I have an English-language version of my Finnish birth certificate. It is called an "extract from the population system".

The last paragraph, showing the name of the issuing autority, the place, date and stamp, is headlined by

For true extract from the Population Information System in Finland

This is the complete headline.

I assume what it means is that it's an official document - it has a seal and all. But is "for true" really valid English? I have never heard it used this way. Or is it a mistake?


The phrase is saying that the document is:

For the purposes of true extract from the Population Information System in Finland

A true extract is a legalese term used to mean an extract that has been certified in some fashion. For example, the Australia Taxation Administration Act contains:

(2) Where, pursuant to a State tax law, a copy is made of a document, a State taxation officer may certify the copy to be a true copy.

(3) Where a document is obtained pursuant to a State tax law, a State taxation officer may certify an extract taken from the document to be a true extract.

Because the document you have is called "extract from the population system", the headline is saying that it is created to be a certified extract. It could also be saying that the undersigned authority is "certifying this true extract from the..."

Another example of its use is A true extract out of the Commons journal of the most principal proceedings of that honourable House, in this last short meeting; in order to the preservation of the King and kingdom from the growth of popery, and also for reducing the growing greatness of France.

However, as FumbleFingers points out the phrase "for true extract" is probably just a poor translation. A quick Google search of the phrase yields dictionaries for translation rather than other instances of the phrase in common usage. So "true extract" is fine, but the phrase "for true extract" is likely a bad translation of a longer phrase.

  • The fact that the document can reasonably be called a "true extract" doesn't mean it's grammatically valid to write "For true extract". I do not think that particular construction is or ever was characteristic of British legalese. Also, legalese would not omit your "the purposes of" if that were meaningful. But it isn't, so far as I can tell. I think this is a bad translation. – FumbleFingers Aug 17 '11 at 1:10
  • @FumbleF: Noted, and edited. I think you're right; I apologize for suggesting otherwise. – simchona Aug 17 '11 at 1:47
  • It may be that what was translated as "For" actually started out as some legalese equivalent of "[this document] Being a true extract...". Legal forms in English often have wording like this announcing their status/provenance, particularly as an introduction to the main text, or before a signature. – FumbleFingers Aug 17 '11 at 2:07
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    @FumbleF: Oh, that's makes sense. Thank you for providing that extra info. Is there anything you still object to with my answer? – simchona Aug 17 '11 at 2:09
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    No, it's all good now. Sorry I forgot to reverse the downvote (thanks for reminding me so graciously! :) – FumbleFingers Aug 17 '11 at 2:19

Pekka, I am assuming that this is what you are referring to.

While not grammatically correct or "valid english", its use is accurate—just poorly written. Essentially it is an incomplete sentence.

Better wording on the form would have been "Below is the place for the true extract from the Population Information System in Finland."

It is most likely pointing to a space on the form that you would include (or attach) the extract you are required to obtain prior to your interview.

  • no, it says "For true" directly on the official extract - it's not a third-party form. I'll edit to make that clearer. – Pekka 웃 Aug 16 '11 at 22:01
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    In that case, then yes, it's just poorly written. It's only an assumption on my part, but I assume that it is "for true", in this instance, is being used instead of "official". – RGW1976 Aug 16 '11 at 22:03
  • yeah. Maybe someone thought it's the posh version of "fo' real" :) – Pekka 웃 Aug 16 '11 at 22:06
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    @RGW1976 is correct, it was just poorly written, but it doesn't mean it isn't valid. In Spanish, sometimes I'll say "Verdad" as a sentence, meaning "Is true". It is borderline colloquial, but similar. I'd think of this as meaning "A true and genuine extract from the Population System in Finland". It definitely isn't correct English as phrased. It also doesn't matter, because it's close enough to be understood. Up vote! – Ellie Kesselman Aug 16 '11 at 22:56

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