LawProse Lesson #149: “Further affiant sayeth naught”
Further affiant sayeth naught. Many affidavits close with this classic legalese or some variation of it. Other than the obvious questions (“What does it mean?” and “Is it necessary?”), this phrase gives rise to two stylistic dilemmas. First, is it sayeth or saith? Among American lawyers who use the phrase (British lawyers don’t), sayeth predominates. Up to the 17th century, the –eth suffix was merely an alternative third-person singular inflection for an English verb (calleth, answereth, witnesseth, etc.). Used primarily in southern England, it had become obsolete by the end of the 17th century — and rightly so. Second, should it be naught or not? The predominant form is *Further affiant sayeth not. But this is nonsense because it translates to “The affiant says not further” or “The affiant does not say further.” Does not say what? By contrast, Further affiant sayeth naught makes literal sense: “The affiant says nothing further.” But here’s the most important question of all: Is the phrase really needed at all? No. It’s an antiquarian superfluity. Think of translating it as “That’s all, folks!” Truly, one might simply take the sensible approach that when the affiant (uh-fye-uhnt) hath nothing further to say, the affiant merely stoppeth. For further reading, see Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 331, 383 (3d ed. 2011).