Translators at Federal Court of Justice/Uebersetzer beim BGH

On 18 June, five lawsuits by literary translators relating to appropriate payment will be heard by the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof).

beck-blog reports:

Die Honorare für Literaturübersetzer sind seit Jahrzehnten meist katastrophal: Bei der letzten, nicht repräsentativen Honorarumfrage ergab sich ein Durchschnittshonorar je Manuskript-Normseite mit 30 Zeilen zu maximal 60 Anschlägen (die also keineswegs mit l 800 Zeichen gleichzusetzen ist) in Höhe von 17,83 Euro; allerdings sind für „einfache” Übersetzungen Normseitenhonorare von unter 10 Euro im Taschenbuch keine Seltenheit. Das Paradox bei den Seitenhonoraren ist, dass Qualität „bestraft” wird: Je mehr Aufwand der Übersetzer betreibt, desto weniger zahlt sich die Arbeit für ihn aus.

The concept of ‘appropriate/adequate compensation’ has been contained in the German Copyright Act since 2002. The translators have not seen an improvement of their situation. The June 18 decision will be interesting.

For further information:

9 thoughts on “Translators at Federal Court of Justice/Uebersetzer beim BGH

  1. It’s a pity the 5 literary translators had to resort to legal action instead of taking the trouble to retrain as non-literary e.g. engineering/ patent, medical or legal/ financial translators. These ‘technical’ subjects may be like chewing on stewed wood but it’s been well known for almost a 100 years that they are where the money is – and not working for oft-ailing literary-only publishers. There may be, German into English and vice versa, 100 applicants for the translation of a novel, play or anthology of poetry, whilst all 4 welding and soldering translators in Europe can expect 100 well-paid job-offers a year each, yawn, yawn…

    • I slightly expanded the description. I did feel full, as proved by my feelings when looking in the window of Confiserie Neef just afterwards. Oh, and they did not give our canine companion water until requested (but then again he didn’t drink it).

  2. Great post! Couple of questions:

    – Was it your birthday? Or were you celebrating the blog bday?

    – Hate to ask, but did they have a vegetarian option?

    – This reminds me a bit of Hotel Kraft in Basel. I know it’s tasteless to ask, but I’m a numbers person and am curious how much this set you back, w/o bevvies? Something similar at Kraft, but only 3 courses, is about CHF 100. We celebrate our wedding anniversary every year in Switzerland and rarely get by under CHF 300 total for 2. Still makes me gulp, every time.

    • It was for my birthday, although later. We wanted to go in the evening but had to change the date to lunchtime. The evening menu was described outside as EUR 104: Sellerie mit Apfel, Seesaibling + Bl(umenkohl?), K

      • Thanks for the info! See, it was hard to tell – one could almost think this was a 10-course meal from your pictures. Love the Kalbskopf with nails (?!). The photo of the menu is very legible.

        The prices seem comparable to Switzerland although here it looks like you actually get something for that. Everything’s relative I suppose.

        The closest thing we have to this in Erfurt I’d say is Restaurant Zumnorde. I’m not saying who, but someone in our household is celebrating a birthday next week, and so that’s probably where we’ll end up for dinner.

        BTW happy belated birthday and blog birthday.

        • Thanks. Yes, the little containers for various goodies are rather fun. The one for the chocolate enables you to break off bits of chocolate without touching the rest. I am sure they aren’t the only restaurant that uses them.

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