2

Section 2(b) is concerned with legal interests created by a disposition of land the title to which is registered

Can someone explain how this type of sentences can be understood, and what this arrangement is called? From translation by Google to a language I understand better, in my opinion, the sentence can be "...legal interests created by a disposition of land whose title is registered", or "land to which the title is registered".

Is there any difference between the way I understand it to be and the way it was drafted?

The quoted sentence is part of Land Registration Act 2002 of UK. That is UK law in case people do not know what an Act is.

3
  • It's definitely curious: I would have expected only of land to which the title is registered there myself, even in formal writing. Speech would invariably forego pied-piping and produce of land (that) the title’s registered to.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 15:40
  • 1
    This is a case of Pied-Piping an entire noun phrase the title to (land) before the relative pronoun which. It can get much more complex than this. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 15:50
  • See also Can “whose” refer to an inanimate object?
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 16:47

1 Answer 1

2

This sentence means, roughly:

Section 2(b) is concerned with legal interests created by a disposition of land, in cases where the title to that land is registered.

To understand why, let's try to turn the following sentence into a wh-relative clause with the antecedent "land":

The title to the land is registered.

We want to replace "the land" with the relative pronoun "which" and move it to the start of the clause. Now, when the relative pronoun is an object of a preposition at the end of the subject, you can't move the relative pronoun on its own. So this would generally be considered incorrect:

* land which the title to is registered

Instead, you need to move the enclosing prepositional phrase in its entirety:

land to which the title is registered

This is straightforward, but may be somewhat awkward, since it isn't clear whether the prepositional phrase "to which" is modifying "the title" or "registered." Note that "registered" here is an adjective, not a passive voice verb; presumably it means that the land is in the registry of some government agency. Of course, we aren't talking about cases where the title is registered to the land (which would make no sense), but about cases where the title to the land is registered. This is why "land (that) the title’s registered to" is incorrect; if you phrased it that way, "to" would be modifying "registered."

So, particularly in very formal style, you can move not just the prepositional phrase "to which" but its enclosing noun phrase "the title to which" to the start of the relative clause:

land the title to which is registered

That's exactly what you see in the sentence you provided, though the surrounding context may make it less obvious that this is just an ordinary relative clause.

This sounds horrible. But I can (kind of) see why they wrote it that way. You could also say "land whose title is registered," but one would typically say "the title to the land," not "the land's title," so "whose title" is a bit strange.

(My source for the above is Huddleston & Pullum (2002), but I've simplified things greatly and avoided their annoying terminology.)

3
  • Can't this just use whose?
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 16:39
  • @tchrist Edited my answer to explain this. You would typically say "the title to the land," not "the title of the land" or "the land's title."
    – alphabet
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 16:41
  • Now, it makes perfect sense. Thank you so much. Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 14:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.