I knew the banks were evil and I couldn’t trust them, but I bet most of you already knew that. However, right now I have an even deeper distrust of them, and it’s all because of a little discovery I made about a very common type of long term transaction that they offer. What was my discovery? In short, mortgage translates to death contract. Yeah, I know right. Not only does it feel like they are sucking the very life out of you, the name even suggests it. But why such a gruesome translation?
Don’t you just love the English language? It has a habit of constantly evolving, taking words from other languages, and even inventing them along the way. That is kind of what happened here. The word “mortgage” originates from Law French, which is an archaic language that was based on Old Norman and Anglo-Norman. It was mainly used in courts throughout England following the Norman conquest. The word itself was used by English lawyers during the middle ages and it means “death pledge.” But don’t be disturbed by the death pledge. It doesn’t mean that it is going to kill you, or failure to pay will see you buried six feet under. It had a more simplistic meaning.
The word mortgage translates to death contract because it actually means that when the debt is repaid, or the property is foreclosed, the agreement is dead. This actually makes sense, but could have been a nicer translation.
If you think about this for a moment, it could be used for many common forms of lending, not just home loans. When the repayment agreement ends for a car loan, or any other type of secured loan, the agreement is dead, just as with a mortgage.
[I]f he doth not pay, then the Land which is put in pledge upon condition for the payment of the money, is taken from him for ever, and so dead to him upon condition, and if he doth pay the money, then the pledge is dead as to the Tenant
~Commentaries on the Laws in England, treatise