Mysterious information / Merkwürdige Auskünfte

1. Stuttgart Zoo – small friendly penguin probably stolen. Spiegel Online:

“She couldn’t have walked out with so many people around, but it would’t be so difficult to carry her away,” said Koch. “She’s just the size of a sack of flour.”

A sack of flour? Would that be ten pounds or twenty pounds?

2. Shiny Shiny introduces an ‘interesting toothbrush kit’.

Particularly interesting is its double function as, inter alia, a ‘G spot simulator’. Or maybe they will have changed the spelling by now.

3. The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that the two small pandas in Nuremberg Zoo perhaps were killed by the muntjaks after all. That’s what I’ve believed all along. It was only recently that I heard that the pandas had killed a (baby?) muntjak on the same evening.

Die beiden Kleinen Pandabären im Nürnberger Tiergarten sind eventuell doch von anderen Tieren in ihrem Gehege getötet worden. Am Freitag verdichteten sich Hinweise darauf, dass die beiden Muntjak-Hirsche über ihre Mitbewohner hergefallen sein könnten.

4. Austrian police slow off the mark. Just because a mayor finds strichnine-laced Mon Chéris with a lipstick heart on his windscreen, doesn’t mean the would-be murderer was a woman. SZ again:

Die Liebesgrüße aus der Wachau waren vergiftet. Hannes Hirtzberger, Bürgermeister des malerischen Weinstädtchens Spitz an der Donau, fand am 8. Februar einen schmeichelhaften Gruß an der Windschutzscheibe seines Mercedes vor dem Gemeindeamt: Einen Umschlag mit einem Praliné der Marke “Mon Chérie”, dazu eine Grußkarte. “Du bist für mich etwas ganz besonderes”, stand da geschrieben.

White-fronted goose / Blässgans / Anser albifrons

I have actually got some law and translation topics, but not much time to write them up. So the series of ornithological discoveries continues – this is (I have convinced myself) a young white-fronted goose: it hasn’t got the white front yet, although the pale patch on its cheek is developing. A winter visitor to Germany. I watch out for geese on their own, away from the flock. There is a big group of Canada geese, and another of greylag geese, sometimes joined by two barheaded geese. But when I photographed what I thought was a greylag goose separated from the flock, I found when I looked at the picture that it was a bean goose (Saatgans), with orange feet instead of pink.

Incidentally, Andreas has some great pictures of geese in the Fürth Stadtpark on his weblog.

LATER NOTE: This is probably a cross between a Canada goose and a greylag goose. See later entry.

Taking the streetcar to Grinzing

I thought George Steiner affected British English?

What has really got the reviewers’ goat is his litany of sexual conquests. He is fluent in at least four languages, and has had memorable sex in them all. “To make love in Italian is to know that certain days run to 25 hours” … “Gloriously astride me, my first teacher in the arts of orgasm … bade me ‘Come, come now and deep.’ But did so using the formal vous.” “V’s grammar of love-making was Viennese … She mapped her own opulent physique and that of her lover(s) with place names derived from the capital’s varied districts and suburbs. Thus ‘taking the streetcar to Grinzing’ signified a gentle, somewhat respectful anal access.” George Steiner,
My Unwritten Books

Little grebe / Zwergtaucher / Tachybaptus ruficollis

This bird has been evading me for quite a few weeks now, joined recently by a couple of muskrats. It was still a bit far away. In the summer, I can’t see it for all the leaves. Needless to say, it seems to spend more time underwater than above. (Winter plumage – Ruhekleid)

And here is another mysterious animal – the banana-carrying dog:

Jost Zetzsche: Tool Kit newsletter

Jost Zetzsche produces a biweekly newsletter on computer tools for translators (biweekly here means every two weeks). There is a fuller version for $15 p.a., and also The Translator’s Tool Box as a $50 password-protected PDF file (table of contents etc. as PDF). I’ve only used the free version so far, but the quality suggests the money wouldn’t be wasted.

Incidentally, the idiosyncratic TEnT means Translation Environment Tool (what we call CAT). It took me ages to find that out!

Language teaching petition UK / Unterschriftenliste: Fremdsprachen in der Hochschule, Großbritannien

This petition speaks for itself. Bradford University has an excellent record of teaching translation and interpreting. I remember the days when Bradford and Salford were the first to integrate at-sight translation and other practical uses of language into their undergraduate courses. Unfortunately, investigation of the university’s website indicates most of this has now gone.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Save language provision in higher education, particularly Interpreting and Translating. …

Submitted by Vanessa Rennie – Deadline to sign up by: 18 December 2008 – Signatures: 1,584

This petition concerns the UK’s provision of language learning, and more specifically the future of the University of Bradford’s Department of Languages and European Studies. This department has faced a number of cut-backs in recent years, with recruitment onto Undergraduate courses stopped last year. It has been proposed to halt recruitment to the MA course in Interpreting and Translation. The University of Bradford is one of only five Universities within the UK which offers this course, and yet the University has decided to terminate this valuable course for ‘financial reasons’.

The government has made a number of pledges with regards to language learning, and particularly in higher education. CILT states: ‘We want to play our part in ensuring that our country has access to the language professionals in interpreting and translating that we need…’ If the government really wants to promote language learning, it not only needs to encourage more pupils to take languages at GCSE, but also to support language departments at a higher level. Allowing these departments to close will be detrimental to the government’s long-term language objectives.

Flocke – Google

Some ill-thought-out Google statistics in the Nürnberger Nachrichten, 21 February 2008:

Dass Bären schon immer erfolgreich waren, unterstrich André Fischer, Lokalchef der Nürnberger Zeitung. Doch erst das Internet habe den Eisbären-Boom möglich gemacht. 2,2 Millionen Google-Treffer habe der Begriff “Flocke” bereits. Günter Beckstein , so Moderator Siegfried Zelnhefer vom Presseamt, müsse sich mit 42 000 zufriedengeben, Angela Merkel mit 318 000.

I get 11,400,000 for Flocke, but that includes flock wallpaper, a hot air company (appropriately) called Heißlufttechnik Flocke GmbH, a horse, some people with the surname Flocke, a flock of tables and Professor Dietrich Flockerzi.

Günter Beckstein is much more of a rara avis. I get only 3,660 ghits if I enclose the name in inverted commas. This takes account of various spellings of his first name. For “Angela Merkel” 4,280,000. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was close to the figure for genuine polar bear Flocke hits, which puts Frau Merkel in quite a different league.