Fürther ist Feuer und Flamme für den Kilt

I have to admit I have sometimes thought Franconians were like Scots because they are equally dour. (I’m allowed to say this for reasons of ancestry).

It feels a bit odd, though, to read of a gentleman from Fürth who is fixated on a kilt. And not a sensible kilt with tool pockets but a thing out of tartan. Martha (his surname) seems to equate the English with the Bavarians and regard them as enemies.

Martha ist überzeugt, „dass wir Franken die Schotten Bayerns sind“. Schotten und Engländer würden sich hassen, Bayern und Franken sich auch nicht unbedingt liebhaben, argumentiert er.

He bought his kilt from Andreas Hertl, another Fürth scotophile.

It’s not surprising, then, that there’s at least one Franconian tartan.

August 1997. Designed by (or for?) the Highland Circle – a group of Malt Whisky drinkers in Franconia, Germany. Sample in Scottish Tartans Authority’s Johnston Collection and Lochcarron swatch. Scottish Tartans Society notes say designed by members of the Highland Circle and produced by Hugh MacPherson of Edinburgh. Blue & green lightened to show sett.

There are even Catalan tartans.

The Ballad of Legal Aid

On 6 January there was actually a lawyers’ strike protesting against cuts in criminal legal aid.

For some reason I had missed this wonderful song by a practising barrister: The Ballad of Legal Aid. Watch and listen!

But the topic is a popular one in music, as shown by this clip promoting legal aid in Bangla Desh (the Bengali term is ‘legal aid’, and ‘hotline number’ can also be heard).

Thanks to Trevor

Transblawg hits the big time

Fame at last! One hour translations have devoted at least an hour to describing Transblawg. Here’s a screenshot – spot the deliberate errors:

Werner has become a political commentator now and I fear he would not be impressed to be described as Transblawg’s author.

It’s unusual for me to get this kind of accolade, since I never get an award as Best Translation Blog or the like (possibly because I don’t advertise the chance of voting for me on the site advertising the competition).

Thanks to Kevin Lossner of Translation Tribulations for this. Sadly his blog didn’t make the list.

Why are litigation letters often so dreadful?

Why are litigation letters often so dreadful?

I picked this old article up from a tweet by Jack of Kent (David Allen Green), the author.

It’s reminiscent of the kind of tone I sometimes hit when translating similar correspondence by German lawyers.

The authors of this dreadful correspondence will invariably profess themselves “surprised” or “astonished” (or even “surprised and astonished”). They are “bewildered” and “confused” and sometimes “shocked”. If any of these assertions were literally true then the dispute resolution departments of many law firms must be in a constant state of noisy hyper-ventilation. It would be close to a national medical emergency.

The comments are good too. Anonymous writes:


I am dismayed and surprised to read this post. The allegations are bewildering when they are not misconceived and illiberal.

I await your response within fourteen days.

I wonder if Rupert Haigh’s Oxford Handbook of Legal Correspondence advises this kind of thing.

What it’s like living in England: bank support chat line

Online chat at bank – problems with PIN since at least November 2013
– names changed. This is really what it’s like living here:

An advisor will be with you shortly.
While waiting to be connected, don’t forget you might still be able to find the answer to your question and many more by using our ‘Help 24×7’.
During this chat you will not be asked for any details from your Card-Reader.
Please note if any personal information is given, it will only be used with regards to this specific enquiry and will not be used for any other purpose.
You are currently number 1 in the queue.
You are now connected with an adviser.

Jane: Hi, you’re chatting with Jane. How may I help you?
MM: How can I phone you please? I have been trying for weeks to get a pin unlocked, long story, and today yet again I was given advice which didn’t work (unlock pin only at the XBank, not at Tesco – Tesco machines don’t always work). Yet again, Pin is locked!
MM: Before Christmas they promised me a new pin in the post, but it never came.
MM: It turned out they had two different addresses, in Germany and UK, for me (but both should work)
Jane: Hi M
MM: Went to XBank this week and they cleared up the address problem and said PIN OK
MM: Hi Jane!
Jane: A couple of moments please while I read the above
Jane: Are you still getting the message pin locked when inserting the card in the reader?
MM: Yes, exactly, just now. After ‘unlocking’ it at XBank machine outside XBank in Upminster this afternoon
Jane: Okay as you are still experiencing issues I can order a new card on the account
MM: This will take weeks again, won’t it? I’ll have to wait for the new PIN etc.
Jane: Your replacement debit card will be with you in 5-7 working days.
MM: It took weeks when I first got it because no one told me I need an e-card-reader.
Jane: I am very sorry you have experienced this issue
I will do as much as I can rectify this today
MM: That sounds like the best way to go. Can I arrange a payment online, or shall I just wait?
MM: While I’m moaning, sorry about this, not your fault, I must add
MM: that in December I went to the branch and they told me the e-card-reader needs the online pin, not the card pin. This was wrong!
Jane: In the meantime you can call us so we can arrange payments out from the account for you M
MM: And today I phoned XBank, can’t find the phone number any longer, and they told me my mistake had been to unlock the pin at Tesco.
MM: I just want to make one payment, it isn
MM: isn’t urgent, but it would calm me down and I could forget about XBank for a week
Jane: So I can have the issue resolved asap
Jane: Can you please confirm your full name?
MM: MM, attorney for GRM
Jane: Would you like me to leave the current card on the account active?
MM: It’s not necessary if I can just make that one payment by phone, perhaps, or via you
MM: It isn’t my bank, just PoA for my aged brother, don’t use card much (obviously, the PIN doesn’t work!)
Jane: Okay of course you will be able to make the payment over the phone and I have left the card active so you can still use to make purchases etc
MM: Thanks, Jane – can you tell me the phone number please
Jane: Of course
Please find the contact details for our Personal Telephone Banking team below:

Open 24 Hours a day. Calls may be recorded.
Jane: The card has been ordered to the address above
MM: Thanks very much
Jane: A pleasure to help
Jane: Are you happy that I have fully and correctly answered all of your questions today?
MM: Yes, absolutely.
Jane: Great
Jane: Thanks for chatting with me and have a fantastic day.
Please click here to end our chat and let me know your thoughts on the service you have received.
Jane: I would be grateful if you could take a moment of your time to complete the attached survey in connection with the service I have provided today.
MM: OK, I suppose it will appear

Buried in their own garden

I have a feeling this wouldn’t work in Germany, although you can apparently bury your cat in the garden there, if the garden belongs to you.

The Natural Death Centre, a charity for natural burials, provides useful advice on the practicalities of grave digging on its website: “If you are digging a grave yourself, you need to be careful and have help. If you are fit and enthusiastic, it should take about three hours work to dig a four foot deep grave.

“Try and shore up the first two feet of the grave so that it is supported when the mourners stand around it, and work steadily so that you don’t strain yourself. You might want to take a bucket to stand on so that you can get out of the grave at the end of a tiring day!”

The form of certified translations

Richard Schneider has posted a guide on how to prepare certified translations in Germany: Von Schuppen und Ösen. It’s in German but with illustrations.

Here’s a summary of the main headings

1. The stamp and signature should be blue rather than black. (I definitely use blue stamp ink, but agree it would make sense to do the signature in blue biro too. Then people can see immediately whether the translation is an original or a photocopy).

2. A round stamp is not prescribed, but looks more official: official stamps are usually round, and rectangular stamps are easier to copy.
(In Bavaria, the round stamp is in fact prescribed. It can get quite expensive when you think how long the translator’s title is).

3. Always attach a copy of the original text. (I usually do that, though it’s not always feasible. The courts don’t want it for internal use. But it covers you if you translate from a copy rather than the original, because the recipient can compare the copy with the original and see if you translated the right document. And if you do a translation of excerpts, you can use a highlighter to mark on the copy which bits you did or omitted).

4. Fold the pages over so the corners are staggered (see photo) – each then gets some blue ink on it from your stamp.

5. Add a stamp on the fold inside.

6. Bind the pages together so they can’t be separated. Use an Öszange (see picture). This is apparently an eyeletter punch. Alternatively, you can use a paper seal (Siegelstern; see pictures). (I sometimes use gummy paper, which I cut otu in a rectangle, and put the stamp on top of it. And sometimes I sew, with needle and thread).

(Richard Schneider seems thrilled with his punch. So was I when I first got one. The problem came when I sent off a set of punched translations and they passed through a machine at Deutsche Post, which ripped the translations to pieces, and I had to do the whole lot again. I have never used the device since.)

Millionaires shortbread/Englisches Flair

Apparently millionaires’ shortbread was invented in Australia in the 1970s, but it has become very popular in the UK recently. It is a confection made for the hoi polloi (like me), but it seems that England-Fans in Fürth are selling it as ‘the British biscuit for the more aristocratic Londoners’:

Dafür empfehlen die England-Fans besonders diverse Varianten des Millionaire’s Shortbread. Ob mit Schokolade, mit Karamell- oder leichter Whiskey-Note – das britische Teegebäck für die nobleren Londoner bietet ein besonderes Geschmackserlebnis – und ist nach dem Weihnachtsfest mit seinen Stollen und Plätzchen eine echte Alternative.

Books I have not read/Ungelesene Bücher

In a variation of the popular bloggers’ posts ‘Books I read in 2013’, ‘Books I read in December’ and so on, here are some books I haven’t read.

First of all, I was in Hammicks law bookshop yesterday because it was still open till 7 pm when I happened to pass it.

I didn’t buy Catherine Barnard’s tome on EU Employment Law although it looked like a good read, with quite some reference to individual countries. I had to admit I would not find time to read it. Had I wanted to, I could have got it cheaper second-hand or on Kindle (though I feel books you want to leaf through don’t work well on Kindle). EU law sometimes gets me down because I don’t know enough about it, and whether working through this book would help I don’t know – though I suspect it would

Nor did I buy Guide to Latin in International Law by Fellmeth and Horwitz. You can look inside at amazon. The Latin used in English law and the Latin used in German law are different, US law also uses different Latin and international law (with which I rarely have to do) probably uses a different one again. Not only that, but the pronunciation varies from country to country. There is some information on this in this book, but probably the two versions given, which are ‘American’ and ‘restored classical’ I think, are not enough to help those of us dealing with UK and German pronunciations. This book is not cheap. I liked the detailed explanations and layout. But again, I felt my life would be full enough without finding time to read it.

Similarly, I did not buy Rupert Haigh’s Oxford Handbook of Legal Correspondence. It’s for non-native speakers of English and it looks very good. I still don’t know how people really learn languages or learn legal English, but if they can learn something from a book, this may be a book for them – as are Rupert’s other books (see his website).

This list seems rather short, as there are very many other books I haven’t read, and it is very much biased to OUP. So here’s more: I saw a newer edition of the Barron’s Law Dictionary by Peter Gifis, which I have always liked, but I suspect the edition I have will suffice. But mine is nearly twenty years old, so maybe I should reconsider. You can get this as a paperback or for Kindle.

I also haven’t read The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law. I haven’t even had it in my hands, though. But I have mentioned it in an earlier post.

This will have to do for now, although I think I could write many more posts on this subject.