Translating Rechtsbehelf

The word Rechtsbehelf is a problem to translate into English. I will quote my earlier entry:

Rechtsbehelfe are either 1) Rechtsmittel – appeals to a higher court (Berufung, Revision, Beschwerde) or 2) [nameless] – appeals on the same level (Einspruch, Widerspruch, Erinnerung, Gegenvorstellung)
I think I would call the whole lot appeals.

I suppose people who use the term in German aren’t always sure what they’re saying. Or maybe they don’t understand the word recourse in English.

Sue Turton, the Channel Four journalist whose bum was pinched by a passer-by as she was reporting live from the floods (video), said (my emphasis):

I’ve no desire to punish this man through the courts. But I did wonder if I accepted such behaviour without complaint what hope do women who are groped in public in this way have of any recourse?
I personally found the matter quite humiliating and somewhat disrespectful to the plight of those I was reporting about.
Some may say I’m being prudish. It’s true I’ve been in much more threatening situations throughout my reporting career, but they were in far flung places where personal space isn’t a priority.

The German version:

Turton wolle ihn nicht anzeigen, sagt sie. Jedoch die Polizei solle ihm auf die Finger klopfen, “welche Hoffnung auf Rechtsbehelf können Frauen ansonsten überhaupt haben”, so Turton.

He’s going to get a fixed-penalty notice (something like a Bußgeldbescheid).

Thames Valley Police have asked Channel 4 News for a video of the incident – which can also be viewed on YouTube – and told MediaGuardian.co.uk that they intended to issue the culprit with an £80 fixed-penalty notice for a public order offence.

Now obviously Sue Turton didn’t want an appeal – she doesn’t even want first-instance proceedings. She meant something like Abhilfe, although not quite that. Of course I suppose remedy is a synonym, but (see the same earlier entry) that isn’t easy to translate either.

But what happened in this case? The German who translated the text was not quite familiar with either the English or the German term, but knew they sounded vaguely legal, so they must be right?

(Via Werner Siebers)

11 thoughts on “Translating Rechtsbehelf

  1. The internal(Patent Office)appeal process of an Erinnerung – Germany-only and unknown in Au/CH? – seems to floor a lot of DE/EN translators who think this is sthg to do with a reminder.

    The similarly misleading, but closely linked, French term of ‘recours gracieux’ is nowt to do with a gracious remedy, but as FHS Bridge’s Council of Europe glossary long-windedly opines: ‘application to the same administrative authority to reconsider its decision’.

  2. The (new) legal writer wrote about the word shall recently, with a link to Ken Adams, and in particular an article by Ken in the New York Law Journal.

    I agree that it’s probably best to take an intermediate line – neither completely avoid shall like t

  3. What’s with the ‘[only]’ in the sixth example cited?

    Doesn’t that word belong before ‘by taking the following steps’, rather than before ‘make’?

    • Did this come up in the feed? It’s an old entry I just revived because I intend to refer back to it. I don’t know about the only. Try the Clarity link at the top. The quote refers only to the use of ‘you’ and apparently it has been edited in some way, but I don’t know why.
      Whether the original was meant to mean ‘only by taking the following steps’ or ‘this is the only claim you can make’ I do not know.

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