Babelizing means machine translating a text into one language, then back into English, then into another language, then back into English, and so on, until the meaning has been wrung out of it. I hadn’t actually tried it before but here it is:

Original text:

Come round any old time, make yourself at home. Put your feet on the mantelshelf, open the cupboard and help yourself.

Babelized version:

Come around at any time old, dice to form it he it house. If its feet
regulated in mantelshelf, to open the drawer and helped them.

Original text:

Einstein can’t be classed as witless.
He claimed atoms were the littlest.
When you did a bit of splitting-em-ness
Frighten everybody shitless.

(From Ian Dury, There ain’t half been some clever bastards)

Babelized version:

Einstein cannot be classified as stupid. It declared atoms was the
minor. When you it gave form to a small conclusion of the copiatura
of, the sustentation frightens shitless everything.

(Thanks to Ekkehard)

Pagan prisoners get the day off/Feiertag für Heiden im Knast

The Mail on Sunday reports that Pagan inmates are given a day off from work for Halloween.

Prison Service bosses have instructed staff to grant the convicts, who include Devil worshippers and Satanists, special privileges on Tuesday.
While fellow prisoners sew mail bags and undertake other jail work, the Pagans will be allowed to celebrate their ‘holiday’.
They can use certain artefacts, including rune stones, flexible twigs and hoodless robes, provided they are kept in their cells or worn during communal worship. Robes with hoods are banned for ‘security reasons’, however.

Obviously they will not be able to wear this Tchibo hoodie (Kapuzinerjacke), then.

The Home Office papers reveal that Pagans can choose a day off work on two dates from eight of their festivals each year.
These include the Spring Equinox on March 20, the Midsummer Solstice on June 21 and Hallowe’en – the Samhain, or Summer’s End, as it was known in Celtic times – on October 31. Christian prisoners are allowed three days off – on Good Friday, Easter Day and Christmas Day.
Muslims are entitled to the most time off – 26 days to pray, including the fast of Ramadan. Buddhists get three days, Hindus ten and Jews seven.

(Via Criminal Solicitor Dot Net and thanks to Paul for the hoodie)

The Special Translation Tool/Die Besondere Übersetzungshilfe

I’ve mentioned Jerry (Gerold) Harfst’s book Die Besondere Übersetzungshilfe before , but now I can present some pages from it to show what it’s like.

The book is a criminal law glossary divided into three sections: in the first, the German terms are arranged by order of paragraph number: that is, first comes the Betäubungsmittelgesetz with entries from 1 to 39, then the Jugendgerichtsgesetz, Ordnungswidrigkeitengesetz, Strafgesetzbuch, Strafprozessordnung, Strafvollzugsgesetz, Straßenverkehrsgesetz, Straßenverkehrsordnung, and Waffengesetz.

Second comes a German-English glossary, and third an English-German glossary. In each of these, the section numbers are given in the margin.

Thus an interpreter in court might want to use the section arranged by paragraph numbers, for instance in a case about drugs.


P. 38: StGB 242 Diebstahl: larceny (the US term for theft)
p. 122: Diebstahl: larceny (StGB-242)
p. 239: larceny: Diebstahl (StGB-242)

Click on pictures to enlarge:




The quality of the printing is good, unlike my scans, which are reduced to make smaller files. More information and ordering here.

Translation weblog Oversetter

I have just discovered that Nick Rosenthal of Salford Translations Ltd. has a weblog called Oversetter.

Nick was once the Jerry Pournelle of the ITI, with his column Nick’s Attic (or something like that) in the Bulletin. Let’s hope for many more entries.

I see he actually has a link to Byte, and also one to Chip (described as ‘Germany’s favourite computer magazine’). Where’s c’t, Nick?

(Note to Trevor: I think Nick may be into cycling, although he can scarcely be ‘Fat Nick’ if that’s so, can he?)

Bells / Glocken


I have just been translating this . I decided to call the Raumtor separating nave and choir something like a proscenium arch. When I was reminding myself how to describe bells, I found a nice site with information on spotting bells in Gloucestershire, especially by car:

Charlton Kings, S Mary, 8 bells, Tenor 17-0-13, Grid Ref:SO964204
Parking is available in the lanes which surround the church, and the tower entrance is in the south east corner of the tower, on the outside of the church. The bells go quite well, but are not particularly clear to listen to, and the ringing chamber ceiling is fairly low. They were rehung by the Whitechapel foundry in 1958 in a new frame with new fittings. The fourth bell here was for a long time thought to be by John Palmer of Gloucester. It has been discovered that the founder “IP” that Sharpe and H.B.Walters before him assumed to be John Palmer, was in fact a founder called John Pennington. John Pennington I was casting bells at Monmouth between 1626 and 1665, and his son John II was casting until 1682.

Gives a whole meaning to the term ‘well hung’.

Translator’s desk /Übersetzerschreibtisch

Further to the earlier entry, I am able to present two photos of the desk of a translator not unknown in the comments to this weblog, Paul Thomas in Baden-Württemberg (click to enlarge):


The rubber chicken was not placed there for effect, but thrown there by the office assistant, shown here:


Analysing other people’s desks looks like a future growth area to me. I spotted the globe to the left, and Paul states it was a freebee (Werbegeschenk). We note the monitor is not on the desk itself – this is a procedure with a long tradition: Luther didn’t have his monitor on his desk either:


Word division and rubbish sorting / (Müll)trennung

RA-Blog regrets the division of the compound word Gelassenheitsdemonstrationsf-loskel.

I thought I’d seen the equivalent in Munich last Friday, but it was obviously deliberate:


I also saw Einkaufst-asche. More examples here – my favourite is Katzens-treu. And there’s a rubbish sorting game that’s a bit less fun than Space Invaders (click beside the three bins).

Tidy desk seminar/”Mein Schreibtisch, frei und aufgeräumt”

This is not a description of my desk but the title of the seminar for translators I went to in Munich on Saturday. It was about keeping your desk tidy. Of course, an untidy desk is a symptom rather than a disease.

Here is a picture of a translator’s desk that looks a bit tidier than its title suggests. It’s probably the desk of someone who’s already attended such a seminar. In an ordinary office, we learnt, this pencil stand (Stiftbehälter) would be full of bent paperclips, rusty nails and pencils that no longer write. But I can’t see anything really extraneous, although the wall looks promising.

The trainer was Gunter Meier, who has a company website (more E+E – details there of his book on dealing with email too). People who work in offices have more chance to hear about this kind of thing. It’s a shame so few people attended – apparently there were 30 in Aschaffenburg. Probably there’s just too much else to do in Munich.

There was a list of common reasons why it’s hard to throw stuff away, from trivial to neurotic. I found these interesting for reasons I won’t go into. Also: need for archives; analysis of usual use of office space; how to avoid using post-it notes.

There was a reference to the way that old stuff carries old associations and you can only think new thoughts if you get rid of these ‘anchors’: the same old pictures, objects on desk, cuddly toys and so on. I saw these 10 seriously cool workplaces last week, and this reminded me. I particularly liked the slide to go from floor to floor, but I suppose that wouldn’t make me more productive.

St. Isidore

St. Isidore is the patron saint of the Internet, according to an entry in h2g2 (the BBC’s pre-Wikipedia Wikipedia) on Cool patron saints.

Catholic Online has written a prayer for those using the Internet, asking for St Isidore’s intercession:

Almighty and eternal God,
who has created us in Thy image
and bade us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful,
especially in the divine person
of Thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
grant we beseech Thee that,
through the intercession of Saint Isidore, bishop and doctor,
during our journeys through the Internet
we will direct our hands and eyes
only to that which is pleasing to Thee
and treat with charity and patience
all those souls whom we encounter.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

And St. Clare is apparently the patron saint of television:

Before she died in 1253, she became too ill to attend daily mass. As she lay in her bed, she would see visions of the mass on the wall of her cell, just like there was a TV. Pretty cool, huh?

Yes, I’m researching terminology on a Cistercian church.

English divorce law/Englisches Scheidungsrecht

(Warnung: vereinfachte Darstellung – der Rest lässt sich ergoogeln!).

In England wurde die Ehescheidung früher modernisiert (1969) als in Deutschland (1977), und daher wirkt es etwas merkwürdig. Eine Ehe wird geschieden, wenn sie zerrüttet ist – der einzige Grund – aber dieser Grund muss durch eine von fünf Tatsachen bewiesen werden.
1. Ehebruch – adultery (must be intolerable for other spouse)
2. Unzumutbares Benehmen “unreasonable” behaviour
3. Böswilliges Verlassen – desertion
4. 2-jährige Trennung und Einwilligung des Antragsgegners – separation and consent
5. 5-jährige Trennung

Da 2 Jahre eine lange Zeit ist (bei Trennung), ist es üblich, sich auf Grund von Ehebruch oder unzumutbares Benehmen zu scheiden. Das kann auch fast alles per Post und ohne Anwalt gemacht werden, solange es keine minderjährige Kinder gibt. Der “schuldige” soll nicht finanziell oder im Zuspruch des Sorgerechts benachteiligt werden. Trotzdem kommt es in schlimmen Fällen vor, dass ein richtiger Streit anfängt.

The Daily Mail and other papers got hold of what are apparently Heather Mills McCartney’s divorce papers – more specifically, it looks as if Paul petitioned for unreasonable behaviour and Heather decided to defend the divorce, cross-petitioning for unreasonable behaviour too. The papers are full of her accusations (and of self-questioning as to whether they should have published), but we don’t know what he accused her of. This reminds me of my time as an articled clerk. It’s really a waste of the court’s time to cross-petition, but no doubt we only see the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s the end of the document quoted:

1. That the prayer of the Petition may be rejected.
2. That the marriage may be dissolved.
3. That she may be granted such ancillary relief by way of maintenance pending suit, periodical payments, secured periodical payments, lump sum or sums, property adjustment orders and pension sharing orders for herself and/or for the said child of the family Beatrice Milly McCartney as may be just.
4. That the Petitioner may be ordered to pay the costs of this suit.

The lawyers.

LATER NOTE: The Sunday Times later established that this leaked document was an earlier draft of the cross petition later filed at court.