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How can I say "about which" in legal English (using some word akin to "herein" and "therewith")? For example, I would like to say "John Smith was born on April 1, about which there was made a record," only using an apposite legal word instead of the ones in cursive.

Additional context:

I am working on a translation of a birth certificate, which---even when interpreted in its original language---is a rather awkward read. So, if translated literally, the sentence would sound like "Citizen ... was born on ... about which in the civil registry about birth in year ... on the ... day of month of ... was made a record numbered ..." So, on one hand, I am disinclined to translate the text very liberally, but on the other hand I cannot possibly translate it word-for-word and derive a readable English sentence.

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    Usually, concerning which, but in your exact context in respect of which [event] might be better. Legalese is an ugly style and difficult to parse though, so I wouldn't go overboard. – FumbleFingers Aug 28 '14 at 2:57
  • A certificate to that effect was made and recorded... (IANAL) – Jim Aug 28 '14 at 3:05
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    There is no inherent requirement that legal English be excessively formal. It became so only because the simplest way to produce a strong legal document is to take one that has stood up against repeated challenges and make the minimum necessary changes to adapt it to the new situation. There are specific terms which may have to be used to ensure that the correct meaning is understood, but outside of that you CAN write a legal document in informal English. If you're asking about how to make your text read like what everyone expects a legal document to sound like, that's a different question! – keshlam Aug 28 '14 at 3:13
  • If you want a word akin to herein (in this) and therewith (with that), then I recommend whereabout (about which). Note that any here + preposition combination means preposition + this, any there + preposition means preposition + that, and any where + preposition means preposition + which or what. – Anonym Aug 28 '14 at 3:50
  • "about which" is fine, it's acceptable and correct. It is "legal" English (about which, I know a thing or two). – Kris Aug 28 '14 at 6:40
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John Smith was born on April 1, which event was duly recorded.

To be even more legalesoteric

John Smith was born on April 1, the fact of which was duly recorded.

We are a bunch of pompous twits.

There is a move in some segments of the legal community (or the real community which has to deal with us lawyers) to return legal documents and dealings to human English. Simplify, simplify, simplify. And stop saying everything three times (albeit using synonyms). The sucess of this movement remains in doubt

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In your actual example, the English legal term is whereof, since you make a record of a fact, not about it. It would certainly sound stilted, but that is not always undesirable in legal documents.

Which leads to a second point; if you are translating something that sounds archaic, stilted or just plain confusing in the original, you have to choose whether you want a faithful translation or a readable one; combining the two risks falling between two stools.

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I still think that bib's "which event was duly recorded" (which I upvoted some time ago) is a very good English legal-style wording that conveys the gist of the record. Alternatively, you could convey the same idea with a bit more archaic flavor by replacing "about which" with "wherefore" (in the sense of "for what reason" or "therefore") and rewording some of the subsequent verbiage:

"Citizen [name] was born on [date of birth]; wherefore, a record of birth numbered [record number] was entered in the civil registry in year [year] on the [ordinal number] day of month [month]."

Or you could adopt the less fusty approach of replacing "about which" with "as set down in":

"Citizen [name] was born on [date of birth], as set down in a record of birth numbered [record number], entered in the civil registry in year [year] on the [ordinal number] day of month [month]."

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It would seem to be whereabout: "John Smith was born on April 1, whereabout there was made a record".

  • Thanks, brasshat, but isn't "whereabout" too archaic to be used these days? – sova Aug 28 '14 at 3:38
  • I concede it is not in much use in contemporary English, except perhaps in legal documents. But it's not really any more archaic than than "therewith". And I suspect that you are translating an old document anyway, so the fact that it has an old flavor might be useful. – brasshat Aug 28 '14 at 3:50
  • These are good points. – sova Aug 28 '14 at 3:53
  • Legalese is full of archaic constructs. That's one of the reasons it's so hard for ordinary people to understand. – Barmar Aug 28 '14 at 18:54

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