http://www.perlmonks.org?node_id=618671


in reply to Programming *is* much more than "just writing code".

Mathematicians, physicists, chemists and engineers go out of their way to avoid textual descriptions of their theorems and designs. Their nomenclatures have evolved over hundreds of years through hard won, practical experience. Much greater time periods than the computer industry, and computer code has existed. In every case, they have evolved not because someone decided that it would be a 'good idea'; or as a form of protectionism al la the use of Latin in religious ceremonies, legal work and matters of state; nor because they are too lazy to write their technical descriptions out in full in 'proper English' (French, German, Italian etc.).

Hopefully you'll pardon a nit-picky digression, on the grounds that it's at least mildly interesting.

Legal Latin belongs in the former group, not the latter. Legal writing has every reason to be precise, and the use of phrases from a dead language serve that end. They're useful because they aren't used or understood in other contexts.

Take the phrase, per stirpes: literally, it means "by the stocks". If your will leaves money to your children per stirpes, you're invoking a recursive algorithm. Each of your children represents a branch, and the money will be divided evenly amongst those branches, if anyone is left alive in them. So, for instance, you leave $100,000 to your five children per stirpes, but at the time of your death only three of them are alive. Poor Gregor had a tragic mushrooming accident, and left no children, so his share is divided amongst the other branches. Thus, the three who are alive each get $25,000. Unfortunately, your boy Ike died before you did... but he had five children. Four of them get $5000... but sadly, Ike's daughter Prudence was in the boat with him when the leeches attacked, so her two children wind up with $2500 apiece.

The legal definition of per stirpes accounts for more than this. You could insert the definition in each place you wanted it, as if you were expanding a macro, but whether the result would be clearer is dubious at best.

Even then, if your late son married, and then divorced, a woman with children, to they get shares? If second cousins from different branches married, had a daughter, and then died, does she inherit from both branches? A millenium of common law rulings clarifies a lot of unusual situations with per stirpes, but not the description of per stirpes you wrote.

The very fact that phrases like per stirpes and corpus delicti are foreign ensures that those using them mean something very particular. They are, in any case, no more difficult than comparable English terms, such as "replevin" or "tortefeasor".