German subjunctive/Konjunktiv

bq. Am Sonntag gehen Vater und Sohn regelmäßig in den Sprachzoo. Dort schauen sie sich vom Aussterben bedrohte grammatische Phänomene an. Am liebsten mögen sie den Konjunktiv. Gerne hülfen sie ihm, denn sie haben Angst, er stürbe aus.

Zwiebelfisch im Spiegel Online

bq. “Spräche jeder so wie du, lieber Henry, schwämmen mir als Kolumnisten die Felle davon”, erwidere ich augenzwinkernd. “Schwämmen oder schwömmen?”, fragt Henry, und schon stecken wir mitten im Sumpf der unregelmäßigen Verben. “Büke der Bäcker sein Brot mit mehr Gefühl, verdürbe es nicht so schnell”, sagt Henry. “Spönnest du weniger, so stürbe ich nicht gleich vor Lachen!”, entgegne ich. “Hübe jeder seinen Müll auf, gewönne die Stadt an Lebenswert”, kontert Henry. “Gnade!”, rufe ich, “das ist ja nicht mehr auszuhalten! Hübe heißt es ganz bestimmt nicht*!” – “Das ist veraltet”, sagt Henry, “aber was alt ist, muss nicht gleich falsch sein. Kennte ich noch mehr alte Konjunktive, so würfe ich sie liebend gerne ins Gespräch ein!”

Even more important is the use of the two different subjunctive forms in reported speech – every journalist has to know them well.

Subjunctive is pretty rare in English now, slightly less so in the USA than in Britain. There are formulaic expressions like ‘God save the Queen’ (Gott schütze…, not, surprisingly enough, Gott rette…!), ‘Be that as it may’, there’s the hypothetical ‘If I were you’, although ‘If I was you’ is not wrong, just a stylistic choice, there’s the concessive subclause such as ‘…though the price be high’, and there’s the mandative (common in US English) ‘It is necessary that every member inform himself or herself of these rules’.

(via Kaltmamsell)

Names of cities/Städtenamen

Another subject people sometimes get hot under the collar about is that of names of foreign cities. Perhaps it would be worth learning some factoids for the purposes of small talk, in view of the energy wasted on anger about people who say Tbilisi for what was once Tiflis, Beijing for Peking, Mumbai for Bombay, and in language hat’s case, Kyiv for Kiev (he also discusses Torino / Turin, but that seems less controversial).

FAZ article on translators/FAZ-Artikel zu Übersetzern

Robin Stocks has given a good summary of the FAZ article on translators that appeared recently. As he writes, there has been some heated discussion on pt (Yahoo) as to whether it’s fair or unfair to translators. The article is in German and appeared in the careers section and its emphasis is on technical translations for industry, either by in-house translators or by solo freelances, although the freelances interviewed appear to be running agencies, and the article does not distinguish the two.

Robin points out that the story of a mistranslation reported by one of the translators interviewed is reported the wrong way round. He also summarizes the reactions to the article on pt.

Scots language archive goes online

The BBC reports: Canny Scots create muckle archive.

It’s St. Andrew’s Day, of course.

‘The Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech (SCOTS) has been put together by the University of Glasgow and has taken three years to compile. Comprising 400 texts from Broad Scots to Scottish English, it is thought to be the largest work of its kind. Its creators want to use it to capture the country’s rich linguistic, historical and cultural background.’

Anonymous Lawyer Weblog

Anonymous Lawyer is a wonderful read. I don’t know why I haven’t linked to it before. I have only read it sporadically too. Here’s some of the Thanksgiving post:

bq. I thought I would wish the people who read this a Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful that this year I finally don’t have to go to Anonymous Wife’s insipid relatives and give everyone at the table legal advice about their leaking implants, greedy creditors, or pending paternity suits. It takes all the fun out of the holiday. Instead, I’ll go to my brother’s house, tell everyone Anonymous Wife and Son are sick at home with the flu, and watch Aunt Fay eat an entire ham.

There’s a reference to a first-year associate who failed the Bar exams:

bq. She cried when she found out. Apparently she cried even more when she got called into a partner’s office (not me) and screamed at. People who fail the bar leave pretty quickly, even if they pass the second time. You don’t want to be known as the one who failed the bar. You need a fresh start. Of course, even with a fresh start, if you failed the bar, it’s not like you aren’t going to screw something else up eventually, so the fresh start doesn’t last very soon. And, pretty soon, you’re working for the government. Where everyone failed the bar.

This is, of course, semi-fictional, but the basis is quite real. Notes from the (Legal) Underground says Anonymous Lawyer wants to write a book but AL’s entry suggesting this was felt by his regular readers to be out of character. Well, I would read that book – I might even buy it.

Evan Schaeffer describes Anonymous Lawyer’s blog here.

New LLRX entries

The monthly LLRX update is out. There are three Powerpoint files: one on corporate blogging looks particularly useful, one on marketing and one on spam, phishing and Net fraud.
Day-to-day news appears in the right-hand column.

Anyone who’s new to LLRX should browse the resources on comparative, foreign and international law.

Fuel cell submarines and translators/Brennstoffzellen-U-Boote und Übersetzer


U-Boot Klasse 212A
Submarine Class 212A

Deutscher Bericht in der Süddeutschen Zeitung.
The 212A is a newly developed submarine being produced in Germany and Italy, running on a fuel cell that makes it particularly quiet and allows it to stay submerged longer, so a number of other states are interested in the details.

Michaela T. is a German translator who went to the USA some years ago, had an American passport and lived in Canada with her husband and children. On her ProZ home page she calls herself ‘The German-English translator’, and she mainly translates into English.

Last year Michaela T. was commissioned to translate a military manual of the HDW shipyard in Kiel (see picture and links above). She translated the book, with assistance of others, and there were payment problems. The job had been worth 100,000 dollars. She then phoned up the Chinese Embassy in Ottowa and offered to sell the manual to a Chinese secret service official. However, the line was tapped. She later offered the manual to an undercover agent, and it will have to be established in court whether this was a case of entrapment or whether the initiative came from her.

Michaela T. was arrested in the autumn when she was visiting her father in Germany, and she is now in pre-trial custody. The story has long since been reported, inter alia by Richard Schneider at the Übersetzerportal and on Translators Cafe, but the Süddeutsche article is new (see latest Richard Schneider article).

Langue sauce piquante weblog

Fancy that – banlieue is related to Bannmeile.

bq. Chez les Francs, le ban désignait une proclamation. Dans la société féodale, en temps de guerre, le suzerain battait le rappel chez ses vassaux : le ban. C’était aussi un règlement ou une annonce qui s’appliquaient à une ville et sa banlieue, c’est-à-dire l’étendue d’une lieue (4 km) autour d’elle.

Nice French weblog – Langue sauce piquante calls itself Le blog des correcteurs du (Martine Rousseau and Olivier Houdart)

(Via languagehat)

Translators database error/Übersetzerdatenbankfehler

I happened to be looking at the Juraforum site and I tried their translator database. I searched for a translator from German to English, living in Germany and specializing in law.

There were three results: the second was a company in Hamburg and the third a woman in Lauf, but the first, in bold (unlike the others) was Max Mustermann. I see he also does Czech.

Anschrift Musterstr. 1
12345 Musterort
Telefon 123456
Telefax 123457



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Doorbells and weblogs

Stuart Mudie asks in a comment to the last entry whether I’m trying to compete with Andrew Losowsky. Well, I had not seen his doorbell pictures although I had heard of Barçablog.

Anyway, I can’t say at the moment when I took my first doorbell photo, but it was before the first posted here on September 16th 2003. And I see that was about the time Andrew started noticing the Florence doorbells. On September 21 2004 he writes:

Nearly a year ago, I was wondering around Florence and found myself unnecessarily fascinated by a single aspect of that Renaissance city of incredible art and breathtaking architecture: the doorbells.

He adds a short fiction to each picture now (here’s an example – being a literal sort of person, I was disappointed by a fiction).

I am not trying to say Look I was first! I just don’t want people thinking I got the idea from a famous and trendy blogger.