Finding German legislation in translation

I had a query this week:

bq. Is there an “official” English translation of the “BImSchG” available anywhere on the Internet? I have a couple of paragraphs as a quote.

Since this comes up frequently, here is a note of my answer:

1. Check at the two websites that link to English translations of German statutes (and delegated legislation): the German Law Archive (the Statutes page has a list of web links first and a list of printed versions second) and Robin Stocks’ page at Carob (click at the top right of the screen on German laws in English).

You may like to start with Robin, because he uses only the German names, which makes it easier to find the right one.

In my opinion, none of these translations are official and you should certainly not rely on them completely.

2. If you don’t find a translation, try a web search. There are many more translations out there (please let me know the link if you find one). Many German ministries have translation on their sites, and so do international law firms. Maybe searching the Deep Web will help. Here’s an LLRX article on Deep Web Research 2005 with many links. – If you find a translation of a statute, please send me the link. I send all the links I find to the two sites mentioned above.

3. Even if you don’t find a translation, you may well find an article or newsletter on a law or accountancy firm site that describes the effect of a statute in detail and that will give you ideas for the vocabulary you need. Just enter a few of the German terms and some likely English terms into Google and see what comes up.

In the case in question, I found a translation by Inter Nationes via Robin’s site. This was on page 37 of a PDF file.

That site gives two translations of the title, Bundes-Immissdionsschutzgesetz_ Act on the Prevention of Harmful Effects on the Environment caused by Air Pollution, Noise, Vibration and Similar Phenomena / Federal Immission Control Act.

I used to use the first of these, but now I use Federal Environmental Impact Act (thanks to Marc ‘Linux for Translators’ Prior). When I had to translate the title recently I enquired of English-speaking translators in Britain whether the word immission has entered the English language yet, and the consensus was that it hasn’t. It isn’t in Collins English Dictionary, whereas it is in German dictionaries of the same size.

These translations are often used, as in this case, to give the client an idea of the legislation. Sometimes you will have to go to a printed version, or rather, it will probably be too late for that, since deadlines seem to be getting shorter.

4 thoughts on “Finding German legislation in translation

  1. Hi Margaret,

    For what it’s worth, the American functional equivalent of Immission is “exposure”. Immission is defined as the penetration of a noxious substance into an organism. And “exposure” basically refers to the fact that the organism is penetrated by the noxious substance. Some chemists will insist that these are two different concepts.

    This document states that immission has a very long beard in English usage:

    “Burns and Robinson [1970] proposed the concept of immission, which is based on the equal-energy hypothesis, to describe the total energy from a workers exposure to continuous noise over a period of time (i.e., months or years).”

    Of course, a few line down, you have you have this:

    “Atherley and Martin [1971] calculated each man’s noise exposure (immission level)”

    What’s a body to do? Oh, despair, despair!

  2. I didn’t mention it, but I found the suggestion of ‘exposure’ for individuals and ‘impact’ for a wider area. I can’t remember where that was. Probably in something quoted on the ITI list where I discussed this.Weren’t you going to try Dvorak too?

  3. I was tempted, but I have no idea where the Umlaute would appear on a Dvorak keyboard. So far, I’ve found everything except for the pointed brackets. So I have to find and paste them into the text I’m coding in HTML. That’s how I caused one of the typos in my first comment.

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