Bilingual blogging

Trevor of Kaleboel has discovered a beta Spanish/Basque/English blogger who has ten rules on real bilingual blogging that make my hair, if not Trevor’s, stand on end.

Trevor also has a link to a Thomas Sowell political glossary I am very taken with:

|Crisis|Any situation you want to change|
|Bilingual|Unable to speak English|
|Equal opportunity|Preferential treatment |
|Non-judgmental|Blaming society|

I admit bilingual blogging is a problem. I am not consistent with this blog. I have come round to writing mainly English but occasionally with a brief German summary at the beginning. Sometimes there is more German if I think the topic is more interesting to Germans. A bilingual header ought to be followed by a bilingual entry.

In my Fürth blog, I do half English and half German. The two halves are not identical. I hope that anyone who wants to read just German will see where the German is.

Luistxo’s blog, The English Cemetery, proposes a truly bilingual blog where you could click on a link to get it in either English or German. Continue reading

Code Civil in French, English and Spanish/Code Civil auf französisch, englisch und spanisch

On March 21st 2004, the French Code Civil had its 200th birthday. On the occasion, a website has been published, and on that site the Code may be found in French, English and Spanish. On the site with the actual translations, there is a link for German too, but it leads nowhere.

It is ‘translated by Georges ROUHETTE, Professor of the University of Clermont-Ferrand I, with the co-operation of Anne BERTON, Professor of the University of Clermont-Ferrand II’. It looked good, but slightly odd in places, probably as a result of keeping very close to the original, a good idea in this case.

(The raising of a party wall; terms like beneficiary heir and testamentary executor)

(via JIPS and Handakte WebLAWg)

Educating clients/Kunden erziehen

Übersetzer überlegen manchmal, wie sie Kunden “erziehen” sollen. Die meisten Menschen haben wenig Ahnung von der Zeit, die man für Übersetzungen braucht – und Zeit ist auch Geld.

Es kommt vor, dass ein Autor drei Monate für einen Text hat, und der Übersetzer soll den Text in einer Woche übersetzen (“Sie müssen es bloß hintippen”), und in dieser Woche macht der Autor manchmal auch noch Änderungen.

Dabei ist die Arbeit meistens schwieriger für den Übersetzer als für den Autor. Der Übersetzer muss sich in das Fachgebiet einarbeiten (ich mache juristische Übersetzungen, aber über eine größere Spanne, als ein Anwalt spezialisiert. Würde ich immer nur ein Gebiet behandeln, wäre es einfacher). Hoffentlich kann er mit dem Autor sprechen, um zweideutige Stellen zu klären (Übersetzungsvorlagen sind oft fehlerhaft).

Sometimes translators discuss the problem of ‘educating’ clients. Most people, even if they speak more than one language, have no idea of what translation involves, and therefore how long it takes (and how much it has to cost!)

It can happen that an author is given three months to produce a text that the translator is expected to translate in a week, and in that week the author makes further alterations.

The translator probably has more work to do than the author, because the author knows his or her subject area and the translator may have to do some reading. And the original text often contains errors of various kinds.

Es mag kleinlich wirken, den Ausgangstext genau zählen zu wollen, aber auch wenn Länge nicht gleich Länge ist, vom Schwierigkeitsgrad her gesehen, irgendein Maßstab ist nötig. Mit einer überschreibbare Datei spare ich auch sonst Zeit.

Neulich schickte ein noch-nicht-Kunde eine PDF-Datei mit AGB, plus eine Aufzählung der Länge in Zeichen mit und ohne Leerzeichen und in Zeilen (Zeilenlänge nicht definiert). Ich konvertierte die Datei mit einem OCR-Programm und kam auf eine andere Länge. Die vorgeschlagene Zeilenlänge war wahrscheinlich 60, nicht die üblichen 50 oder 55, allerdings waren auch die anderen Zahlen falsch. Am nächsten Tag bat mich der Kunde, noch nicht anzufangen, da wir “mehrere Angebote” einholen. Der Text hätte in einem Tag übersetzt werden können, ich hätte dem Kunden auch im voraus sagen können, dass ich vielleicht nicht die billigste bin.

A potential customer recently sent a PDF file of general terms and conditions, plus an estimate of length in strokes with and without spaces, and in lines – after I’d OCR’d the file I came to a different length. The next day, the person said I should not start working, because they were obtaining ‘several offers’. The text was about 1300 words in length. How they were going to distinguish between offers I don’t know – presumably by price. Continue reading

Your holiday in Germany 1957/Ihr Urlaub in Deutschland 1957

I could continue the theme of national stereotypes by quoting liberally from the following book:

Gordon Cooper, Your Holiday in Germany, 2nd ed., London 1957

(thanks to Des for the tip).

However, I don’t think I’d be doing anything for international relations if I quoted more on the national character:

bq. I must confess, to start with, that of all the peoples of Europe the Germans present the greatest enigma to anyone wishing to analyse their national and individual character … [remainder censored, but it has mainly to do with the feeling of being a superior race, obeying authority, a desire for someone to show the way to the Holy Grail] … There is also a marked variance between the people inhabiting the districts which came under Roman rule and those living beyond the ‘Limes’ (dividing wall).

Prices seem to have changed (2nd-class hotels, DM 12 to 20 (£1.0s. – £1 14s.)

Today’s Guardian has a defence of the Germans by John Cleese, following last week’s outburst by Richard Desmond, the editor of the Daily Express.

bq. Cleese said the point of the scene in the 1970s sitcom Fawlty Towers, in which manic hotelier Basil Fawlty marches up and down pretending to be a Nazi in front of tearful German guests, had been to ridicule reactionary British attitudes.
“The whole purpose of writing that episode was to make fun of English Basil Fawltys who are buried in the past,” he said.
“I worked in Germany last year and found the people wonderful.

For more extracts from the book, see the continuation: Continue reading

Abbreviations of legal publications/Abkürzungen von juristischen Veröffentlichungen

Cardiff University has an index online, the Cardiff Index To Legal Abbreviations. It apparently contains over 6,600 titles and 11,700 abbreviations drawn from over 180 jurisdictions. It also appears to work with inexact matches, which is good, because the abbreviations encountered in texts aren’t always standard.

You can search for NJW or Neue Juristische Wochenschrift, that is, on the abbreviation or on the title.

bq. The database mainly covers law reports and law periodicals, but some legislative publications and major textbooks are also included. The Index is still under development.

About the index. This is what they consulted on Germany:

bq. Basic Literature on Law. Ralph Lansky. C.H.Beck, 2nd edition, 1978.

bq. Charles Szladits’ Guide to Foreign Legal Materials: German. Timothy Kearley and Wolfram Fischer. Oceana Publications Inc., for the Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law, Columbia University, New York, 2nd revised edition, 1990.

That makes it a bit out of date, to say the least. I did a search for Ralph Lansky. I have the impression that the ‘title’ is purely a translation for catalogue purposes. So law librarians list books under titles they were not published under. Anyway, Ralph Lansky, born in Riga in 1931, is a former director of the library of the Max Planck Institute.

From PracticeSource.

False reports about jury verdicts/Erfundene Jury-Entscheidungen

Vor ein paar Monaten bekam ich zum wiederholten Mal eine irreführende E-Mail über vermeintliche Fehlentscheidungen von US-Geschworenen (‘hierzulande unfassbar’) im Umlauf. Diese Mails werden zu Urban Legends, dabei sind sie entweder erfunden oder maßlos übertrieben.

Schon der Fall von Stella Liebeck (McDonalds coffee) wird im Internet meist falsch zitiert.

Die E-Mail wurde im Januar von Dirk Olbertz gebloggt, mit deutscher Übersetzung.

There’s an email doing the rounds that runs down the American jury. I received it last a couple of months ago, but it wasn’t the first time. It reminds me of the interest in the Runaway Jury film that I wrote about in the last entry, in that it was circulating in Germany as well as in the USA.

The Stella’s are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonalds. That case inspired the Stella Awards for the most frivolous successful lawsuits in the United States.
The following are this year’s winners:
5th Place (tie): Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving little toddler was Ms. Robertson’s own son.

Continue reading

Stereotypes about U.S. law

Sometimes the evening news programmes on the ARD and ZDF channels on German TV suddenly showcase a film. Quite a few years ago, it was Koyaanisquatsi. Later, Lola rennt – perhaps understandable that they would be interested in a very successful German film. They even seemed to think that Rossini had an international future – I liked it, but I didn’t think its references would translate outside Germany.

In the last couple of days, there was a very long plug for the latest Grisham film, Runaway Jury. And this plug was constructed to criticize the American jury system. They even had a clip of Dustin Hoffman saying how many mistrials there have been, and all the fault of the jury.

I don’t know why criticisms of the American jury system make me so hot under the collar. But they are based on a lot of untested assumptions. There seems to be a general belief in Germany that the jury system is completely useless. If the jury system were a perpetuation of injustice as these people seem to believe, it would have gone out the window long ago. How can a public news service suddenly drop its pretended impartiality and sell a film on the basis of unsupported assumptions about a foreign country?

And all at the time when they could be selling a good film like Kill Bill!

Stereotypes about Germans

In A Fistful of Euros, Tobias Schwarz has an interesting entry on Kraut bashing from a German’s point of view, written with enviable tolerance.

bq. There are plenty of stories like the one a young German Navy officer told me. When he went to the UK on NATO business recently, he was greeted with a joyful “Heil Hitler” by his British comrades. However, the British soldiers lifting their right arms in all likelihood did not intend to imply he was actually a Nazi or even seriously insult him. In their eyes, it probably was a joke honouring the tradition of John Cleese’s famous “Don’t mention the war”-episode of Fawlty Towers.

See also my earlier entry about a reaction to Germans in Oklahoma. And a strange weblog by an American whose contract at the Technische Universität in Munich was not extended – this is normal – whose sole purpose seems to be to quote the German press to criticize German academia and Germany in general.

Declining and conjugating English words in German/Behandlung englischer Wörter in deutschen Texten

Zwiebelfisch in Spiegel Online (Bastian Sick; thanks to Josip Korbar of the pt mailing list for reminding me) writes about how English words are handled in German text.

How often I wonder something like downgeloadet? gedownloadet? downgeloaded? I recall the alternative gesaugt, but I have a feeling there must be a better one. Yes, heruntergeladen.

In principle, says the article, treat the words just as the English language treats words from the German: bratwurst, bratwursts, abseil, abseiling (but I write Land, Länder in English texts and can’t bring myself to write Amtsgerichts – or bratwursts for that matter).

Sometimes you can avoid the problem by using a German word: not forgewardet or geforwardet, but weitergeleitet; not gevotet, but abgestimmt; not upgedated, but aktualisiert; not gebackupt, but gesichert.

But sometimes the English word is simpler than the German: gestylt, gepixelt, gescannt, simsen (to send SMSs), chatten.