Legal documents are notoriously hard to read but that’s not because lawyers are bad writers – not entirely, anyway. Anybody who has ever tried to write a document with some legal heft knows that it’s hard to develop wording that conveys exactly what you mean and nothing more.

There’s a lovely case in point amid the 104 pages of guidelines for New Hampshire businesses in the COVID-19 world. It lists reams of what they can do, can’t do, and should do. Amidst the verbiage, these are my favorites:

  • Under youth and amateur sports: ” All mouth-based activities … shall not be allowed. This includes: spitting, chewing gum, licking fingers, and chewing/spitting sunflower seeds. “
  • Under swimming pools: ” ll mouth-based activities that are often encountered during swim events, such as spitting in the pool or filling one’s mouth with water and then releasing the water back into the pool, shall not be allowed “

The phrase “mouth-based activities” sounds ridiculous, until you try to think of an alternative. I sure can’t.

(One comment I got on Twitter when I posted this: “At least they didn’t ban peeing in the pool.”

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