Europa Centre for Languages

I was surprised to read about

The UK’s only indoor mock European town, complete with market square, café, shops and classroom. Managed by the Languages Adviser for Havering and with a team of highly experience tutors, native speakers and assistants, the Europa Centre offers the public and schools opportunities to develop prior learning or to begin language learning from scratch.

Pictures here. I doubt I could get in to see it, despite my prior learning.

Near Upminster Bridge station, no less.

The Romford Recorder visited the Centre in 2011. Quoting Dan Alliot, the head of the Europa Centre and Havering Languages Advisor:

“When they come inside it is like another world and a lot of them actually go away thinking that they have been to France for the day.”

When I go to Whitechapel I also feel like I’ve been abroad for the day.

If you don’t want a day trip to France and instead fancy a visit to Germany, or Spain, simple flip boards mean that the French town of Haricotville can easily become Rubendorf for Germany or villa Guisante if in Spain.

An Act or a law?

Perennial query (from a mailing list): Why is it OK to translate Bundeswahlgesetz as Federal Electoral Law while Umweltinformationsgesetz is Environmental Information Act?

(Actually, you can get the Federal Elections Act online now at

The superficial answer is that some people insist on translating Gesetz in the name of an Act as law.

Act is the better term in both British and US contexts. Like some British lawyers, I capitalize Act in this sense, even outside titles, but this isn’t universal.

One argument given is that the procedure for passing a common-law Act is different from that for passing a German Gesetz. I don’t think the argument holds water.

A possible reason is that foreign lawyers are more familiar with the word law. That applies in other jurisdictions too, not just German. The word Act possibly frightens them off. Loi in French sounds like law and I gather Scandinavian languages have the same situation (lag/lov).

But law is just not the normal term in English.

I would use laws as a superordinate term for primary legislation (Acts/statutes) and secondary/delegated legislation (statutory orders). But legislation might work instead.

Cat ownership cases

Wikipedia refers to splitting the baby as a legal term:

The expressions “splitting the baby” or “cutting the baby in half” are sometimes used in the legal profession for a form of simple compromise: solutions which “split the difference” in terms of damage awards or other remedies (e.g. a judge dividing fault between the two parties in a comparative negligence case).

But I suppose the judgment of Solomon would not work with cats.

A German judge, in Central Franconia of course, perhaps not a cat owner, tried two techniques to discover who owned a cat. First she took all the parties onto a car park roof and had the cat released to see who it would run to. The cat ran under a car, where it remained for a while. Secondly, she had both parties hold the cat to see who the cat preferred. The cat liked them both.

Auf Anordnung des Amtsgerichts musste die Frau die Katze nun zur Verhandlung mitbringen. Auf dem Parkdeck des Gerichts sollte sie das Tier dann frei laufen lassen. Die Richterin wollte damit feststellen, ob sich das Tier bei einem der Beteiligten zutraulich zeigt. Das ging jedoch schief, denn die Katze flüchtete sofort unter ein Auto und blieb dort auch erstmal. Erst nach längerer Zeit konnte sie hervorgelockt werden.

Eventually the original owner was able to prove ownership of Lumpele (‘Little Rascal’) with photos.

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had his phone number put on Freya’s collar. See
I rescued George Osborne’s cat and put homelessness on the map. Freya was microchipped anyway, but this didn’t prevent her being looked after as a stray for three years some time earlier.

They gave up hope long before moving into Downing Street last year, assuming the cat had got lost – or worse, been run over.

So they transferred their affections to the family budgie, Gibson, named after RAF Dambusters hero Guy Gibson, and two goldfish.

It appears, however, that Freya is a better mouser than the original official mouser, Larry. David Cameron was obliged to dismiss him (he was more tolerant with Andy Coulson).

But microchipping doesn’t always prevent court cases.

Headline of the day


This is a sculpture of 32 tonnes of Verona marble, showing a giant vulva, the work of the Peruvian sculptor Fernando de la Jara, who has lived in Germany since 1967. It stands in front of a German college and apparently drew in a US exchange student, who had to be rescued by the fire brigade.

US exchange student ‘delivered’ from giant marble vulva by German firefighters

Austausch-Student bleibt in Stein-Vagina stecken

Copyright and cupcakes

It seems that Lola’s Cupcakes have stolen Ms Marmite Lover’s (Kerstin Rodgers) recipe for marmite cupcakes – that is, they’ve taken bits of text (you can’t copyright the ingredients) and messed up the instructions.

The comments are sometimes rather silly or downright rude. But I don’t understand why she doesn’t go to a lawyer but is waiting for Lola’s to do the right thing. I think she needs some damages and not just a donation to charity.

MsMarmiteLover writes:

You cannot copyright, for instance, a classic recipe such as a Victoria sponge or a recipe for hummus.

Perhaps that’s unfortunate when one reads that Konditor and Cook recommend adding extra egg yolk and crème fraiche to a ‘Victoria sponge’ – that doesn’t sound very German to me. From The Spectator:

Konditor and Cook (Ebury, £20, Spectator Bookshop, £18) is the book of an Anglo-German cake shop, which, given the excellence of German cakes, is oddly rare on the scene here. Gerhard Jenne is notable for his quirky decorations and humorous take on fondant fancies and you get a fair share of jolly stuff here, but there are also things like plum streusel in the German fashion. It’s all delicious, but I should warn you that some of the cake bases are quite dense, the cooking times aren’t always geared to domestic ovens and there’s a variation on a Victoria sponge (extra egg yolk, added crème fraiche) which comes squarely into the category of gilded lilies.

Meanwhile, Time Out recommends London’s best German bakeries, Victoria sponge hin oder her.

Thanks to Trevor as usual.

Book on legal lexicography announced

This book doesn’t come out till November 2014 and already it has favourable reviews!

Legal lexicography or jurilexicography is the most neglected aspect of the discipline of jurilinguistics, despite its great relevance for translators, academics and comparative lawyers. This volume seeks to bridge this gap in legal literature by bringing together contributions from ten jurisdictions from leading experts in the field. The work addresses aspects of legal lexicography, both monolingual and bilingual, in its various manifestations in both civilian and common law systems. It thus compares epistemic approaches in a subject that is inextricably bound up with specific legal systems and specific languages. Topics covered include the history of French legal lexicography, ordinary language as defined by the courts, the use of law dictionaries by the judiciary, legal lexicography and translation, and a proposed multilingual dictionary for the EU citizen. While the majority of contributions are in English, the volume includes three written in French.
The collection will be a valuable resource for both scholars and practitioners engaging with language in the mechanism of the law.

Legal Lexicography. A Comparative Perspective. ed. by Máirtin Mac Aodha, Council of the European Union.

Contents: Foreword, Lionel Smith; Introduction; A view of French legal lexicography – tradition and change from a doctrinal genre to the modern era, Pierre-Nicolas Barenot; The Early Modern English law lexicon, Ian Lancashire and Janet Damianopoulos; Legal lexicography: a view from the front lines, Bryan A. Garner; The challenges of compiling a legal dictionary, Daniel Greenberg; Bilingual legal dictionaries: comparison without precision?, Coen J.P. van Laer; Pour des dictionnaires juridiques multilingues du citoyen de l’Union européenne, Pierre Lerat; Principes terminologiques pour la constitution d’une base de données pour la traduction juridique, Thierry Grass; Translation and the law dictionary, Marta Chroma; Multinational legal terminology in a paper dictionary?, Peter Sandrini; Database of legal terms for communicative and knowledge information tools, Sandro Nielsen; Defining ordinary words for mundane objects: legal lexicography, ordinary language and the word vehicle, Christopher Hutton; Establishing meaning in a bilingual and bijural context: dictionary use at the Supreme Court of Canada, Mathieu Devinat; La phraséologie chez des jurilexicographes: les exemples linguistiques dans la deuxième édition du Dictionnaire de droit privé et lexiques bilingues, Patrick Forget; Inconsistencies in the sources and use of Irish legal terminology, Malachy O’Rourke; The struggle for civic space between a minority legal language and a dominant legal language: the case of Māori and English, Māmari Stephens and Mary Boyce; Index.

This could be interesting, although it is a bit of a mixed bag. The editor at least is working on how to improve the law dictionary from the translator’s point of view. I recognize Sandro Nielsen’s name because he plays a big role in a Wikipedia entry on Legal Translation.

Via Juritraducteur

Hello World


This blog has just been moved from Serendipity to WordPress. It was hard work, not done by me but by the organ grinder at kalebeul.

There is a script to move from s9y to wp online. This stopped after moving all the posts but comments stopped at 2007, and categories and comments weren’t linked. If I understand it right, Trevor succeeded in moving the rest by clearing out a lot of stuff from the databases, emptying things like spam comments from tables to reduce the amount to be migrated. Even the images came over, which I wasn’t expecting, but this was probably down to coding work on his part.

I’m hoping that if I get a wave of spam comments which the blog fights off, it won’t shut down the server again like it has done twice in the past. The system looks easier to use. It looks as if I don’t have to do so much by hand on an upgrade. Serendipity was in bad English (domainfactory offers an instant wp install, into bad German). I should probably write down all the steps for customizing the blog, since my brain doesn’t seem to retain them.