法律英语术语: Moot Point

2022-8-1 15:05:44 admin 47

        1. Moot Point: Definition


A moot point is a fact that does not apply to the current situation. The fact may not apply for any number of reasons. For instance, the information could be doubtful, no longer current, or of no practical value. Moot point might also refer to a question that doesn’t matter very much because it’s unlikely that anyone will ever be able to answer it.


So what is a moot point in law? A moot point can be either an issue open for debate, or a matter of no practical value or importance because it’s hypothetical. The latter is more common in modern American English. The term comes from British law where it describes a hypothetical point of discussion used as teaching exercise for law students.


Mooting is the oral presentation of a legal issue or problem against an opposing counsel and before a judge. It is perhaps the closest experience that a student can have whilst at university to appearing in court. Moot” is an old legal term. It originated in the twelfth century and meant “A meeting, an assembly of people, esp. … “Moot court” is so called because points are debated in them, not because the points debated are, well, pointless to debate. 


Mooting is a skill that can be learned. Reading, as with other subjects, will enhance your knowledge of what is required. Read through the moot problem carefully and familiarize yourself with the facts and the issues involved. 


Students might refer to a moot-book containing legal cases – moots – to be discussed. Later a moot point, initially a legal issue, became used more widely to mean one that was open to argument, debatable or uncertain. … It’s a moot argument: information will out.”


Let’s look at some quotes to see how this expression can be put to use. In the first quote, the baby isn’t yet talking, so what Bay Staters call their parents is irrelevant.


In the second quote, a coach tries to warn his team about a good opposing player, presumably so that they can adjust their strategy, but the information was of no practical value because the team couldn’t mount any offense at all against him.


Example 1:


I don’t know what folks in Massachusetts call their daddies.” “So far, we haven’t even gotten a da-da out of her so it’s still a moot point.”


                                          Toni L.P. Kelner, Mad as The Dickens


Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz tried to warn everyone. . . how dangerous Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes is. It was a moot point. Louisiana Tech had no answer for the junior gunslinger, as he threw for 470 yards and five scores to lead Texas Tech to a 59-45 win.


The News Star


2. A moot point: 争论未决的问题



历史上总有那么一些“悬案”,惹得大家争论百年、千年,也未争出个所以然。这种“争论不休”的问题,可用短语a moot point来表达。


就词的强弱意义而言,a moot point最初指有待商榷的问题,源于盎格鲁-撒克逊时代的国民议会。当时,贵族、高级教士总要定期集会,处理一定时期内遗留的司法、行政问题,这种解决问题的集会常被称作“mot”“mote”。当然,解决实质上是讨论的过程,久而久之,mot/mote和由此演变的moot在词义上延伸为有待商榷的问题


现代意义上的a moot point(争论未决、争论不休、毫无意义的争论)源于法学院的学生。如果看过热门韩剧《爱在哈佛》,想必您也明白,法学院的学生经常开moot court(模拟法庭)。法庭上的案件很多是凭空想象的,其间的争论也往往停留在纯理论层面,所以,人们常把这种辩论称之为无休止、毫无意义


看两个例句:Whether Shakespeare actually wrote the poem remains a moot point among critics.(这首诗是否出自莎翁之笔有待商榷。)


It's a moot point whether the chicken or the egg came first.(讨论鸡生蛋还是蛋生鸡,毫无意义。)


3. Moot Point V.S. Mute Point


20世纪初,'无意义的观点 '开始意味着 '缺乏实际意义的问题'


Moot可以追溯到诺曼征服Norman Conquer前的英格兰,当时它指的是一个用于伸张正义的集体集会。相比之下,mute的意思是 '沉默 ''不能说话',源于法诺曼征服之后进入英语。因此,这两者在历史上很难联系起来。


严格来说,作为一个名词,moot现在只在历史背景下使用。作为一个动词,它主要被律师使用,比如the issue was ultimately mooted by the firm’s bankruptcy” 该问题最终因公司破产而被搁置.而作为一个属性词,它的中世纪含义仍然存在于一个古老的法学院活动的名称中:模拟法庭moot court,在这个仪式中,学生们扮演案件的辩护的律师,准备辩护状,然后像在法庭上一样口头辩论。想想模拟审判,但在上诉阶段。


术语 'Moot Point '19世纪中期以来一直被用来指适合法学院辩论的未解决的问题。到20世纪初,它开始具有如今的意义,即一个缺乏实际意义的问题,因为修辞上的审判结果不会改变现实世界的任何东西。虽然后一种意义相对较新,但它已经变得比原来的意义更常见。


It was a moot point to consider whether the temptations that would be brought to bear upon him in his course would exceed the staying power of his nature.


                                           Thomas Hardy, Two on a Tower, 1882






虽然这个词的含义扩大了,但它的拼写在一个多世纪里仍然没有变化。但在1960年左右,我们开始看到变体 'mute point '的出现。而今天,尽管 'mute point'在编辑过的出版物中仍被极力避免,但有时还是可以看到它会出现


Say what you will about Paul Gascoigne - and most people have over the years - but he remains one of the most technically gifted players in Great Britain. For how much longer is a mute point - his tank is running low - but where there is a will, there is possibly a way.


                       Russell Kempson, The Times (London, Eng.), 10 Sept. 1998


说说你对保罗· 加斯科因的看法--多年来大多数人都这么认为--但他仍然是英国最具技术天赋的球员之一。他还能坚持多久是个问题--他的油箱已经不多了--但只要有意愿,就有可能有办法。


                —— 拉塞尔-肯普森,《泰晤士报》(英国伦敦),1998910


Moot means unimportant or not worth talking about. Mute means completely silent. Moot and mute might seem like similar words at first glance, but they are pronounced differently. Mute rhymes with cute, whereas moot rhymes with boot. Nevertheless, some people still mishear the phrase moot point as mute point. But don’t let that confuse you. The correct phrase is moot point, not mute point.


因此,正确的术语应该是moot point 而不是 mute point”,“mute point 这一表达并不存在。