Pişmaniye – Keten helva

There’s always a lot to write about legal translation, but now for something more important.

When I first saw pişmaniye and read the translation cotton candy (US for candy floss, German Zuckerwatte) but the ingredients only 50% sugar, the rest flour and butter, I was curious.

It’s very light and fluffy and difficult to eat without getting it everywhere.

My local source was taken over by another firm and had only one box, chocolate-covered, left. I didn’t really want the chocolate, but it was good because it was very thinly coated and the chocolate coat made it easier not to make a mess – though not impossible, I can attest.

So I was excited when I got my hands, or rather my ereader, on Sherbet and Spice: The Complete Story of Turkish Sweets and Desserts by Mary Işin (the last i in the surname should not have a dot). I think I read about it in a tweet from Robyn Eckhardt, of the Eating Asia blog.

The blurb says:

Mary Isin has lived in Turkey since 1973 and started researching Ottoman cuisine in 1983. She is the author of a Turkish cookery book, an encyclopedic dictionary of Ottoman cuisine and a transcription of an Ottoman cookery book as well as many articles on food history. She is also editor of A King’s Confectioner in the Orient and an eighteenth-century Turkish dictionary of Persian culinary terms.

The book appeared in Turkish first.

She calls pişmaniye, which has many names, keten helva (linen helva). Apparently it used to be made with great effort by several people on one evening in the days before television.

Keten helva is made in three stages: first flour and melted butter are stirred over heat for nearly an hour. Then sugar syrup is boiled to crack, pulled until it turns white and satiny, and shaped into a ring about 20 centimetres in diameter. Now comes the stages that requires the greatest skill. The pulled sugar ring is generously sprinkled with roasted flour and placed in the centre of a large circular tray. Three, four or more people sit around the tray, place both hands on the right and squeeze it, simultaneously moving it in an anticlockwise direction.

Here are two of the illustrations:

Pişmaniye is made by machine nowadays, or partly by machine. See this video (thanks Bettina!).

And here’s a video with English voiceover – Dan Arnold shows how to make Hand-Pulled Cotton Candy: Dragon’s Beard, Pashmak, Pishmanie.


More useful links to other people’s admirable work!

1. Isa Bogdan describes why, for literary translators in Germany, a standard page (Normseite) does not mean 1800 keystrokes. It goes back to typewriter days and includes short lines. This is known to many translators, but not to all clients. The kind of translations I do are not charged by the page, and even when I worked for publishers I worked by the line, but it’s worth knowing this. I know the EU has pages too, but they are different.

Die Normseite stammt noch aus der Schreibmaschinenzeit. Damals ging es darum, über einen bestimmten Rahmen nicht hinauszuschreiben. Übersetzer bekamen teilweise sogar vom Verlag Papier geschickt, auf dem dieser Rahmen aufgedruckt war. Hinein passten genau dreißig Zeilen mit jeweils höchstens sechzig Anschlägen. Schreibmaschinenschriften waren ja nicht proportional, sodass immer gleichviele Buchstaben in eine Zeile passten.

2. Timothy Cooper, a senior terminologist at the EU, gave a talk in London recently on IATE, the EU terminology database that many translators consult online. In his blog A Pragmatic Eye, Charlie Bavington gives a full account of this talk. This contains useful information such as not to select a domain when searching, as there are too many domains and terms may not be filed under the logical domain. Nor should you even search for a specific pair of languages.

Summary search tips:
– Don’t use plurals
– Ignore domains
– Search on all languages, not a pair
– The “reliability” star rating is not to be relied upon.

This looks like useful advice, and I may give IATE another chance. I remember hearing at a talk years ago that a lot of the earliest IATE material was made available free online because the quality checking system was not reliable. Mind you, my own terminology database is a mess, and they do say many cooks spoil the broth.

Jury duty/Geschworenenauswahl in den USA

Jury duty is an important matter. Trial by jury is a constitutional right in many cases. The Immortal Alcoholic saw an apparently drunk woman who was called for jury duty but escaped before being given a breathalyzer:

First Bailiff: “Are you drunk?”
Potential Juror: “No. I’m Ashley.” She held out a very shaky hand to the Bailiff, but he rebuffed the salutation. Ms Ashley’s mother stood next to her with a support hand at the back center of her daughter’s waist.

Second Bailiff: “What’s in your drinking glass, Ms. Ashley?”

Ms Ashley: “It’s OK. It’s just water.”
Second Bailiff: “You won’t be able to take that glass into the courtroom.”

Ms Ashley: “It’s OK. It’s just water.”
Ms Ashley walked away (with the aide of her mother) tottering on her high heels.

First Bailiff to Second Bailiff: “We’ll have to do a breathalyzer on her. She’s smelly of the stuff.”

It’s not good to fail at the first stage. But lots of people want to be excused at the next stage – as reported by fromthesquare:

I was literally the last one called into the jury box – thus, the last person to answer any of the judge’s and lawyers’ questions – and I had heard all of the answers that the other forty-nine people had given. What struck me – what shocked me, actually – was the way that so many of my fellow prospective jurors exaggerated, obfuscated, and out-and-out lied to the judge to get out of being selected. There were quite a few legitimate reasons for people to be dismissed – this was for a criminal assault case that looked like it would come down to the word of the suspect against the two officers who arrested him, so it made sense for police officers, trial attorneys, relatives of convicted criminals and assault victims to be excused. What got to me was the large number of people who claimed that because their family’s apartment had been burglarized when they were four years old, or that Grandma’s purse had been snatched when she was seventeen, that they were not capable of being fair and impartial.

Thanks to the organ builder.

Miscellaneous/Dies und das

In lieu of a longer post, some links and comments that have come up this week:

1. A commenter on an earlier entry wondered how to translate Bereinigungsgesetz into English. There’s some discussion there, and also a mention of how to translate Gesetz into English: as part of the name of a statute, I always write Act. This works in BrE and AmE. Some prefer law, and as far as I remember the argument given for using law is that there is a difference in the way Gesetze are made in Germany and Acts in the UK and USA. One aspect that struck me only recently is that it’s quite common in BrE to do what I do, capitalize Act in running text (in this generic sense, one could also use statute). I think it tends to be done by lawyers and it only struck me when a colleague queried it.

2. In Language mystery, Victor Dewsbery posted a blog entry on Terminology for parts of a city just after I wrote about Land. An even more complex topic!

Help! What can I do in my text?

This variety of terms in both languages means first of all that there is no absolute right answer for any terminology question. Perhaps I could suggest a provisional sub-division into primary, secondary and informal parts of the town or city, although some of the terms will overlap, and many distinctions are likely to be relative.

3. Another blog I enjoy reading, False friends, good and bad translation, has a post on Mahnverfahren auf Englisch. It’s a guest post, I think, by Laura Macdonald. She opts for dunning process. This is certainly OK. Process, because it includes court proceedings among other things. But I would have said debt collection procedure, I think. I wonder if dunning is more common in AmE than BrE? I have always felt it was a colloquial term, but maybe I’m wrong. I also feel it is not widely understood by English (British?) readers. Mind you, when I look in the legal dictionaries and find default action, I’m mystified.

LATER NOTE: In the comments, the patron saint of lawyers points out that the EU term is order for payment – as in European Order for Payment Procedure. So maybe that will take over.

Land and (federal) state

This is one of those thorny issues that stop me from writing up a guide to DE>EN legal translation. If you read to the end you will also realize that enough is enough.

Germany is divided into sixteen Länder, sometimes called Bundesländer. I think it is customary in US English to call them states or federal states. I have been heard to say that Germany is a federal state so its constituent parts can’t be, but I am feeling so confused now that I can’t remember if I believe that. In British English I think Land (plural Länder) is often used, sometimes in italics. The capital L marks it as foreign; the plural is a problem. But even here, I suspect that state is becoming the more common term.

The problem doesn’t end there, because these entities have different titles: Freistaat Bayern, Freistaat Sachsen, Freistaat Thüringen, and possibly Stadtstaat for Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin. I don’t really like to write Free State of Bavaria, but it’s often done.

There’s a wonderful illustration of the dreadful longwindedness and complexity of discussions on translation in the Talk section of the Wikipedia article on States of Germany. Do these sections get deleted? I assume not, but here’s a taster:

The article states right in the beginning “Germany is a federal republic made up of 16 states formally known in German as Bundesländer (“Federal States”; singular Bundesland), or more commonly, Länder (singular Land).”
As far as my information goes, that is actually totally incorrect. The term “Bundesländer” is used in common parlance, however legally speaking it does not even exist and is misleading and wrong actually. The sentence should be the other way around. I took a look into the Grundgesetz, Chapter II is titled “Der Bund und die Länder”, in the english version it says “The Federation and the Länder”. Chapter IV Der Bundesrat reads: “Durch den Bundesrat wirken die Länder bei der Gesetzgebung und Verwaltung des Bundes und in Angelegenheiten der Europäischen Union.” translated as “The Länder shall participate through the Bunderat in the legislation …etc.” Nowhere in the Grundgesetz does it ever talk of “Bundesländer”. The state-governments are also just called that, Landesregierung and not Bundeslandregierung. Of course the term Bundesländer is popularly used, however legally speaking it does not even exist and is factually wrong. Germany by its constitution is made up of the german states first, who got together to create a federation, the Bundesrepublik. Therefore anything that has to do with “Bund-” is only at the federal level, by its nature it cannot be at the state “Land” level. Therefore a word like Bundesland in itself is actually a contradiction.

It goes on.

The article itself refers inter alia to federated states. It prefers Länder (as I have to date) but gives as authority for this the use in the ‘official’ translation of the Basic Law (I tend to find none of the translations of the Basic Law totally satisfactory and have my doubts about ‘official’ translations) and in UK parliamentary proceedings, in this case qoting one debate in 1991.

Now, the EU English Style Guide recommends:

Land, Länder Translate as ‘federal state(s)’, adding ‘German’ if necessary for clarity, or leave the terms in German.

But here’s the list of suggestions that threw me, in the recommendations of the Auswärtiges Amt:

(Land) Baden-Württemberg
(Free State of) Bavaria
(Land) Berlin
(Land) Brandenburg
(Free Hanseatic City of) Bremen
(Free and Hanseatic City of) Hamburg
(Land) Hesse
(Land) Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
(Land) Lower Saxony
(Land) North Rhine-Westphalia
(Land) Rhineland-Palatinate
(Land) Saarland
(Free State of) Saxony
(Land) Saxony-Anhalt
(Land) Schleswig-Holstein
(Free State of) Thuringia

This means that not only do they distinguish between Freistaat, Land etc., but they require an of after state and not after Land.

I discussed this with ITI colleagues and the agreement was that we say:
state of Saarland
Land of Saarland
putting of in both. But German institutions which follow the Auswärtiges Amt recommendations are going to distinguish grammatically.

I don’t like it, but it’s a little difficult to research since the term Land is not an English one. Wherever it’s used in English, non-native speakers are likely to be involved to a greater degree than with native English terms. But why, if you are writing English, would you write ‘city of …’ and ‘state of …’ but not ‘Land of …’?

Happy New Year/Alles Gute für 2013

Just before starting work again, here is what it looks like here in Fürth now:

I can’t help feeling that containers for Advent lights are being repurposed here.

This is what I saw on Saturday:

(Note the German indentation on the cushion in the shop window)

These are the Sternsinger – rather too many Three Kings. They did have real incense with them. I would have given them a donation after photographing them, but they were hastening off somewhere. According to Toytown Germany (link with picture), the “C + M + B” they chalk on the door means not “Caspar, Melchior und Balthasar”, but “Christus Mansionam Benedicat”. More in English in Wikipedia. I have never encountered the Three Kings Cake in Germany.

Meanwhile, a beaver has returned. It has been working on one tree only and I will have to see if it manages to fell it:

And finally, a photo showing what it looks like when rebuilding is about to take place and shops move out: