and necessary rhetorical figure often employed by the law, not, of course, in mere words, but in deeds, as when, for example, a barrel of molasses which contains too much sulphur is cbndemned to destruction. Even the attribution of legal capacity to a human being amounts, in essence, to legal personification. Pleonasm (the use of redundant words) is a common vice often resorted to out of caution that nothing shall be omitted. It finds expression in such phrases as 'rights, claims, and demands,' and 'transfer, set over, alien, and convey.' Metaphor also abounds, as when we speak of an agent 'representing' his principal, of 'transferring' land, or of 'assigning' a contract.2
Plurality of Advantage and Disadvantage in Jural Relations,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol19/iss1/4