Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Make utilization of this.

I hate "utilize." It has no purpose but to make a sentence longer and less clear. There is virtually no situation in which "utilize" would not better be "use."1 "Make use of" is equally annoying.2 But one example:
The question is one of [defendant's] mindset in utilizing [read "using"] the lease agreements. What was [defendant's] goal in utilizing [read "using"] the lease agreements?3

Counsellor, you are not in fifth grade any more, writing a book report on The Outsiders, which may be no shorter than four pages, else five points will be docked. Your brief can be as short as you want! No need to replace short words with long ones, I promise.

Over the holidays, as I pondered "utilize" and its equally ugly twin "make use of," I had a flash of verbose inspiration. I generated the Ubermensch of irritating, flabby phrasing: "make utilization of." So unnecessary! So annoying! Brilliant!

Alas, I had underestimated the legal profession's desire to wax verbose. This phrase, which I thought my own verbal Frankenstein, already lumbers through the public record, frightening all who encounter it.4 I regret to inform that I offer but a few examples:

  • While the initial filing fee for arbitration may indeed be higher to Plaintiff, this in and of itself is not sufficient to make utilization of the agreed upon forum impracticable in light of the fact that this cost can be fully recouped if Plaintiff is successful.
  • It is precisely these kinds of multiple party transactions, in which the involved parties rarely, if ever, deal directly with one another, that make utilization of the UCC's available protective filings crucial. Failure to utilize to full potential all the protection that the UCC affords leaves unsecured parties' interests inferior to those of parties who wisely follow UCC directives.
  • There have been occasions when the Court, after initially fashioning a per se rule for a certain type of conduct, has subsequently determined that the absence of demonstrably certain anticompetitive effect and the possibility of economic utility for such an arrangement make utilization of per se treatment unwarranted.

I'll note only that this last bullet point is doubly infuriating, because the entire phrase could not only be changed to "use" but could be struck out entirely.

1A very smart man with a very cool webpage informs me that in two particular situations, "utilize" and "utilization" are the correct technical terms. LWW will assume without finding that he is correct. I submit, however, that these particular uses of the term (which are neither interesting nor relevant) have only become accepted jargon because the original jargonators wanted their jargon to sound longer and less clear, thereby making the jargonators more necessary.

2 Arguably more so, because there's no jargon use to justify "make use of" at all.

3This brief actually uses "utilize" six times in twelve pages. My rage grows comprehensible, I hope.

4 It was almost, but not quite, as disappointing as the time I thought I had a really great idea, and slowly realized that I'd essentially invented cash money. But that is a story for another day.

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