Some links/Links

1. Tradulinguas conference in Lisbon: There was a legal translation conference in Lisbon recently, which I couldn’t go to. Philippa Hammond has a report with links on her blog, Blogging Translator.

I would have been interested to hear some of the speakers. I see one of them was a Netherlands lawyer-translator called Antoinette Dop, who I once exchanged business cards with in Hammick’s in London.

One of the links leads to a PDF – scroll down here to Ingemar Strandvik – about multilingual drafting in the EU. The PDF must be by Ingemar Strandvik, although it has no name on it, and it refers to a ‘study’, which I presume means the conference paper. One thing that I wonder about the EU is how far the translators are responsible for the legislation – I had always assumed that it was the product of legislators, not necessarily linguists or even lawyers – and I presume that is true of the first drafts, but these are followed by translation into the remaining of the 23 languages.

This is not a co-drafting process in 23 languages as such but a system based on three alternating stages: drafting in the source language, translation into all of the official languages and legal revision of the different language versions with a view to ensuring that each one has equivalent legal value. Translations thus become authentic documents and translators’ responsibility is equal to that of the authors of the source texts.

It would be interesting to hear some details of how the system works in practice – maybe the proceedings of the conference will be published some day.

2. In Sprechen Sie bureaucratisch? (sic), Johnson wonders why the UK issues landing cards in German.

3. law blog reports on a
decision of the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) which held that a landlord’s clause requiring the tenant to paint the upper walls and ceilings white (weißen) was ineffective if it was part of general terms of business and restricted the tenant from choosing his own paint colours while living there. Some nice comments:

Mir wurde im Kunstunterricht immer eingebläut, daß Weiß gar keine Farbe ist.

3 thoughts on “Some links/Links

  1. A very interesting topic and one that’s bound to cause a lot of strife with both clients and colleagues alike, whichever position you take.

    Re using the masculine to include the feminine:

    If you look at 27(a)(i) in this document

    you will find the following provision:

    (i) The masculine includes the feminine; and (ii) words in the singular include the plural and vice versa;

    I’m certainly not claiming that this is standard practice in Scottish or UK contract drafting, but it’s at least interesting to see this approach being used here.

    Personally, I have no problem in using “they”, “them” and “their” as singular forms, but I am aware that a lot of people appear to object to this (they probably also object to split infinitives and other “non-rules” of English).

  2. The London Olympic ticketing bods also had no objection to “their” in the singular, FWIW. Just one example, of course.

    Can’t always be done, but lately I have sometimes converted texts to the second person from the third, e.g. where “you” is in fact a party (often the second party!) to a contract. This stance is supported by the fact that it is an approach often used in the UK (at least) these days e.g. by banks.

    (See also although that is quite long!)

    • That’s an interesting summary.
      I have certainly seen ‘their’ used in formal documents, and I’m aware of the ‘you’ usage in contracts too. I have not used either in translations. In contracts, I am always producing a translation for information, where the original German contract and German law apply, so I am shadowing the original and I wouldn’t change to ‘you’ for that reason, because one day someone is likely to set both versions against each other – indeed, they are often printed in two columns.

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