Pickled walnuts/Eingelegte Walnüsse

I had forgotten about these. I must have tried them and hated them when I was about ten. Some repeated BBC food programmes mentioned them and said they’re a British speciality. I think it’s only Opies who still make them. What is pickled is the immature walnut with all the surrounding flesh, outside the shell. I now find them very good with a pork pie. You have to like malt vinegar, though.

An internet search reveals many recipes to make your own, which should be OK if you have walnut trees. The commenters here are seeking a recipe for squirrel casserole with walnuts.

One possibility of ordering food from the UK is britishcornershop.co.uk. I seem to remember that during the ordering process, they tell you ‘you can still order 30 kilos more without increasing the postage’, so it’s OK for a group buy. They do have Matthew Walker individual (100 gram) Christmas puddings – similar to ones I bought at Waitrose as little presents. Mine have instructions ‘steam 30 minutes’ plus microwave time. They have Duchy ones too, but we don’t want to support people who charge twice as much and spend their time exercising unfair influence in politics.

Meanwhile, Fuchsia Dunlop can’t get used to the Japanese word tofu, as opposed to dou fu. I think beancurd is outdated, though. I didn’t realize tofu was Japanese, I thought it was Wade-Giles or something. But I think she is right.

I am being targeted by comment spammers at the moment so comments may cease to be possible for a while.

LATER NOTE: I completely forgot I once tasted Romanian green walnuts in honey. I found similar recipes for Greece and Armenia, and an Italian liqueur.

U.S. Supreme Court case pronunciation/Aussprache der Namen beim Supreme Court

The Volokh Conspiracy has a post on A Pronouncing Dictionary of the Supreme Court of the United States:

Gene Fidell (Yale Law School) and some of his students are putting together an article tentatively titled A Pronouncing Dictionary of the Supreme Court of the United States, which will basically help people know the standard ways of pronouncing Supreme Court case names (such as City of Boerne v. Flores and Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada). They have a list of cases to include, but if you have some suggestions, please post them in the comments. The requirements, of course, are that (1) it’s not obvious what the standard pronunciation is, and (2) the case comes up often enough to make it worth knowing the standard pronunciation.

Some amusing comments.

ERISA lawyers have always wondered how to pronounce Pilot Life Ins. Co. v. Dedeaux, 481 U.S. 41 (1987). Cajun style (like “Geaux Tigers”) perhaps?

I’ve been told that Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB has been pronounced “Peek-A-Boo” in the field. Of course, the case is much easier as “Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.”

More discussion at languagehat, from whom I got the link.

What’s the use of translators?/Wozu taugen Übersetzer?

Two news items are currently angering translators and interpreters, including myself.

1. The Bundestag committee hearing at which the majority of experts believe that German judges and lawyers who have done an LL.M. in an English-speaking country are well capable of conducting hearings on German law in English. The general opinion seemed to be that interpreters are not up to the job because they are not lawyers.

In an earlier post I discussed the problems in the first English-language hearing in Germany.

2. The decision of the Ministry of Justice in the UK to award court interpreting to one big translation company, regardless of quality. It appears that because interpreting using the professional system did not always work out well, the ministry decided that it needed to be ‘improved’. (But translation and interpreting will always run into problems – this isn’t a reason to give up trying to do things professionally). See petition.

It looks as if something similar is done in Ireland, where a judge criticized the quality of Lionbridge services.

Translation – I’ll concentrate on this to the exclusion of interpreting – is not a straightforward affair. On top of this, the customer is not usually in the position to assess the quality of the translation. A translator ought to have subject knowledge, training and experience. Of course, many translators don’t have all of those. Passing an exam is not perfect evidence.

In view of all this, it is surprising how many non-translators feel able to pass a verdict. Often, company bosses introduce supposedly cost-cutting software and procedures without consulting their in-house translators. Or they purport to know how fast a translation can be done or what translation company can do it, although they have no experience themselves. Users are widely unaware of the value of knowledge and experience. People who would not buy business equipment from their own trade without consulting seem to assume that anyone selling translation services knows what they are doing.

So what is translation? It is not simply a matter of knowing two languages. Subject-matter knowledge is necessary too. When I do a legal translation, I start off with a German text, often written by a German lawyer. I need to understand it, and that includes understanding if a non-standard term has been used – from my subject-matter knowledge I know what is meant. That means I can do further research more easily, because the non-standard term can’t be looked up: it is the standard term I will find. I know, however, when the law dictionaries are wrong or misleading – because bilingual dictionaries just remind you of what you already know: if they throw up a new term, it has to be researched. Bilingual specialist dictionaries are also notoriously unreliable. I also need to know when there is a mistake in the source text, which is quite common. It might be a contract where a bit has been omitted, it might be a judgment where the typist has not understood the dictation correctly.

I also need to know about language conventions – how things are expressed in English and in German, in various stylistic registers. About punctuation differences, hyphenation, whether to trust hyphenation software. These are all areas that may not be familiar to someone who speaks two languages but doesn’t work with texts.

It seems to me that those experts who think their year abroad makes them capable of handling oral and written legal English have already made their minds up. If an interpreter makes a mistake, this proves to them that only lawyers do not make mistakes: a conclusion that doesn’t follow the rules of logic. In fact, a legal interpreter or translator needs knowledge of both law and translation. Both can come in different forms, and both require training and practice.

My personal qualifications are: I am a Germanist who qualified as a solicitor in the UK and spent twenty years teaching DE>EN legal translation and other useful subjects in Germany (background studies and English grammar have proved particularly useful, so has teaching MultiTerm and word processing). I have no formal qualification in German law: I passed the Bavarian and Hesse exams for translators and the Hesse exam for interpreters, and there was a German law element in the Bavarian exam. I also attended classes given by German public prosecutors and judges, but I learnt most from all the research I had to do to actually teach legal translation. There are many roads to translation, and you will find lawyers saying a translator has to be a lawyer, or that you need to be qualified as a lawyer in source and target jurisdictions, and translators saying they have done the law courses required in Hamburg or North-Rhine Westphalia, or court terminology in Bavaria, or that you have to do a translatation degree or postgraduate course. Personally I don’t think there are any specific qualifications that prove ability.

The McDonalds case, as it were, in Germany/Kaffeeklage in München

11.11.2011 – Pressemitteilung 10/11
Germans have been reminded this week of the Stella Liebeck case, or their memories of it, in which McDonalds eventually settled the case where a woman received third-degree burns from coffee spilt on her legs.

The Landgericht (Regional Court) in Munich did not award damages to a German woman, the passenger in a car at a drive-through restaurant. In this case she seems to have been contributorily negligent to a greater degree than Stella Liebeck, and had second-degree burns. Possibly the lid was put on the cup too loosely. The plaintiff sued for damages of about 1500 euros. The court thought she should have checked that the lid was on properly before she put the coffee between her thighs to hold it while she took the driver’s coffee too.

German article
with photo of plaintiff and lawyer.

Court press report in German

LATER NOTE: mentioning Stella Liebeck always leads to discussions (see the German comments on law blog). The Wikipedia article says she spilt the coffee in her lap and it soaked into her sweatpants – she was burnt on her thighs, buttocks and groin.

Transblawg in LexisNexis Top 25 International and Foreign Law Blogs/Blogwettbewerb

In the list of the top 25 foreign law and international blogs at LexisNexis, Transblawg appears as Continental Law Transblawg, in a kind of pars pro toto effect. Here’s the announcement and list. It seems they are keen on link exchanges, which is something I don’t do – actually it’s rarely sought nowadays, as I assume most bloggers have realized it doesn’t work that way (another advocate of it is Jost Zetzsche, curiously enough, who is quite good on internet and software things and does regular newsletters for translators (see The Tool Box Newsletter).

I was pleased to see two familiar blogs on the list – Absolvitor on Scots Law and China Law Blog.

Hare Krishna food guy/Hare Krishna kostenloses Essen für Studenten

From A Week in the Life of a SOAS student:

9-10 : Grammar 10-11 : Practical

12.30 or thereabouts : I offer my custom to the great SOAS institution/legends who are the Hare Krishna guys. They come every day with a wagon of free vegetarian curry [but seriously, give them a donation, you skinflints] which is really really top quality stuff. They also boast the latest in trouser-related sartorial elegance ; you’ll know what I mean when you see them. Also, if you take the trouble to learn their names, they’ll give you massive portions, more than you can handle.

I realized it must be free after I took the photo and remembered Steve Jobs saying he used to go to Hare Krishna once a week for a free meal.

False friends, good and bad translation blog

One of my favourite translation blogs, false friends, good and bad translation (I’m not sure about the capitalization) by Martin Crellin, has touched on legal terminology in recent weeks.

The first entry that caught my eye was one on the English legal term frustration, which is not the same as German Frustration. Crellin comments on how often internet searches show the translation frustrated expenses for frustrierte Aufwendungen. The Linguee site is given as an example of this.

Mit diesem Wissen kam meine australische Mitarbeiterin Lotta Ziegert (mit ihrem juristischen Hintergrund) schnell auf den passenden englischen Begriff (bzw. Begriffe):

Reliance loss
Wasted expenditure
Wasted expenditure loss

Alle sind wasserdichte Lösungen – die man durch zuverlässige Definitionen belegen kann.

I have a quibble here: if you read Linguee’s examples carefully, an EU one is given with futile expenditure. I like that best of all.

The second one was on Paragraphendschungel, which some benighted souls apparently translate as paragraph jungle.

Das vorgestellte Konzept hieß „paragraph jungle“. Das ist ungefähr so sinnvoll wie „Absatzurwald.“

Bei uns bestehen Gesetze nicht aus Paragraphen. Sondern aus sections oder articles. Und die Absätze auf der nächsten Ebene? Sind meist sub-sections.

Image searches reveal some pictures of one of these.

Most recently, there is a post by Ben Davidson, the trainee, on Der Rechtsweg ist ausgeschlossen: The judges’ decision is final.

Der Rechtsweg ist ausgeschlossen is a phrase that crops up regularly, especially in competition terms and conditions. And it causes problems.
“Why?” I hear you ask, “Doesn’t it translate as ‘the judges’ decision is final’?” Well yes, that is a perfectly acceptable translation, as proven by its inclusion in the rules of Britain’s Got Talent, and on the Illinois Legal Aid website.
You see, the problem doesn’t stem from our inability to find an adequate translation. The issue is “the judges’ decision is final” just doesn’t sound legal enough. Customers can’t believe that it is the equivalent term – it’s almost a case of “The translator’s decision is not final”.

I was surprised at this. I would use this expression only in connection with competitions. So I used to teach that there are two possible translations: either The judges’ decision is final in competitions, or something else in relation to a court of law. I seem to have opined on this on ProZ in the past. But I don’t believe that ousting the jurisdiction of the courts is often appropriate. Something like recourse to the courts is excluded is better, I think now. And there certainly are some ghits showing The judges’ decision is final in a legal context, but I don’t think it’s common.

Davidson settles on The judges’ decision is final and legally binding, for which he finds over 3,000 ghits, but this is only in the context of competitions – legal translators meet the German quite often in relation to the courts of law, which requires a different solution.

Destroying works of art/Kalkfleck folgt Fettecke

This isn’t the first time a cleaner has destroyed a work of art. I remember one of Joseph Beuys’ fat corners – Fettecken – where he’d thrown some butter or something at a plastic shape and it was just left as it was. Here’s a machine translation account of that:

the famous end of the fat corner

a cleaning strength removed 1986 after Beuys death arbitrarily the fat, because it it not as work of art, but when dirt regarded. To 27. October 1987 came it therefore to a process. The country North Rhine-Westphalia paid at that time finally 40,000 DM payment of damages to the owner of the work. Because of this anecdote the fat corner ranks among the most popular, although also to few understood work of the artist.

Cleaning strength
means a cleaner – Reinigungskraft.

When Beuys was shot down over the Crimea in WWII, he claimed he was rescued by Tatar nomads who smeared him with animal fat and wrapped him in felt, hence his obsession with fat.

The latest story concrns a work by Martin Kippenberger called Wenn’s anfängt durch die Decke zu tropfen (When it starts dripping through the ceiling).

Some papers have a picture of it e.g. Die Welt, but apparently only after the damage was done. The whitewash that had dripped into the basin underneath was thoroughly removed.

According to Prof. Dr. Markus Stoffels on beck-blog, the woman will not be sacked.

Die Frau habe in einem „unbedachten Moment“ gehandelt und sei anschließend selbst unter Tränen zu ihrem Chef gekommen, um das Missgeschick zu beichten. „Da ist einfach etwas über sie gekommen“, so Schwake. Das Personal hat die Anweisung, zu Kunstwerken einen Abstand von 20 Zentimetern zu halten – „Das wusste sie natürlich, darum ist sie ja so erschüttert.“ Eine Bestrafung durch den Arbeitgeber schließt der Chef denn auch aus: „Wir schätzen die Mitarbeiterin sehr. Sie ist genug gestraft, weil sie sich unendlich schämt.“

At least according to this version, the woman had been told to keep at a distance from works of art – other sources disagree – but she said ‘something came over me’. This is spoken like a true charwoman. It’s something that doesn’t come over me often enough.