Picky Or What?

The other day, I posted an except from Thesaurus.com about the difference between guarantee and warranty. As I was doing it, it struck me that although it seemed like a perfectly understandable paragraph, on closer examination, it didn’t make much sense. So I took a careful look.

The original text looks like this:

guarantee is from Old French garant ‘a warrant,’ while warranty is from Old North French warantie, derived from warant ‘a warrant.’ Both garant and warant came from Frankish (the West Germanic language spoken in the 400s and 500s in the region of ancient Gaul that became France), represented by Old High German weren ‘to confirm, warrant.’ Guarantee is a general term for a representation regarding a good’s quality and performance – and warranty is the legal term for the document; the person to whom it is issued is the warrantee with the issuer being the warrantor

It’s only three sentences long, but all the same, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

First Sentence

guarantee is from Old French garant ‘a warrant,’ while warranty is from Old North French warantie, derived from warant ‘a warrant.’

  • I’ll ignore the fact the sentence doesn’t begin with a capital letter. It’s only a note after all.
  • Use italics for garant, which is a foreign word.
  • Likewise for warantie.
  • The punctuation (in British English) goes outside the quotes and not inside.
  • The important distinction is that one derives from Old French, and the other from Old North French.
  • I’m guessing the author means that warantie itself derives from warant, but I’m not sure. It’s not clear which language warant comes from.
  • It takes a bit of work to figure out that originally, both words meant ‘a warrant’.

My version looks like this:

Guarantee is from Old French garant, while warranty is from Old North French warantie. The origin of both words is ‘a warrant’.

Second Sentence

Both garant and warant came from Frankish (the West Germanic language spoken in the 400s and 500s in the region of ancient Gaul that became France), represented by Old High German weren ‘to confirm, warrant.’

  • Use italics for garant and warant.
  • The link between warantie and warant wasn’t established in the previous sentence. Now there is a gap in the reasoning.
  • The link between Frankish and Old High German isn’t sufficiently explained.  What exactly does ‘represented by’ mean?
  • Use italics for weren, which is another foreign word.

So this ends up as:

Both garant and warant came from Frankish. Frankish is the West Germanic language spoken in the 400s and 500s in the part of ancient Gaul that became France.

I’ve removed the phrase about ‘Old High German’ because I can’t see how to link it to the previous sentence about Frankish.

Third Sentence

Guarantee is a general term for a representation regarding a good’s quality and performance – and warranty is the legal term for the document; the person to whom it is issued is the warrantee with the issuer being the warrantor

  • I’ll ignore the missing full-stop at the end of the sentence.
  • This is a long sentence. It does three things. It explains what a guarantee is. It explains what a warranty is, and it explains what warrantor and warantee mean. Therefore, break it up into at least two, shorter sentences.
  • The last phrase is awkwardly worded.

My version looks like this:

Guarantee is a general term for a representation of a good’s quality and performance. Warranty is the legal term for the document. The person who issues it is known as the warrantor, and the person who receives it is the warrantee.

The Edited Paragraph

I would re-order the sentences, to put the most relevant and important information first, then filling in the background details. Like this:

Guarantee is a general term for a representation of a good’s quality and performance. Warranty is the legal term for the document. The person who issues it is known as the warrantor, and the person who receives it is the warrantee.

Guarantee is from Old French garant, while warranty is from Old North French warantie. The origin of both words is ‘a warrant’.  Both garant and warantie came from Frankish. Frankish is the West Germanic language spoken in the 400s and 500s in the part of ancient Gaul that became France.

The first paragraph is the most relevant information about the current meaning of the words guarantee and warranty. The second is background information about the origin of the words.

I’m still not completely happy with the result, but that’ll do donkey, that’ll do.

Advertisements