“I shall abide by the rules of the hostel – the existing rules as well as any rule or rules to be framed hereafter for the well being of the inmates or any ad hoc rules to be passed by the warden in future in the interest of the hostel and the students”. I was very much confused by the terms and also the length of the sentence. I was just entering college. I wasn’t quite comfortable with English – even plain English. Then how can I understand the complicated legal phrases and the sentence running into a paragraph? I asked the clerk what the terms ‘abide by’ and ‘ad hoc’ meant. He shouted back, “Don’t you know the meaning of those words? Then how did you pass the school final exam? How will you understand the English lectures at the college? Don’t ask explanations. I’m here to collect the filled-up forms and the money you pay towards the hostel fee”. I was certain the clerk himself had no idea what those words meant. I was terrified. From what he said, I surmised that if I asked for more information, I may be denied admission to the hostel and my admission to the college itself may be compromised. I meekly signed in the dotted lines and paid the money. Why do people use such complicated sentences in all kinds of transactions? “I promise to obey the rules of the hostel” would be good enough. That is more simple and precise. If people are good, they wouldn’t break any rule, whether a written agreement is obtained or not. For those who have no respect for rules and regulations, no written agreement would have any effect on their behaviour. Before the introduction of the English rules and justice, we followed the edicts of the kings. We ascribed only one meaning to any statement. So, additional qualifying terms were not needed and the people understood what the king expected of them. In those days, no advocate was needed to explain the law and plead for one’s case. The accused himself could speak to the judge and the judge in turn never found it difficult to come to a conclusion about the case. There was no adjournment of the case. Nor was the judgement ‘reserved’. Judgement was delivered then and there. There were no repeat offenders either.