"How's the dictionary getting on?" Winston asked his comrade Syme, who worked with him in the Research Department.

"We're getting the language into its final shape," Syme answered. "By the year 2050 at the very latest not a single human being will be alive who could understand the conversation we are having now."
1984, George Orwell.

In America we speak three languages: Slang, Formal English, and Legal English, Though simular, if one tries to communicate using one language while the listener is listening using another language, there is great opportunity for miscommunication. This article is written in Legal English.


It's the language of the street. It is a dynamic, loosely defined language, and it can vary considerably from one geographical area to the next. It abounds with special and paradoxical interpretations. Once must "grow up" with the language to fully appreciate its peculiarities.

Foreigners always have great difficulty dealing with the various idioms. For example, if you think something is genuinely wonderful, you could say either, "That's really cool!" or "That's really hot!" Another way to express great approval is to exclaim, "That's B-A-D!" or "That's G-O-O-D!"

Formal English

Precise communications require a more formal structure. Formal English is taught in the schools, and it is the language of choice when strangers meet to execute common transactions. It is a stable language that typically requires multi-decades or centuries to evolve its meanings.

Unless otherwise specified, English dictionaries cast all words in Formal English, with the more common usage placed at the beginning of the definition. Dictionaries often will show slang or legal meanings as well. They are placed after the more popular usages.

This author favors Webster's 1828 Dictionary (which is also online because it is useful in understanding words used in the U.S. Constitution. G. & C. Merriam Webster's unabridged dictionary published in 1953 and earlier is great for modern meanings.

Legal English

When you want accuracy in communication, Legal English is the preferred language. Also known as King's English, or the Language of the Court Room, Legal English is extremely stable, requiring thousands of years for changes in meaning.

Because accuracy is required for good legal communication, legal definitions tend to be rather verbose. The extended explanations are necessary to achieve that accuracy. Legal dictionaries are not all called dictionaries. The more thorough dictionaries are entitled "Corpus Juris" and "Words and Phrases." A given word could require fifty or more pages to arrive at its exact meaning. Other dictionaries (in descending order of this author's preference) include Bouvier's Law Dictionary (1872 Edition), Ballentine's Law Dictionary, and Black's Law Dictionary (4th edition or earlier).

Later editions of Bouvier's Law Dictionary are more like legal encyclopedias

Black's Law Dictionary, 5th through 7th Editions are not as accurate because references to common law are progressively removed, and Roman Civil Law concepts are augmented in order to conform to the law enforcement needs of political power centers such as the Federal Government and the United Nations.

The rule of thumb is that older dictionaries are useful for understanding natural rights, common law, personal sovereignty, and the people's point of view. Newer dictionaries are useful for understanding civil rights, Roman civil law, centralized authority, and the government's point of view. All attorneys are trained in the latter. Judges may go to special seminars to learn the former.

For an excellent research paper on the use of dictionaries in the Supreme Court of the United States, see Kevin Werbach's LOOKING IT UP: The Supreme Court's Use of Dictionaries in Statutory and Constitutional Interpretation (1994).

Government Manipulation of Language

Government Tricks:

This is perhaps the most important page on this web-site.

First Trick:

The first "trick" of the Government is the re-definition of certain critical words in each Statute (Act). They (the Government) want you to assume the ordinary meaning of the word so as to trick you into reading and interpreting the Statute in their favour. Here is a summary of some of the Trick Words. Two key words that are re-defined in almost every Statute are the words "person" and "individual". There are at least two "person" in law:
A natural-person is a legal entity for the human-being.
An artificial-person is a legal entity that is not a human being.
Here are the exact definitions from Barron's Canadian Law Dictionary, fourth edition (ISBN 0-7641-0616-3):
  • natural person. A natural person is a human being that has the capacity for rights and duties.
  • artificial person. A legal entity, not a human being, recognized as a person in law to whom certain legal rights and duties may attached - e.g. a body corporate.
You will observe that the natural-person has the "capacity" (i.e. ability) for rights and duties, but not necessarily the obligation. The artificial-person has rights and duties that may be attached (i.e. assigned) by laws.

Second Trick:

The second "trick" of the Government is to use the Interpretation Act to define words that apply to all Statutes, unless re-defined within a particular Statute. Without this knowledge, you could assume the ordinary meaning for the words you are reading, not realizing that they may have been defined by the Interpretation Act. Unless these words have been re-defined in another Statute, the underlying definitions for the two most important words still apply, either from the Interpretation Act, or the Canadian Law Dictionary. Basically, they are defined as follows:
from the Canadian Law Dictionary we find that:
individual means a natural person,
from the Income Tax Act we find the re-definition:
individual means an artificial person.

from the Canadian Law Dictionary we find that:
person means an individual (natural person) or incorporated group (artificial person),
from the Interpretation Act we find the re-definition:
person means a corporation (an artificial- person),
from the Income Tax Act we find the re-definition again:
person means an artificial person (amongst other things).
In the Canadian Human Rights Act you will see how individual and person are used and how they apply to natural and artificial persons.

Third Trick:

The third "trick" of the Government is to use the word "includes" in definitions instead of using the word "means". They do this in some critical definitions that they want you to misinterpret. If they used "means" instead of "includes" then their deception would be exposed, but by using "includes" they rely upon the reader to assume that "includes" expands the definition, whereas in reality it restricts the definition in the same manner that "means" restricts the definition.

Here is a means definition of the word "person" from the Bank Act:
person means a natural person, an entity or a personal representative;
Here is an includes definition of the word "person" from the Interpretation Act:
person, or any word or expression descriptive of a person, includes a corporation
To expose their deception, substitute the word means and you have
person , or any word or expression descriptive of a person, means a corporation (viz. - artificial-person)
Both "means" and "includes" are restrictive in scope because they only encompass part of the whole. Typically they are used in the following form:
person means A or B or C (and nothing else).
person includes A and B and C (and nothing else).
From the above example, you will see the logical difference. The list that follows means is constructed using "or", whereas the list that follows includes is constructed using "and".

There is a Legal Maxim that supports the restriction of "includes":
Inclusio unius est exclusio alterius.
The inclusion of one is the exclusion of another.
The definition of the word include is key to understanding your potential loss of natural-person. This is the major trick used by the Government in an attempt to take away your natural-person rights. Unless you know this, you will voluntarily forfeit your rights.

Forth Trick:

The fourth "trick" of the Government is to modify how the word "includes" is used in order to make an expansion in the definition when such expansion is required. This "trick" helps add confusion to the use of "includes" convincing most readers that "includes" should always be expansive rather than limiting. Here are some legitimate ways in which "includes" is modified to become expansive rather than restrictive:
also includes
and includes
includes, without limitation,
including but not limited to
The expansive definitions usually take the following form:
person means A or B or C and includes D. (A,B, C and D)
However, there is also a possibility that "and includes" is restrictive in some constructions. There are some people investigating this possibility right now. Their logic is demonstrated by the following example of a definition that states:
province means a province of Canada and includes Ontario and Quebec.
So, if we presume that "and includes" does provide expansion then we must ask why Ontario and Quebec had to be specifically mentioned when they are already part of a so-called province.

The above construction clearly defines the scope of what is meant by province, that is a province of Canada (it does not say which one), and includes only Ontario and Quebec (compiled from a list of two from the original scope of all provinces). In this construction means provides the scope of the definition and includes provides the list of what is actually included in the definition.

The foregoing analysis is one interpretation, but is not the only interpretation. The use of "includes" in statutory definitions can be argued both ways and is the backbone of understanding interpretations.

With the presumption that "and includes" is restrictive, then we must take a very close look at the following definition, taken from the Interpretation Act:
province means a province of Canada and includes the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut .
With this presumption what is stated is: unless another statute re-defines province, the default definition of province only includes the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

So in order to not become absurd, we must allow for "and includes" to be expansive, however more work needs to be done on this subject before placing the last nail in the coffin, so to speak.


Barron's Canadian Law Dictionary does not provide definitions for "include" or "means" therefore we have to look in the next source for the definitions.

From Black's Law Dictionary, fourth edition, here is the definition for the word "include":
  • include. To confine within, hold as in an inclosure, take in , attain, shut up, contain, inclose, comprise, comprehend, embrace, involve. Including may, according to context, express an enlargement and have the meaning of and or in addition to, or merely specify a particular thing already included within general words theretofore used.
  • inclose. To surround; to encompass; to bound; fence, or hem in, on all sides.
It is stated in the above definition that the verb include is clearly restrictive and only has limited scope. On the other hand the participle, including (but not limited to) enlarges the scope.

Therefore the conclusion is that when used in a definition, include does not expand the existing definition of the word it is attempting to define. It is easy to be confused because we naturally assume the existing definition of the word, then assume include means to add this new interpretation to the existing assumed definition of the word. Our assumptions fail us in this case.

From now on, when you see the word includes, mentally substitute the word means and you will not be "tricked" by this definition any more.

For the Doubting Thomas:

If you look into any statute, you will be able to find a definition that uses the word includes and when you attempt to broaden the scope of that word to include the ordinary meaning, you will find that the statute will break down because it will not be able to support the inclusion of the ordinary meaning of the word. The breakdown usually occurs when slavery is invoked.

"Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,"
(Preamble - Universal Declaration of Human Rights)