February 06, 2005

Technically correct. Esthetically abhorrent.

One of the most awkward sentences that I've read in law school appears at the end of 103(a) of the Patent Act: "Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made."

"Negatived"?

Uggh. Today, I again encountered the word again, this time in an otherwise excellent article by Walter Gellhorn, Contracts and Public Policy, 35 Colum. L. Rev. 679 (1935):

But when the legislature selected only one sanction to enforce compliance with what it regarded as the public interest, the courts at once came face to face with the problem whether the selection of one negatived the desirability of also using the other.

Gellhorn is otherwise an excellent (and sarcastic) writer, so I'll assume he was smoking crack when he used the word "negative" as a transitive verb.

Technically, it's a correct usage. Esthetically, it's a disaster. Kind of like high heels. The women who wear them always walk funny.

Posted by Carey at February 6, 2005 07:12 PM
Comments

This one always bothers me too. What's wrong with "negate?" Why turn a verb into a noun back into a verb? It's sort of like how Brits use "orientated" instead of "oriented."

Posted by: Mark Ashton at February 7, 2005 08:58 AM

It always makes me think of soldiers, communicating through radio: "Negative, negative! Abort! Abort patent now! Manner in which invention made is indicative of obviousness! Clear out, NOW!"

As for the high heels -- grah. As far as I can tell, shoes like Tevas were invented for love. The rest are all about hate and destruction.

Posted by: Heidi at February 7, 2005 09:13 AM

I don't walk funny in high heels.

Posted by: Jkrasch at February 8, 2005 10:45 AM