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.

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