Day in the life of a legal translator/Ein Tag im Leben einer juristischen Übersetzerin

I was translating a guide to Würzburg cathedral when I started this blog in 2003. Last week I translated a leaflet to the Neumünsterkirche. Thus:

Day in the life of a legal translator, Tuesday 24 June 2009

8:00 Weather not promising: will put off trip to Würzburg till tomorrow. Flooding predicted in south Bavaria, rain elsewhere in Bavaria, but less towards NE (i.e. the direction of Würzburg)

9:00 After Googling various weather reports, and it’s not raining in Fürth, I decide to go today rather than tomorrow (just as well, since unknown to me the ceremonial reopening of the church is on Wednesday evening)

10:45 Arrive in Würzburg and park at Congresszentrum – not my intention, but the Garmin satnav device I recently replaced my Tomtom with is a bit recalcitrant (and constantly tells me to take a ‘ramp’, see recent trip through the centre of Brussels). Park correctly next to a pillar (see later).

Walk towards church, with help from a passerby. Apple strudel with cream and Milchkaffee at Café Michel, who do quite a lot of strudels:

Während leckere Strudel in Würzburg rar sind, lockt das Café Michel gleich mit einer vielfältigen Auswahl: An süßen Strudeln bieten wir Ihnen die Füllungen Apfel, Schoko-Birne, Gries, Mohn, Rahm und eine saisonbedingte Füllung.
Wer es herzhaft mag, wählt zwischen Broccoli, Spinat, Kartoffel und gemischtem Gemüse.

Picked up a couple of maps at the tourist info in Falkenhaus. Popped into large Hugendubel bookshop next to the church.

11:30 The church is closed till ‘summer 2009’ for renovation. I knew it was being renovated, hence the translation, but I had not considered this problem. Go to some diocese office next door to enquire, they send me to the Dommuseum, lady at the Dommuseum kindly phones around for me and when her colleague turns up, takes me to the side entrance. She also gives me a copy of the booklet on the reopening and the leaflet in German, which are waiting to be distributed on Wednesday evening.

I know the church used, long ago, to be red inside as well as out. It is now completely white and gold. The organ (1952) is being tuned, it sounds like, people with cloths are cleaning the floor or with brushes adding last touches of paint, tightening screws, using electric tools plugged into sockets concealed under pews.

(There were Gothic and Romanesque churches here before, and apparently during the restoration some coloured illustrations on the walls were restored and then covered up with white, because the renovation was to restore the church to its baroque version – it was barockisiert).

There are also two people sitting there preparing themselves to give guided tours from June 25th, with a large Baedeker-type volume, probably an architectural guide to Franconia. At last I find out why the Kreuzkrypta is so called, and that the Kiliansbrunnen is a well, but not why the painting ‘…den Wald vor lauter Bäumen’ (‘…the wood for the trees’) has that title, although it does seem appropriate.

12:30 I walk round the church looking at all and photographing some of the items numbered in the leaflet. Nearly all the Leuchter are candlesticks, sometimes more than one (the word Leuchter can be singular or plural), some of the Kreuze crosses and some crucifixes. The Gedenkschriften are epitaphs. At least I can use flash in the crypts (it was too dark to see if that was forbidden) and later get an impression on the computer, and here I can increase the ISO reading without worrying about the quality, although I do manage to get much better pictures from the publisher of the guide, Schnell & Steiner Verlag. The Retabel von Ben Willikens mit gegenübergestelltem nächtlichem Ausschnitt is a painting of an almost abstract entrance, in daylight, in blue tones, and the detail is not a detail of the painting itself, but a slightly altered detail in darker colours. Eventually I think I have solved everything.

13:20 off to the Residenz to do the 13:45 tour. I haven’t been round for a few years. No photos, even without flash, all bags to be put in lockers, but no indication where the tour starts. Good but routine fast tour. I don’t think the affordable literature available does justice to the images one might want to look at again later. Fortunately there is a very nice virtual tour online (that’s the English version, but there’s a German version too, of course) – it still wouldn’t enlarge enough to show ceiling details, but maybe it’s better in another browser).

14:45 Walked round the Hofgarten, increasingly slowly. It began to spit with rain, but I couldn’t be bothered to get my umbrella and rain jacket out. Here is a picture of tourists with cameras and umbrellas:

15:45 On way to car park, found a butcher’s where I got apple juice and Kasseler in a roll (some German butchers have hot selections for lunch and tables to stand and eat at).

16:20 Having located car park with great difficulty, forgot I was parked next to a pillar and had a fight with it. Car park was virtually empty, but despite this my attempts to back out misfired. Thank goodness for the ADAC.

I find this pillar deceptively oval. I started in space 227, and at the left is the car I only just managed not to damage.

17:15 Drive home.


1. Adorno’s Minima Moralia in a translation by Dennis Redmond is online (tweeted by NOVALanguages).

2. LinkedIn wanted translators to work for it for free, basically. Some translators on Twitter (especially Matthew Bennett and Chris Irwin) took this up, and this led to an article in the New York Times. (See ProZ thread)

3. The book Jurists Uprooted: German-Speaking Emigré Lawyers in Twentieth Century Britain: German-Speaking Emigre Lawyers in Twentieth Century Britain edited by Jack Beatson and Reinhold Zimmermann appeared in 2004. At amazon, it’s possible to see the table of contents. There’s now a 30-page review by Vivian Grosswald Curran of the University of Pittsburgh School of Lawthat can be downloaded as a PDF file and is very informative on the contents (the book isn’t cheap) (via Legal History Blog)

Mediocre translations, but cheap!/Ich bin nicht so der Übersetzer

Professional translation with (sic) over 150 languages.

I’m trying to define the word professional. It’s like in sports and prostitution, where you do it for money.

Ich bin nicht so der Übersetzer Mein Deutsch ist nicht so toll, aber wir bieten tranlsations der Dokumente, Web-Seiten und was auch immer Sie möchten. Wir bieten Ihnen über 150 Sprachen und unsere Preise sind super!

Kontaktieren Sie uns noch heute Ihr kostenloses Angebot!

No wonder his German is not perfect if he has to do 149 other languages too. There’s a list of the languages at the blogspot address:

SothoNorthern, Sorbian, Songhai, Somba, Somali, Sogdien, Slovenian, Slovak, Slavic (Other) Swati (Swaziland), Siswant, Siouanlanguages, Sino-Tibetan, Sinhala, sindhi, siksika, sign language, Sidamo, shona, shan, Sesotho (S. Sotho) serer, Serbo-Croatian, Serbian, Semitic (Other) selkup, Scots, Sardinian, Sanskrit, sango, sandawe, Samoan, Sami languages, Samaritan Aramaic, Salishanlanguages, Russian, Rundi, Romany, Romanian, Romance (Other), Rhaeto-Rom (Romansch) Rarotongan, Rajasthani, Quechua, Pushto, ProvencalOld (to1500) Prakritlanguages, Portuguese, Polish, Pohnpeian, Phoenician, PersianOld (ca600-400B.C.), Persian (Farsi ), Papua-Australia (Other), the papiamento, Panjabi, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Pali, Palauan, Pahlavi, Ovambo, Ottoman Otomianlanguages, Ossetic, Osage, Oromo, Oriya, Ojibwe, nzima, nyoro, nyankole, Nyanja, nyamwezi , Nubianlanguages, Norwegian (Nynorsk) Norwegian (Bokmal), Norwegian, NorthAmerican Indian (Other), Norse, Niuean, Nilo-Saharan (Other), Nigeria, Niger-Kordofanian (Other), Newari, Nepali, Ndongo, NdebeleSouth, North Ndebele , Navajo, Nauru, Nahuatl (Aztec), Muong, Mundalanguages, Multiple languages, Mossi, Mordvinian, Mongolian, Mongo, Mon-Khmer (Other) Moldavian, mohawk, Mixtecos, minangkabau, micmac, Miao, Meo, Mende, Mbundu, Mayan languages, masai, marwari, Marshall, Mari, Marathi, Maori, the Isle of Man, Manobolanguages, Manipuri, mandingo, Maltese, Dutch, Malayalam, Malay, Malagasy, Makasar, Maithili, Magahi, Madurese, Macedonian, Luo (Kenya, Tanzania), Lunda, Luiseno, Luba-Katanga, lozi, Lithuanian, lingala, Lezghian, Luxemburgish, Latvian, Latin, Laos, Langued’Oc, lamba, lahnda, Ladino, kutenai, Kusaie, kurukh, Kurdish, kumyk, kuanyama, Kru, Kpelle, Korean, konkani, kongo, Komi, klingon, kirghiz, Kinyarwanda, Kikuyu, Khotanese, Khoisan (Other), Khmer, Khasi, Kazakh, Kayah, Kawi, Kashubian, Kashmiri, Karen, Karakalpak, kanuri, Kannada (Kanarese) kamba, Kalmyk-Oirat, Kadazan, Kachin, kabyle, Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Arabic, Javanese, Japanese, Italian, Iroquoian languages, Old Irish (to 900), the Irish Middle (900-1200), the Irish, the Iranian (Other), Inupiak, Inuktitut, interlingue, interlingua, Indonesia, Indochina, Europe (Other), Indic (Other) Iloko, Ijo, Igbo, Icelandic, Iban, I-Kiribati, Hupa, Hungarian, hmong, HiriMotu , hindi, Himachali, Hiligaynon, herero, Hebrew, Hawaiian, hausa, Haitian-Creole, Haida, gujarati, Guarani, Greenland, Greek (Ancient), Greek, Grebo, gothic, Gondi, Gilbertese, former High German (ca.750 – 1050), German Middle High (ca.1050-1500) Germanic (Other), German, Georgian, Geez, Gayo, ganda, Galician, Gaelic, Ga, Fulani, Fula, Friulian, Frisian, Old French (842 — ca.1400), the French Middle (ca.1400-1600), French, Formosa, Fon, Flemish, Finno-Ugrian (Other), Finnish, Fijian, Farsi (Persian), the Faroe Islands, Fanti (Fante ), Fang, Fanagalo, ewondo, Ewe, Estonian, Esperanto, Eskimo (Other), Old English (ca.450 – 1100), English Middle (ca.1100-1500), English, Elamite, ekajuk, Egyptian (ancient) Efik, dzongkha, Dyula, Dutch Middle (ca.1050-1350), Dutch, Duala, Dravidian (Other) dogri, Divehi, dinka, Dida, Delaware, dayak, Dari, Danish, Damara, Dakota, Czech, Cushitic (Other ), Croatian, Creoles and Pidgins (Portuguese-based Other) Creoles and Pidgins (Other) Creoles and Pidgins (French-based Other) Creoles and Pidgins (English-based Other), Creek, Cree, Corsican, Cornish, Coptic, the Cook Islands Maori, Chuvash, Chuukese, Church Slavic, Choctaw, Chinookjargon, Chinese, Chin, chibcha, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Chechen, Chamorro, Cham, Chagatai, Central American Indian (Other), Celtic (Other) Cebuano (Bisayan), Caucasian (Other), the Catalan, the Caribbean, Caddo, Myanmar, Buriat, Bulgarian, Bugie, Breton, Braj, Brahui, Bosnian, bislama, Bini, Bikol, Bihari, Bhojpuri (& Tharu) , Berber (Other), Bengali, Bemba, Belarusian, Beja, the Basque, bashkir, Basa, Bantu (Other), banda, Bamileke languages, bambara, baluchi, Baltic (Other), Balinese, Azerbaijan, Aymara, Awadhi, Avestan , Avar, Austronesian (Other), Athapascan languages, Asturian, Assamese, Artificial (Other), Armenian, Arawak, Araucanian, arapaho, Aramaic, Arabic, Apache languages, ancient Hebrew, Amharic, Altaic (Other), Algonquian languages, Aleut, Albanian, Akkadian, Akan, Afro-Asiatic (Other), the afrikaans, afrihili, Afar, adangme, acoli, achinese, Abkhazian, South American Indian (Other), Spanish, sukuma, Sumerian, Sundanese, Susu, Swahili, Swedish, Sylheti , Syriac, Tagalog, Tahitian, Tajik, Tamang Tamashek, Tamil, Tatar, Telugu, Tereno, Tetum, Thai, Tibetan, Tigre, Tigrinya, Time Tivi, Tlingit, Tonga (Nya) Tonga (TongaIslands), Truk, Tsimshian , Tsonga, Tswana, tumbuka, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Tuvinian, Twi, Ugaritic, Uighur, Ukrainian, Ulithi, Umbundu, Urdu, Uzbek Vai Valencia, Venda, Vietnamese, Volapk, Votic, Wakashanlanguages, Walamo, waray, washo , Welsh, Woleai, Wolof, Xhosa, Yakut, Yao, Yapese, Yi, yiddish, yoruba, Zapotec, Zenaga, Zhuang (Chuang) Zulu, Zuni

St. Lilian

The most beautiful view of the city can be had from the Festung Marienberg (fortress). From the 15th-century Old Main Bridge, with its statues of the Franconian apostles of Lilian, Totnan and Kolonat, the Romanesque Cathedral dominates the view.

Found here.

I was actually wondering whether it was OK in English to refer to Kilian, Kolonat and Totnan as the Franconian apostles. Apparently it is, although this site would not persuade me.

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon/Wie heißt es auf Deutsch?

This expression I encountered in La fille de la ville:

A few days ago, Flojindamesa over at Eat Drink Nola posted about Baru, a Caribbean/Tapas restaurant on Magazine Street. Of course after reading her post, Baader-Meinhof Syndrome set in and I saw Baru mentioned everywhere!

The meaning is obvious from the context; Wikipedia has more:

The “Baader-Meinhof phenomenon” was coined by a reader of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Terry Mullen. The Minnesota newspaper runs a daily column called “Bulletin Board,” for which readers, using pseudonyms (in this case it was ‘Gigetto on Lincoln’), submit humorous or interesting anecdotes. The term was coined when Mullen submitted a story around 1986,[1] about how he first heard about the terrorist group known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang and then heard about it again a short while later from a different source.

What term do Germans use for this phenomenon? After all, Baader-Meinhof is scarcely trivial information over here.


This is a mysterious ad from the current version of the booklet announcing the BDÜ September translation conference in Berlin:

Weird. This is the best I can do for the most common pronunciation:
sım baı ‘ǝʊs ıs

The o sound in the third syllable is a bit different in the US. The second syllable suggestion is less common than mine, and the schwa in the last syllable is recorded as non-RP British in the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary.

Mind you, their use of an o indicates they are not using the IPA. I am open to correction!

Fritzl book for Father’s Day?

The shops in England are full of displays for Father’s Day.

The Independent, in Fritzl: a perfect gift for Father’s Day, say Tesco and WH Smith, reports that some retailers had the book The Crimes of Josef Fritzl in their Father’s Day displays:

But to some branches of Tesco and W H Smith, The Crimes of Josef Fritzl: Uncovering the Truth seemed a surefire hit for the Dad market. The book, which details how the Austrian, now 74, imprisoned his daughter Elisabeth in his cellar for 24 years, repeatedly raping her and fathering her seven children, has featured as a Father’s Day promotion.

One amazon reviewer writes:

And that’s the terrifying part, you really start to understand the dysfunctional family dynamics. Dynamics that started way before Elizabeth, that were born out of the atrocities of Nazi Austria and his horrifying one-eyed mother. This is a really great read.

One Tesco shop apparently had to think twice before removing the book from the display.

Basilique de Koekelberg

This basilica is not usually part of the route from Upminster to Fürth, at least not since the Brussels orbital motorway was built. It’s a good idea to try the detour in afternoon rush-hour, so there’s time to take a photo. Photos of the King Leopold II tunnel and various immigrant grocery shops are unfortunately missing.

Here is the last food before the Eurotunnel (Folkestone side):

and here the view approaching the tunnel on the Calais side: