Google Street View

As widely reported in Germany and abroad, it seems that a lot of vocal Germans hate the idea of Street View.

I must say I enjoy it – I like looking at places in the UK that I know, and that I don’t know.

It’s also been widely reported that some of the opponents of Street View have revealed more about themselves than had they done nothing – for example, there’s a photo of some of them outside their home! A picture can be seen here in a German-language NDR TV blog entry.

The first pro-Google account I remember was by Anatol Stefanowitsch on his Sprachblog. And there is a c’t Editorial too (also German – but I’m not sure if the content will remain at this link).

It’s been pointed out elsewhere that opponents of Street View are ignorant about what Google is doing and what is already done by other services. Germany had a minister of justice who didn’t know what a browser is, and the suggestions in recent years of protecting privacy on the internet have been worrying. Jeff Jarvis on BuzzMachine summarizes some of the issues.

Jarvis at one and the same time asks ‘What makes Germans go bonkers about Street View?’ and yet quotes several Germans who don’t. Our problem is some of the media and some of the politicians and how they define ‘Germany’ and ‘the USA’. It is a very fruitful row to hoe if one looks at media clichés about a country.

Yesterday, Jeff Jarvis tweeted some amusement at the German word Verpixelungsrecht (thanks to the ever mysterious Ed of Blawg Review), which probably looks odd to people who don’t know that German makes portmanteau words. Verpixeln is the normal German word for pixelate.

Amazing (new) German word in its privacy mania: Verpixelungsrecht: The right to be pixelated?

For genuinely odd German words, see Wortistik (a taz blog).

LATER NOTE: so much for my scorn – Wortistik has now posted an entry on Verpixelungsrecht as a snappier term for das Recht auf informationelle Selbstbestimmung, usually translated by me as the right to informational self-determination.

EU e-justice portal online/E-Justiz-Portal online

e-Justice Portal – hope I spelt that right. You can change the language, and you can look at topics for all EU Member States.#

For instance, if you click through to Legal professions and justice networks, and then further to legal professions, you get a general page on lawyers, but in the right margin you can click on the relevant flag, and see, for instance for UK, then England and Wales, under The Judiciary:

# Lords Justices of Appeal sit in the Court of Appeal, which deals with both criminal and civil cases.
# High court judges sit in the High Court, where the most complex civil cases are heard. They also hear the most serious and sensitive criminal cases in the Crown Court (for example, murder).
# Circuit judges normally hear criminal, civil and family cases.
# District judges deal with civil law cases. Most of their work is conducted in chambers (not in open court trials). They also have the power to try any action in a county court, with a sanction below a specified financial limit (which is reviewed from time to time): cases above the limit are generally heard by a circuit judge. District judges dispose of more than 80 percent of all contested civil litigation in England and Wales.
# District judges (magistrates’ courts) – formerly known as ‘stipendiary magistrates’. They sit in magistrates’ courts and deal with the types of cases dealt with by magistrates (see below). However, they assist particularly in cases dealing with lengthier and more complex matters.
# High court masters and registrars are procedural judges who deal with the majority of the civil business in the Chancery and Queen’s Bench divisions of the High Court.

Resetting the language (on the Home page) gives this:

# Lords Justices of Appeal (Richter am Court of Appeal): Sie beschäftigen sich am Court of Appeal mit straf- und zivilrechtlichen Fällen auf der Rechtsmittelinstanz.
# High Court Judges (Richter am High Court): Die Richter am High Court verhandeln schwierige Zivilsachen und übernehmen schwere und heikle Strafsachen des Crown Court, beispielsweise Mordfälle.
# Circuit Judges (vorsitzende Richter am Crown Court bzw. County Court): Sie verhandeln in der Regel Straf-, Zivil- und Familiensachen.
# District Judges (Richter am County Court): Sie sind mit Zivilsachen befasst. Ein Großteil ihrer Tätigkeit wird im richterlichen Dienstzimmer (nicht in öffentlichen Verhandlungen) verrichtet. Sie sind zur Verhandlung sämtlicher Fälle vor einem County Court berechtigt, solange deren Streitwert unter einer vorgeschriebenen, von Zeit zu Zeit angepassten Grenze liegt. Fälle, die diese Grenze überschreiten, werden im Allgemeinen von einem Circuit Judge verhandelt. Die District Judges erledigen über 80 % aller streitigen Zivilrechtsprozesse in England und Wales.
# District Judges (Richter am Magistrates’ Court): Die District Judges an Magistrates’ Courts (früher Stipendiary Magistrates genannt) verhandeln dieselben Fälle, wie sie auch von den dortigen Laienrichtern (siehe unten) verhandelt werden. Ihnen werden vor allem die etwas längeren und komplexeren Fälle übertragen.
# High Court Masters und Registrars (zuständig für Vorverfahren am High Court): Sie bearbeiten einen großen Teil der Zivilsachen, die in der Chancery Division und der Queen’s Bench Division des High Court im Vorverfahren anfallen.

I found it a bit odd that they don’t mention the Supreme Court justices, isn’t it? I know the House of Lords was always a separate institution, but still. It does say:

You can find information about the judiciary in England and Wales on the Judiciary of England and Wales website.

That link gives a 404 Page not found, but at least with further links. And here they are. This page also has nice links like ‘A day in the life of’, although again the justices are not represented there.

I had a look at the German and Austrian equivalent pages in English. Could be useful. Mind you, there is a stiffness about the English texts. And the terminology has to be taken with a pinch of salt – at one point they constantly refer to Länder courts etc., as I do, but the Webseiten der Justizministerien der Länder are rendered The various websites of the county ministers of justice. So one must hope that these versions are not given too much credence.

Dogging EN/DE

Here is another of those words that might have a different meaning in the UK and Germany – Google gives German sites with both meanings.

BBC News: Fake sign promotes Cotswold viewpoint as ‘dogging’ area

That means some kind of public sexual activity.

And Lily Merklin’s book refers to any kind of sport or fitness activity carried out with a dog (well, except those mentioned above).

Telepolis has discussed this:

Tatsächlich beschränken sich die Einträge zum “Dogging” im deutschsprachigen Netz, von einigen [extern] Ausnahmen abgesehen, noch auf das Fithalten von Hund und Herrchen. (“Vor kurzem habe ich gehört, dass Dogging – also mit Hund Joggen – eine Trendsportart ist.”) Die weniger unschuldige Variante des “Dogging” scheint nach wie vor hauptsächlich in Großbritannien betrieben zu werden – obwohl Anhänger der relativ neuen “Trendsportart” von Gleichgesinnten in Deutschland, Frankreich, Irland, den USA und Kanada zu berichten wissen. Eine Mischung aus “Sex, Exhibitionismus, Mobs und dem Internet” ([extern] Wired) , erinnert “Dogging” an die Flash-Mob-Bewegung (vgl. [local] Ein bisschen Spaß muss sein). Auch hier wird im Netz nach gleichgesinnten “Spaßvögeln” gesucht, beim Dogging liegt der gesuchte Spaß jedoch einzig im Vögeln, bzw. im Zusehen.

Back to sport: Nordic Dogging

Fachhochschule: Sag Mutti leise Servus

This poster is outside Erlangen Hbf:

I suggest a change of title to Sag Uroma leise Servus.

It’s an ad for Hochschule Coburg, a Fachhochschule, and you can see the standard translation of this title into English on the poster: University of Applied Sciences. Actually these are like the former British polytechnics, and they don’t just teach science, but often a whole range of subjects. The applied in the title presumably refers to the attempt to give students practical experience in industry. If you click on the British flag at the website, you can see part of the site in English. And as you can see, they have more information (in German) here.

Testify and testicles/Etymologie und Gerüchte

In the Brave New Words blog, B. J. Epstein today quotes Jonathan Margolis to the effect that translators of the Bible have been euphemistic, using the word thigh instead of penis:

“Generally speaking, when Bible translators have happened upon sexual references, they have been assiduous in seeking out neutralizing euphemisms like men with a mission to protect unborn generations of virginal Sunday School teachers. Thus is ‘penis’ changed in every instance to ‘thigh’. ‘Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh,’ Abraham asks his servant in Genesis, ‘and I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of earth.’ (This is a reference to the custom of ‘testifying’, by which anyone taking a vow places their hand on their testicles.”

A commenter points out that the Bible itself has the euphemism. Is it true that thigh stood for penis? My BS detectors started humming when I saw that old chestnut that testify and testimony are related to the old custom of putting one’s hand on one’s penis (if present) as a form of swearing an oath (the commenter, ‘Anonymous’, actually refers to putting one’s hand on someone else’s penis).

Here’s one internet correction via Random House:

Let’s start with the Latin root since that’s where both of these words come from. The Latin word testis originally meant ‘witness’. It comes from the Indo-European roots *tre- meaning ‘three’ and *sta- meaning ‘stand’. A witness was ‘a third person standing by’. From that came the verb testificare ‘to bear witness’, which evolved into Middle English testify in the fourteenth century.

Where it gets confusing is that testis also — although not originally — meant testicle in Latin. The English word testicle comes from Latin testiculus, a diminutive of testis, and first appeared in the fifteenth century. If testis meaning ‘witness’ and testis meaning ‘testicle’ are indeed the same word, then the etymology could be that the testicles are ‘witness’ or evidence of virility.

There is more, including a summary of the OED, which I have just looked at myself (thus discovering that testicles was once also used to refer to the tonsils – I do have those). The article concludes on the suspicion that the Bible passage quoted above may well be the source of this confusion:

My Biblical expert says that this ritual seems to come from the idea that the thigh is the locus of power, probably because it’s near the genitals. He also notes that some modern interpreters of the Bible envision it as a swearing on the genitals, with “under the thigh” being a euphemism which goes all the way back to the Hebrew.

I think it is very likely that these Biblical passages are the source of the popular notion that testify derived from testicle.

The topic has been discussed on World Wide Words and Snopes too.

Books about exile and holocaust/Bücher über Exil und Holocaust

I recently profiled a book, Rosa’s Child, about a Kindertransport child. That book was co-written with a sort of ghost writer, but the story carried it. Some blog readers have actually got hold of the book, so I am going to recommend some more.

There’s something invidious about reading accounts of people’s misfortunes in the Third Reich. Sebald said in the Guardian interview that he objected to a film like Schindler’s List because in between the shots of deprivation and maltreatment, the extras would be having a chat and enjoying their cups of tea. However, there is a fascination about these autobiographies. And when I was preparing to translate a book on memorial architecture at Dachau, I was drawn to the table of books for general consumption at the Jewish bookshop there – there’s a smaller branch in Fürth too. Do look at the website at (German only).

I have read the definitive version of Anne Frank’s diary this year. Unlike the edition I first read decades ago, this isn’t constructed to look as if the whole thing were devised from the outset as letters to Kitty, which made it look as if it had been at least heavily edited by an adult – but there are letters to Kitty, too, and also some extra pages. Anne Frank had two editions in any case, as she intended one for publication after the war. The helpers are given their real names now; the real names of the people hiding in the secret annexe are given in the introduction. As far as I remember, the first edition was just as good.

Another book I picked up in Dachau was Judith Kerr, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. I had heard about this but didn’t realize it was so old (1971). It’s the first part of a trilogy – the names of the books vary between UK and US – and it’s easy to get second-hand copies, e.g. from Judith Kerr (born 1923) is well-known as the author and illustrator of children’s books (after my time) and her brother Michael Kerr (1921 – 2002) was a barrister and judge. Their father, Alfred Kerr, who was 54 when his first child was born, was a famous literary critic, the Reich-Ranicki of his day (although perhaps superior), who had made enemies of both Brecht and Hitler. He therefore had the good fortune, if it can be called that, of having to emigrate in 1933 when Hitler came to power. Ten days before the 1933 elections, he had a visit from an acquaintance who warned him that Hitler planned to deprive him of his passport. As Kerr was in bed with flu rather than out seeing people, he was able to leave the country for Prague at night without drawing attention to this, and his wife and children went to meet him in Switzerland the day before the election. The title of the book makes it sound as if it were the sad story of a little girl who lost her favourite soft toys and always missed them, but I suspect it was a publisher’s title – in fact the children had quite an enjoyable time on their emigration, whereas their parents never had a real home of their own again, in Switzerland, France and England, and Alfred Kerr had scarcely any means of financial support. When Michael Kerr had a place to study at Cambridge, he was interned, like other Germans in the UK, no matter how anti-Hitler and pro-British they were. Actually these three books are said to be novels – novels written for children, incidentally – and the names of the brother and sister are changed, but this is definitely an autobiography.

I recently discovered another book of an emigration, from Leipzig to France and the USA. There must be many personal accounts, but this one is particularly well written and it is available as a free e-book online (it originally came out as a hardback). It is by Eve Rosenzweig Kugler, Shattered Crystals. It is written as a first-person account by her mother, Mia Amalia Kanner. Website with information on the time with foster parents in the USA, download Shattered Crystals here. This is the story of a family with three daughters who left Germany much too late, after waiting for year after year for a permit to go to Palestine. The father even spent a few days in Buchenwald. The family spent many years in France, eventually under German occupation, and the two eldest daughters were sent to the USA and lived there for five years (a time in which the daughters became estranged from their parents) with various foster families who were incapable of understanding their situation. The mother was long separated from her youngest daughter too. Both Eve and her younger sister Leah had blanked out their memories before the USA. I don’t know whether any of those memories came back when the book, for which Eve had to work closely with Mia, was being written.

Finally, a book I missed when it came out, and of which a film was made which I also missed – and a book which is likely to arouse strong negative feelings in many people for the liberties it takes with history: John Boyne, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Has anyone else encountered this? I can’t say much about it because it is based on a surprise for the reader, which was clear to me from picking it up on the table of holocaust books. In fact it begins in almost exactly the same way as Judith Kerr’s, with a nine-year-old boy packing his stuff in Berlin and leaving, never to return – but in this case his father is not an emigrating Jew, but the commandant at Auschwitz. I thought it was an interesting fable.

Iceman finder’s reward case settled/Finderlohn für Ötzi: Vergleich

(This should have been posted on June 30 – probably too late now, but then I haven’t posted much else recently)

In non-football news, the finders of Ötzi (the Iceman) have now been granted a finder’s reward (too late for one of them).

According to the Nürnberger Nachrichten (dpa), the authorities in Bolzano agreed to pay the 175,000 euros finder’s reward claimed by the Simons, who found the mummified body nineteen years ago. The courts costs of about 50,000 euros will be borne by the local government. The settlement means that the case will not have to be heard by the Italian Court of Cassation.

Vor knapp 19 Jahren ist die Gletschermumie »Ötzi» entdeckt worden, doch erst jetzt ist der Streit um den Finderlohn beigelegt worden. 175.000 Euro soll die Nürnberger Familie Simon von der Landesregierung Südtirol erhalten.

Ursprünglich wollte Südtirol den Nürnberger Urlaubern nur 50.000 Euro für den Sensationsfund zahlen. Auch zwei langjährige Prozesse brachten kein Ergebnis. Nach Angaben von Anwalt Rudolph muss die Südtiroler Landesregierung nun auch mehr als 48.000 Euro Prozesskosten schultern.

There are some reports in English on Italian sites, e.g. Iceman reward row settled

A long-running battle over a finder’s fee for Italy’s famous Iceman mummy has been settled.

Authorities in this province on the Austrian border said on Monday they would meet the 175,000-euro ($215,000) demand of the German couple who found the Iceman in 1991.

The money, which includes legal costs incurred during the wrangle, will go to Erika Simon, 73, who lost her husband and co-finder Helmut in a mountain accident six years ago when he was 67. …

The Iceman, 159 cm tall, 46 years old, arthritic and infested with whipworm, has since become familiar to viewers of some 30 TV science documentaries the world over.
Lately his fame has been boosted by suggestions that, like some of his Egyptian counterparts, he may wield a curse.
Seven people who have had something to do with him have died in allegedly mysterious circumstances.

Bohlander on German criminal law/Buch von Bohlander

I’ve mentioned Michael Bohlander’s translation of the German Criminal Code before. That was when he translated both Mord and Totschlag as murder.

I’m not sure that I mentioned his book Principles of German Criminal Law.

The great thing about this book is that the author has thought through the terminology of both German and English criminal law, and all his language is based on an understanding of both. That should go without saying in such a book, of course, but it doesn’t.

I was reminded of its usefulness this week when I was translating something about Absicht (dolus directus ersten Grades). I would usually translate this as specific intent – for instance, to be found guilty of theft, you would need to have specific intent to steal. But when it comes to a text that is more detailed, then I need to go to a textbook for more vocabulary.

Categories of Intent and Delineation from Advertent Negligence

Depending on the degree of knowledge and will employed, German law traditionally recognises the following degrees of intent, in descending order:

a) direct intent in the first degree: Absicht, wissentlich, wider besseres Wissen, ‘um zu’;

b) direct intent in the second degree: Direkter Vorsatz or dolus directus; and

c) conditional intent: Bedingter Vorsatz or dolus eventualis.

I found the term delineation in the heading a bit odd. Advertent negligence is used for bewusste Fahrlässigkeit.

There is more following this introductory list. The book is recommended thoroughly as one of those books comparing two legal systems that are so useful in legal translation.

Rosa’s Child/Susi Bechhöfers Geschichte

These are the Bechhöfer twins, Susi (on the left) and Lotte. They were born to an unmarried Jewish mother (and long-time resident of Fürth) in Munich in 1936. They were sent on the Kindertransport to Liverpool Street Station in 1939, and then they were fostered by a Welsh Baptist minister and his wife, who renamed them Grace and Eunice and destroyed all traces of their former life. Their mother Rosa died in Auschwitz. When Susi did her GCE O Level exams she first found out her real name was not Grace Mann but Susi Bechhöfer – Edward Mann could not adopt the twins until they were eighteen.

Lotte had an incurable brain tumour, was ill as a teenager and died at 35. It wasn’t until Susi was over 50 that she found out that she was Jewish and how she had come to the UK, and found a cousin and family in New York and a half-sister in Germany.

A TV programme about Susi’s story influenced Sebald’s Austerlitz – see a Guardian interview shortly before he died. Austerlitz, unlike Susi, was 7 when he left for Britain and had childhood memories he rediscovered:

The story concerns Jacques Austerlitz, who is brought up by Welsh Calvinist foster parents and in his 50s recovers lost memories of having arrived from Prague on the Kindertransport, the lifeline to Britain of some 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children in 1938-39. It was spurred by watching a Channel 4 documentary on Susie Bechhofer, who in mid-life remembered coming to Wales on the Kindertransport. She shared a birthday with Sebald, May 18, and was from Munich. “That was very close to home,” he says.

Susi’s husband is Alan Stocken and her son Frederick Stocken, a composer.

You can see a bit of the book in Google books search.

LATER NOTE: apparently the book has been translated into German and was published in 1998.
Jeremy Josephs / Susi Bechhöfer: Rosas Tochter. Bericht über eine wiedergefundene Kindheit. Piper Verlag
München 1998, 191 S., ISBN 3-492-03993-6, DM 36