A query raised on a translators’ forum this week:
§ 211 Mord
§ 212 Totschlag
§ 213 Minder schwerer Fall des Totschlags
Translation by Michael Bohlander on site of German Ministry of Justice:
Section 211 Murder under specific aggravating circumstances
Section 212 Murder
Section 213 Murder under mitigating circumstances
Earlier translation on that site, still available at German Law Archive:
Section 211 Murder
Section 212 Manslaughter
Section 213 Less serious case of manslaughter
Question: why does Bohlander do it that way?
Here’s his footnote from the printed version:
This translation is awkward but is due to the fact that German law knows of two forms of intentional killing. In German, they have different names, Mord 211 and Totschlag 212. The relationship between 211 and 212 is controversial. The courts view them as separate offences, whereas most academic commentary sees the one as a qualification of the other or vice versa. This translation therefore had to make a choice. It follows the predominant literature opinion that sees 212 as the basic offence and 211 as an aggravated form. This made a few additions to the text of both provisions necessary.
Most of us would automatically translate Mord as murder and Totschlag as manslaughter, because of the relative weight they carry. We would do this even in the knowledge that the distinctions between the various forms of criminal homicide in English, American and German law don’t always match up.
Looking at Bohlander’s explanation (and he can be relied on to know what he’s doing), maybe he could have used criminal homicide as the superordinate term.
Of course, a translation of a statute is not suitable for thoughtless terminology mining.