Most language is spoken language, and most words, once they are uttered, vanish forever into the air. But such is not the case with language spoken during courtroom trials, for there exists an army of courtroom reporters whose job it is to take down and preserve every statement made during the proceedings. Mary Louise Gilman, the venerable editor of the National Shorthand Reporter has collected many of the more hilarious courtroom bloopers in two books – Humor in the Court (1977) and More Humor in the Court. From Mrs. Gilman’s two volumes, here are some of my favorite transquips, all recorded by America’s keepers of the word:
Q. What is your brother-in-law’s name?
Q. What’s his first name?
A. I can’t remember.
Q. He’s been your brother-in-law for years, and you can’t remember his first name?
A. No. I tell you I’m too excited. (Rising from the witness chair and pointing to Mr. Borofkin.) Nathan, for God’s sake, tell them your first name!
Q. Doctor, how many autopsies have you peformed on dead people?
A. All my autopsies have been performed on dead people. Continue reading