Some legal translation links/Links zu juristischer Übersetzung

‘Official’ English translations of Spanish statutes: Rob Lunn, whose blog I’ve only been following recently, has a guest post on Juliette Scott’s From Words to Deeds – a rewrite of an earlier post of his (see interesting comment there). He has written about his experience of the MA in legal translation course at City University in London, for example here, and this links to one of his concerns with the online translations: what approach were the translators told to take, how much information did they have, for whom were they required to be translating? This leads to a succinct account of the problems faced by legal translators:

So, this dilemma of having to choose what legal language to use does come up, and it is something that needs to be taken into account by both the outsourcer and the translator. Where this decision is left to you as the translator, this would probably mean translating into the legal language of the jurisdiction that you normally do, being careful to not unnecessarily use terms from other systems. And while you’d probably turn down jobs that are specifically for other legal systems, it would be an interesting challenge to try to translate into a “neutral”, international or European legal English. Although a true neutral legal translation would probably be impossible to achieve as you’d always have to base it on one particular native English system, be that common or civil, or UK or US based, which is what seems to end up happening in most cases. If not, where would you get the terminology from? Bar inventing it.

Rob has also blogged about his legal dictionaries.

Among these, he mentions a dictionary I have myself as an ebook: Louisiana Civil Law Dictionary, (2011), Gregory W. Rome and Stephan Kinsella. It’s interesting to see the language used in Louisiana to describe civil law. You can look inside the book at amazon, and the Kindle edition is only EUR 7.21 in Germany.

Incidentally, I do not keep a full blogroll here. I follow more blogs on Google Reader than I list in my blogroll. And sometimes I forget to add the ones I like, or alternatively the blog I was following seems to have died before I got round to linking it here. But many other translators’ blogs have good up-to-date blogrolls if you need more to follow.

LATER NOTE: Only just added Elisabeth John’s Ü wie Übersetzen, one of my favourites, and sadly read that Miguel Llorens of the Financial Translation Blog died recently.

Mox Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation/Comicbuch zu freiberuflichen Übersetzern

I finally got around to buying Mox – Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation. I always like seeing the cartoons on the blog, but I seem to have missed the book actually being published.

Alejandro Moreno-Ramos is a translator from English and French to European Spanish, trained in electromechanical engineering, who has been publishing cartoons on the web for some time about Mox, his alter ego:

Mox is a young but well educated translator. Two PhDs, six languages… and he hardly earns the minimum wage

Other characters include Mox’s girlfirend, Lena, his pet tortoise, the senior translator Calvo, the evil project manager Pam and Crados, the evil CAT software.

Some of the cartoons are based on ideas sent in by other translators, and the book contains a number of articles by some of the most famous translators on the interwebs.

My favourite cartoons were those where St. Jerome shows Mox the various circles of translators’ hell (only six here) and the local translators’ association (‘We meet once a week over some beers. Our main real activity is to complain among ourselves about low rates’).

German ambassador replies/Deutscher Botschafter beantwortet Fragen

In the Guardian. Germany’s ambassador to the UK, Georg Boomgaarden – your questions answered.

Question by jfriedrich, 21 September 2012 3:28PM

Good day to you sir. I’m German and my question deals with a very much neglected issue, regarding the culinary well-being of British expats in Germany. Why is it next to virtually impossible to get British sausages even over delicatessen counters in Germany? Would Germany not gain tremendously in the eyes of our British friends if we could become a bit more accomodating? Also, haven’t you developed a craving for these tubes yourself and can you imagine what it’s like being hooked on them and finding the only substitute in (admittedly exellent) Nürnberger Rossbratwürste? The British banger is the quintessential ingredient for a proper fry-up and even if this helps the British tourism board, I cannot possible pop over everytime I develop a craving. Regards

Response of Georg Boomgaarden:

Sausages are not in Federal, but in Laender competence (states).

Just like translators and interpreters

Mind you, can a German not spell Rostbratwürste, or was it a joke?

Bite him, o mother/Bitt’ ihn, o Mutter!

From Laudator Temporis Acti, quoting Gerald Moore’s autobiography, The Unashamed Accompanist.

A young friend of mine was playing the accompaniment to me one day of Wolf’s song “Bitt’ ihn, O Mutter” (Beg Him, O Mother). This accompaniment is written with Wolf’s usual eloquence and urgency, but it was played by this young lady with such viciousness that I ventured to ask her if she knew what “Bitt’ ihn, O Mutter” meant. “Of course,” she replied. “It means ‘O Mother, bite him.'”

Thanks to Trevor.

Meanwhile, the Guardian has a series called Germany – The accidental empire, and today there has been an odd article and some discussion of the length of German words and people’s favourite ones (not necessarily long). I remember Jonathan Franzen saying he liked obwohl. I am not sure what one commenter‘s Dampfesse means. Of course, with all the Latin and Greek in English, we are protected from ghe directness of Durchfall.
I am fond of Prekariat.

Why translations can be hard to read/Undurchsichtiges Englisch

There’s an article on the German Federal Constitutional Court on the Matrix Chambers eutopialaw blog, by a German law professor called Daniel Thym, which is really heavy going and I wonder if it was written in English or translated in the writer’s head from German.

Since first posting this, I have discovered that there is an original German text online (see notes at end). So I include it:

Nun lassen sich die Kritiker das Argument der Verfassungswidrigkeit nicht so schnell aus der Hand nehmen.

Critics won’t renounce at the argument that bailouts violate the German constitution single-handedly.

Der mediale Hype um die Bundestags-Abstimmungen zur Euro-Rettung sowie die BVerfG-Urteile zeigt, wie die verfassungsjuristische Stärkung des Nationalstaats in eine politische Alltagspraxis umschlägt, die ihrerseits eine diskursive und identifikatorische Stärkung der nationalstaatlichen Identität mit sich bringt.

Extensive media coverage, both domestic and international, of the German Constitutional Court judgments and parliamentary votes show that the fortification of domestic institutions by means of constitutional interpretation has an impact upon everyday political practices which bring about the discursive strengthening of national identity.

I’m afraid my constitutional-law translations might sound like this.

I’ve bought a book on copyright law, I think it was, before now where I only realized after I had got it that it was by a non-native speaker and too hard to read. I admire translators who understand how to mould German sentences into natural English ones, but I’m not sure I know enough about the art.

But there’s a following post by Peter Lindseth, who has written on the blog before, and that is fine as usual.

LATER NOTE: Ah, I see from Lindseth’s post that the Daniel Thym post was translated into English. That’s a relief, but it shouldn’t be! Here’s the original German.

Jay-Z analysed in criminal law/Strafrecht in Jay-Z

Via The Guardian and Slate, a law professor analyses (verse 2 of) 99 Problems, a 2004 song by Jay-Z, from the point of view of criminal law: Caleb Mason, Saint Louis University School of Law, Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps.

1. The year is ‘94 and in my trunk is raw
2. In my rearview mirror is the motherfucking law
3. I got two choices y’all, pull over the car or
4. Bounce on the double put the pedal to the floor
5. Now I ain’t trying to see no highway chase with jake
6. Plus I got a few dollars I can fight the case
7. So I . . . pull over to the side of the road
8. And I Heard “Son do you know what I’m stopping you for?”
9. “Cause I’m young and I’m black and my hat’s real low?
10. Do I look like a mind reader sir, I don’t know
11. Am I under arrest or should I guess some mo?”

99 Problems is a song by Jay-Z1. It’s a good song. It was a big hit in 2004. I’m writing about it now because it’s time we added it to the canon of criminal procedure pedagogy. In one compact, teachable verse (Verse 2), the song forces us to think about traffic stops, vehicle searches, drug smuggling, probable cause, and racial profiling, and it beautifully tees up my favorite pedagogical heuristic: life lessons for cops and robbers. And as it turns out, I’m not late to the game after all: Jay-Z recently published a well-received volume of criticism and commentary that includes his own marginal notes on Verse 2 of 99 Problems.

LATER NOTE: I don’t read much US criminal law so I had to look up suppression claim – suppression of evidence (Unterdrücken von Beweismaterial?). The article is helpful to drug dealers, who need to know in exactly which circumstances evidence produced in the search of a car can be suppressed by the court because the search was unlawful, and to police, who need to know that it’s best if the K-9 unit – vehicle with drug-sniffing dogs – is already there when the vehicle is stopped.

Beleidigung/Insult, defamation, libel, slander, assault

I know the purpose of a weblog is to spread sunshine and light rather than criticizing other people’s work. But I must comment on a German criminal law weblog’s suggestion of learning English criminal-law terminology.

Here’s what I wrote on Beleidigung in 2003:

In English and U.S. law, defamation is nearly always a tort, not a crime. It consists, loosely speaking, in communicating to a third party some fact about the victim that tends to lower his or her reputation among right-thinking people. If the fact is true, that is a complete defence. Thus, three people are needed. One form, libel, is in permanent form (often writing), and the other, slander, is not.
In German law, there is also defamation, and the word Diffamierung can be used. The two forms of defamation differ in seriousness, but both can be either permanent or impermanent, in speech or in writing. To distinguish them, therefore, libel and slander won’t do.
These two offences (üble Nachrede and Verleumdung) are part of a group of offences headed Beleidigung. These offences also include insult, for which only two people are needed, and a form of assault – if you indicate your disrespect for someone by spitting in their face, this is also covered, and I am calling it assault, although the problem with that is that the English reader may not realize its connection to insult. There are a couple of other offences, such as insulting the dead.

How, then, to translate the heading Beleidigung? I used to ask my students this question with the example of a list of crime statistics. My answer would have been Insult, assault and defamation.

Now, in the crime statistics summary, I find Insult, assault and battery. That is very good, but what has happened to the defamation? It has completely disappeared.

In the Federal Ministry of Justice’s translation of the Criminal Code (via German Law Archive), the heading for the group of offences is the misleading Insult, üble Nachrede is translated as malicious gossip (whereas it can be in writing or oral) and Verleumdung as defamation (which applies equally to both terms).

Now from strafrechtsblogger: Ihr wollt es doch auch! Englisch für Strafrechtler

and Ihr wollt es doch auch! Englisch für Strafrechtler II

recommending English equivalents for meetings with English-speaking clients.

I wondered what the source was – the translations of Criminal Code headings don’t correspond to the ‘official’ Bohlander translation or to that on the German Law Archive website, nor to the ancient US army translation I used to use. But apparently they come from a Bundespolizei document:

Die Übersetzungen stammen übrigens von einem Merkblatt der Bundespolizei und sind offenbar ausländer(straf)rechtlich besonders relevant.

Can anyone find that online? A quick look at did not produce it.

But the real problem is that German, English and U.S. (various) criminal law systems differ and you can’t just take one English term and treat it as if it meant the same as the original German.

Reuse the public/Denglish in Venedig

Something terrible happened to the English language at the Venice architecture biennale last week (29th August 2012).

The German pavilion had an event entitled Reuse the Public.

This is from a PDF on the event:

Unter der Moderation von Brigitte Holz, Architektin und Stadtplanerin BDA, Freischlad + Holz, Darmstadt/Berlin und Prof. Dr. Riklef Rambow, Fachgebiet Architekturkommunikation, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, stellten sich drei Vertreter verschiedener Projekte dem “reuse the public”.

Nach einem Grußwort des Generalkommissars Muck Petzet und der Eröffnung durch Michael Frielinghaus, Präsident des BDA, Friedberg, sprachen die Gesprächsgäste über ihre Projekte und traten in den Dialog zwischen Ort, Deutschem Beitrag und Thema “Reuse the public”.

I have come to the conclusion that they were playing with the term ‘public reuse’, which works. You can talk about the public reuse of land or buildings. But not about reusing the public. It sounds like using something again when you shouldn’t. Did it not occur to them to consult a native speaker?

There was a Fürth contribution about the Neue Mitte, the lobbying group that first formed to combat the ‘sale’ of a public street to a new shopping centre, but they weren’t responsible for this murder of the English language.

I understand that English words may enter German and then be treated in a new way. But this was an international event where English speakers were also expected to understand it.

On the subject of Denglish, next Saturday is the Tag der Deutschen Sprache so the Verein Deutsche Sprache should be having fun. Here’s an article (in German) on the problems.

Am Samstag (8. September) ruft der Verein Deutsche Sprache zum zwölften Mal den Tag der deutschen Sprache aus. Die Fronten bleiben verhärtet. Schwierig sei der Einzug des Englischen vor allem dann, wenn die deutsche Sprachgemeinschaft gar nicht erst auf die Idee kommt, deutsche Begriffe für etwas Neues zu suchen, weil sie das Englische für moderner und lebendiger hält, sagt Holger Klatte vom Verein Deutsche Sprache in Dortmund. “Für Shitstorm könnte man auch sehr gut Empörungswelle sagen”, findet der Sprachwissenschaftler.

So richtig passt das aber eben nicht, urteilte die Jury des Anglizismus 2011. “Sprachgemeinschaften entlehnen keine Wörter für etwas, für das sie schon ein Wort haben”, sagt Stefanowitsch. Der Shitstorm zum Beispiel ist ein ganz spezieller Sturm der Entrüstung, der sich im Internet immer mehr hochschaukelt, besonders in den sozialen Plattformen.