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CALIFORNIA CORPORATE & SECURITIES LAW

Synecdoche And The California Corporations Code

Synecdoche is a literary trope by which one refers the whole by a component, or vice versa.  The word is derived from an ancient Greek word, σuνεκδοχή, which means understanding one thing with another.  Although I was first introduced to the term in High School, I don’t ordinarily employ synecdoche in my legal writing.  Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to read that synecdoche was used to name the California Corporations Code.  In a recent post on the Business Law Professors Blog, Joshua Fershee quotes the following Code Commission comment explaining how the Corporations Code came to be named:

This code was listed in the appendices of Code Commission reports showing code classification as the “Corporations, Partnerships, and Associations Code.”  The 14 syllables of that title appear to make it impractical, but no shorter phrase indicative of the full subject-scope has been found. Therefore, resort has been had to the rhetorical device of synecdoche, and the entire code designated by the name of longest part.

To those who consider “synecdoche” to be too fancy or obscure for legal writing, I commend the following from an opinion by the late Court of Appeal Presiding Justice David G. Sills:

Trimedica [Consumer Justice Center v. Trimedica International, Inc., 107 Cal.App.4th 595 (2003)],and Rivero [Rivero v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, 105 Cal.App.4th 913 (2003)] effectively stand for the rejection of what might be called the synecdoche theory of public issue in the anti-SLAPP statute.  The part is not synonymous with the greater whole.  Selling an herbal breast enlargement product is not a disquisition on alternative medicine.  Lying about the supervisor of eight union workers is not singing one of those old Pete Seeger union songs (e.g., “There Once Was a Union Maid”).  And, in the case before us, hawking an investigatory service is not an economics lecture on the importance of information for efficient markets.

Commonwealth Energy Corp. v. Investor Data Exchange, Inc., 110 Cal. App. 4th 26 (2003).

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