A self-defeating sign:


An ungrammatical sign:


Inside Sainsbury’s in Hornchurch, on a garden bench beyond the tills: In loving memory of Les and Flo Ware. They shopped till they dropped. – Not sure whether to believe this. I can’t trace these people’s dates of death.


Sorry. Cannot hear through glass. Please come round.

Book of the month: Slugs of Britain and Ireland

Slugs of Britain and Ireland. Identification, understanding and control. By Ben Rowson, James Turner, Roy Anderson and Bill Symondson. FSC Publications First edition 2014, ISBN 978 1 908819 13 0


On the basis of ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ I decided to find out more about slugs. Fortunately, this book has just been published (superseding the 1983 edition).

Possibly a juvenile Large Black Slug

Possibly a juvenile Large Black Slug

If you’re interested in slugs of Britain and Ireland, this is the book for you. You know who you are.

Some information that was new to me: slugs have been considered to cure consumption and sore throats if you swallow them.
Slugs have a bad press.
They evolved from snails and although they have uncoiled, they still have a ‘right-handed’ asymmetrical body like their snail ancestors.
Life as a slug. Slugs are hermaphrodites, which makes mating complex. It can last from under a minute to many hours. They can probably all self-fertilize, but the worst pests are usually outcrossers.
Slugs must have arrived in Britain or Ireland without human help at least 5,000 years ago to be native. (I’m not sure how they came). We share some slugs with Iberia and the Pyrenees.
More money is spent on dormouse and newt surveys every years than has ever been spent on slug recording.

There is a lot of information on identifying slugs, with pictures. There is also advice on how to get rid of slugs, and slugs are given flags according to how much of a pest they are. There are appendixes with lists of Latin and English names (Spanish Stealth slug, Budapest Slug, Dead Man’s Fingers, Rusty False-Keeled Slug, Vulgar Slug and so on). Also details on how (and why) to dissect a slug.

Perhaps by its nature, the book is rather dry in parts, but there are headings like ‘Why be a slug?’

Curiously, it appears that a long-awaited guide has also appeared in Germany at virtually the same time. Die Landschnecken Deutschlands covers both snails and slugs, of which there are 242 species in Germany. Members of the Schnecken-Forum were excited about this. I haven’t seen the book itself, but no doubt it would make me envious of the wealth of slugs and snails on the Continent.

Silk – Roben aus Seide

I haven’t yet managed to watch a whole episode of the British series Silk, but I would be interested to see the German version. You can buy episodes in the German iTunes store, but that doesn’t work for me. Der Tagesspiegel writes:

Die ehrgeizige Strafverteidigerin möchte unbedingt die Auszeichnung des QC erlangen, des begehrten „Queen’s Counsel“, der zum Tragen einer Robe aus Seide berechtigt sowie dem Träger das Recht einräumt, sich seine Fälle selbst aussuchen und an den höchsten Gerichten vertreten zu können.

Privilegien, begehrt unter britischen Anwälten. „Taking silk“ heißt es dort unter rivalisierenden Anwärtern auf die Kronanwaltschaft, und solche Rivalen befinden sich auch in Shoe Lane.

The barristers’ chambers at Shoe Lane are referred to as a Sozietät and a Kanzlei.

I am told that the details of barristers’ function are a bit mystifying in German. One could have introduced the terms Solicitor and Barrister in German, but instead it looks as if they are Rechtsberater and Prozessanwälte. taz:

Die Serie hat diverse durchlaufende Themen, namentlich die Schwächen des englisch-walisischen Rechtssystems, das aus langer, wenngleich mittlerweile aufgeweichter Tradition zwischen „Solicitors“ und „Barristers“, Rechtsberatern und Prozessanwälten, unterscheidet und so Abhängigkeiten und Machtgefüge schafft. All das wirkt sich auf die Abläufe in der Sozietät aus, wo Billy Lamb schon mal zu unsauberen Methoden greift, aber nicht als einziger intrigiert und manipuliert.

The role of the clerk (der Bürovorsteher) is also mysterious to Germans.

Students’ errors (ancient): British and US background studies

Students’ replies in a short oral test on British and US background studies in the 1980s and 1990s. I only tested the UK part. The students were at a Berufsfachschule, a kind of secretarial college, and the test was to show how they expressed themselves in English as well as whether they knew their stuff. I think that over the years, as the teaching got better, the answers got better too:

highest mountain in UK Lord Snowdon
There is a lot of Arabic farming in Kent (= arable farming)
Oxford and Cambridge were found in the Middle Ages.
Dartmoor Tunnei
Citrus fruits in the Scilly Isles
The states under the Ohio River
The Fairy Isles
In Birmingham the main industry is roofing.
In Birmingham the main industry is distilling and biscuit making.
Lake Loman, Loch Almond
What flows through the Great Glen? – The Glen River.
Glen Penn (= the Great Glen)
Gas was founded in East Anglia.
The new universities were found in the 1960s.
The Grumpians (= the Grampians)
The Crumbians (= the Cambrians)
Give an example of what you mean by heavy engineering. – Textiles.
Chicago – they make cans, meat.
The streamsters’ union.
The truckster union
The tramsters’ union (= teamsters)
Old pensioners live there (Florida).
Why is the climate good there? -1 think so.
The Forth Railroad Bridge.
The Caledonian Valley.
The Manchester ferry.
Liverpool is rainy because of the monsoon.
On St Patrick’s Day you wear a clover.
The Norfolk Broads – where most Englishmen go on vacation.
There are pea pots in the Norfolk Broads.
They put rubbish there and got more land.
There are almost no rivers in Britain.
Tweed is a special kind of leather.
Hills in the UK – in the south we have the Pennines.
The maturity vote in Britain (= majority system)
The four saints founded the Union Jack.
What were they digging for in Dover when the Channel tunnel was begun in the 19th c? Steel./ – To find water.
Klondiking in Ullapool – (= cf. the Gold Rush) – people rushing for herrings.
Only 5% of the fishes were eaten in the UK.
The Dust Bowl is a strong wind in Oklahoma.
The St. Lawrence Canal.
I’m thinking of one of the natural wonders of the world (i.e. the Grand Canyon) – Salt? ’One of the great wonders of the world is what I’m thinking of.’- ’I see!’
The North-South division – it has something to do with black and white – The milk and dairy belt?
The capital of Indiana? – India.
The Chilly Isles
What is Hadrian’s Wall? – Oh God, I’m lucky to know the name.
The Flens (= the Fens)
What kind of cat has 9 tails? -1 can’t imagine.
What is a Manx cat? – The symbol of the island. – What kind of a cat is it? – It’s a living animal, it’s a cat with 9 tails.
Cats have 9 tails on the Isle of Man.
Skin Tain; Skin Pain (Sinn Fein) – the extremist Unionist party.
The patron saint of Wales? – The Early of Snowdon.
Indians live on a reservoir.
Dead Valley (= Death Valley)
Constitutional conventions – the Prime Minister is there but he hasn’t to be there.
Colloquial school (= comprehensive school).
What is a big mountain that caused trouble lately? (i.e. Mount St. Helen’s) – Mount Vernon? Mount Rushmore?
They wanted to build a channel through the US (= Union Pacific Railway).
What is a JP? – It sounds familiar, but I’m not quite sure what it is.
A JP doesn’t need a loyal (= legal) training.
A JP can deal with dismeanors (= misdemeanors)
Scottish Gaelic is spoken by about 300 peoples.
The Shilly Isles.
What are you doing next year? (Question after a good test) – I’m working in a bureau as a foreign secretary.
The crofters mainly process peat.
The crofters rent their soil.
The Sellafield re-plant (= reprocessing plant).
If the Queen dies, a new Queen will be elected.
There is never a moment without a monarch.
When the Queen dies, her ancestor becomes a Queen or King. – Which ancestor? – Her son.
What other things are said about the Queen? – They say she always takes water for her tea (i.e. on trips abroad)
What does she wear at the opening of Parliament? – How should I know – I’ve never seen her.
The Queen can abolish the Prime Minister.
What is the meaning of the expression ’The Queen never dies’? -1 didn’t think you were going to ask that. It means she’s always alive in the memory of the people.
When she dies, her son will immediately become Queen.
’The Queen never dies’? – She will be remembered. She is registered everywhere.
’The Queen does no wrong’ means she’s always right in the eyes of the people.
She’s always right – she gets her powers from God.
The Queen can do no wrong – It’s a law, she’s always right
The Queen can’t have a trial except for things which are very severe.
The Queen can’t be persecuted – prosecuted or put in prison.
’The Queen is the fountain of justice’ – She can say, ’No, you must not die’.
The Queen always lets someone of her family become Queen after her.
The Governor of General is the title of the Queen.
The Governor General of Australia vertrets the Queen.
The House of Lords
Who is in charge at the House of Lords? -I don’t know his name. – What does he sit on? – A red sofa, oh dear, I can’t remember what it’s called. -I see. The nameless man on the nameless sofa.
The woolsack is stuffed with cotton from all Commonwealth Countries.
He becomes a peer by hereditary and after his death passes his title on.
Life peers give their seat to their relatives.
The Lord peers.
Harry detory peers
The Lords have their titles because of heir.
Does Screaming Lord Sutch always lose his deposit? – No, he can’t, because he’s a peer, and peers aren’t elected.
In English schools, pupils who misbehave are sometimes canned.
The SDP was founded by three ancient (= former) Labour MPs.
A sandwich course is a course which pupils attend with a sandwich because the course lasts the whole day.
Quakers are very ordinary.
Jersey must be in East Anglia. I found it in my notes but I didn’t know where it belonged.
The Norfolk Broads are handmade lakes (= manmade).
The Irish potato famine: a lot of them starved and the rest of them emigrated.
The highest mountain in the UK? – Big Ben.
How are Manchester and Liverpool joined? – By a bridge.
They have a lot of peat near Stoke-on-Trent – reason for growth of pottery industry.
What author do you think of in connection with the Mississippi? – It’s the father of waters – it’s the biggest river in the USA.
Where would you find tobacco? -I think in the grazing and irrigation area.
Why would you go to Dover? – To see the white cliffs.
GB – the holy island (= whole island).
The Pennines – the backgrate of England (= backbone)
What’s the difference between dairy and beef? – Dairy is cows and beef is oxes. Stratford-on-Trend
The elf-plus (= eleven-plus)
How can you tell if someone comes from the north or the south of the USA? -I can notice it because of their accent. This is a very strange accent.
Where do the children of the rich go to school in the UK? – They go to university.
Most people live in the south of Scotland because the Highlands are not easily to be civilized.
What is Philadelphia famous for? – I don’t know – Philadelphia Cheese?
The oral application of the language is no problem.
Then there is, of course, the well-known Labour politician Mr Food.
The English people exchange friendliness verbally.
Since the use of condoms is an effective method to protect oneself from contraction…
Prince Charles, the Apparent Heir, must at any rate remain the sophisticated dignified person he was brought up to be.
A cash dispenser is a machine which is installed on a bank building.
What is the Square Mile? – East end: dogs; where the poor people live. BFS 2 Sj.
Harrods is situated in Knight’s Brides. BFS 2 Sj.
If you look at the House of Commons, what is different in appearance from the Bundestag? – They have false hair.
Where is there a parliament on this map? – Westminster. – What is the name of the country whose parliament that is? – England. – Well, where is the parliament of Scotland, then? – Dublin.
Battle of the Boyne was the defeat of the Catholic James II by the Protestant William the Orangeman and Mary Stuart.
The squalor in the slums – results of drug abuse, violence, infant pregnancy and other things…
The Isle of Wright
Hong Kong has 60,000 inhabitants
They can own their proprieties in Hong Kong.
A shipping way for the ship or ships (the St. Lawrence Seaway)
The Street (= Straits) of Dover
A law is guilty (= gültig, i.e. valid) orkads (= orchards)
Jersey and Gransey
Public schools are more noble than comprehensives
TVA – the Tennessee Water Association
Where is NASA? – On the Bahamas
Don Quayle
The so-called O levels
Tuscon (= Tucson)
The Normans had red hair (= Vikings)
MPs are appointed by the Prime Minister The Scots were chased from the Romans New York is in Maryland
I could imagine everyone wants to own the Rio Grande, because there are some mineral sources there.
The New York Moors (= the North York Moors)
Which Chinese were not permitted to come? – The Japanese?
What hills are south of London? – The Broads?
The Brofolk Nords (= Norfolk Broads)
The Romans built a Hadrian Wall.
The political name – the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland It’s a constit, constit…monarchy but not an absolute monarchy Who is the present monarch? – Elizabeth I.
What do you know about the Colorado River? – It forms the Rio Grande.
You have the Grampians twice. – Yes, there and there. One’s with a ‘u’ and one’s with an ’a’. (= the Grampians and the Cumbrians)
Why do so many people live in the south of England? – Because of the agriculture there? Sin Fein
What exams do you have to pass to get into a comprehensive? – The 11 +
Grazing is that what cattle does.
The Channel Isles are tax-free (should be: they have no VAT).
Hadrian, which was a Roman – uh – head.
The parliamentary season.
(Becky) What’s the name of this state? -I don’t know. – (Becky) Good.
What kind of vegetables do they grow? – Crops.
OASD-one (= OASDI)
What was the legal status of the immigrants to Britain? – They were welcome.
(Hong Kong) In 1997 they go back to Asia.
In Northern Ireland there are the Catholics and the Conservatives; Catholics are discriminated against.

German men’s first names

Andrew Hammel is concerned about the Christian names of the German football team (Remigius-Ekkehard Scores!, ending with an interrobang).

Yesterday the German men’s national soccer team won the World Cup. But what sort of names did these “‘Germans'” have? Per and Philipp are just barely acceptable, but Toni? Kevin? Mario? Sami? Manuel?


Did we lose a war, people?!

But in the interim period, forgetting the Remigiuses and Siegfrieds (I know a couple of Ekkehards, somewhat younger than me), there are quite a few weird German male names. I once spent half an hour with a friend, going through all the ones we could think of.

With apologies in advance to those affected, what about:

Uwe, Udo, Lars, Bodo, Axel, Tillmann, Rüdiger, Wolfgang, Wolf, Heribert, Egon, Golo, Friedhelm, Hans-Werner, Horst, Günter, Jörg, Eberhard.

When Friedwald was first introduced, I thought it might make a German first name.

Of course some curious English names too. Wayne is odd, but his elder son Kai a normal German name.

So the first fruit has fallen from Wayne Rooney’s loins. Coleen Rooney gave birth to an 8lb boy yesterday, which the couple have named Kai.

The name appears to have various origins across different cultures. asserts that it is Hawaiian in origin and means ocean, although it adds that Kai could also come from “the Welsh form of Caius”, which apparently means “the keeper of the keys”. Meanwhile, a company presumably not linked to, insists Kai is of Scandinavian origin, meaning “rejoice”.

A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)

I have actually read all the novels of this series to date. I must be mad! but you knew that anyway. However, it has the advantage that when other TV presenters say to Jon Snow ‘You know nothing’, I get it.

After finishing the first volume, I intended to watch the Game of Thrones DVDs only and stop reading, since the plot seemed better than the writing, but somehow I went on reading and have only seen two or three episodes of the TV version.

The reasoning behind starting these books was: masses of people read fantasy literature and science fiction, and I don’t fancy it at all, but have I given it a fair trial? Lord of the Rings (read in early sixties at school) was annoying, Harry Potter (read from late nineties because students expected it) quite good. I suppose most of the problem with these books is the way some readers totally identify with the characters and the world created. There is an instinctive desire to disagree with them. Thus it was when I was at dinner table where someone ran down Harry Potter but had not read it that I realized I’d have to try it, so I authorized myself to opine.

There were things I didn’t like in general about fantasy literature as I imagine it to be. One thing was the shallow characterization: events and atmosphere more important than character.

I was also misled when I read the review by John Lanchester, because I overlooked the fact that Lanchester actually likes fantasy literature and thus was biased. I would have liked to read a review by a non-fantasy-lit. type, but that was not going to happen.

One advantage Martin has is his use of a medieval model, so we know about knights and battles and the importance of birth. There are some more fantastic elements like the white walkers and the children of the forest, and live dragons and direwolves, but the main framework doesn’t need masses of explanation because the map is roughly Great Britain plus a bit more and the families are like medieval dynasties.

It is also quite helpful that most of his characters have names spelt unexpectedly, because that means you can look them up on the Web and find them (Margaery, Robb, Sansa, Arya, Petyr and so on).

One thing that worries me is the concern of fans that Martin might die before finishing the series. OK, he took six years over the last volume. But he is 65 and overweight!
Game of Thrones author rebuffs health fears with the finger and F-word. Where does this leave me? It’s about time I started doing something sensible.

Here are some notes I took of the style, which is often pseudo-medieval, sometimes pseudo-British and sometimes somewhat American.

much and more
little and less
wroth (sic)
mine own
the babe
pot shops (sic)
poison ivy (in a world based on the UK)
I misremember, I mislike
leal service
for the nonce
that ought not pose much difficulty

turnips (are these rare in the USA? they are constantly being eaten)
whilst (felt to be quintessentially British)
yellow onions (surely a US expression)

Occasionally odd use of shall, but I can’t trace that now.

Are blogs any use to law firms (translators)?

Are blogs any use to law firms? – article by Joe Reevy in the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers at Infolaw. The newsletter is accessible free of charge online nowadays. The general point made is that law firms often put a lot of money into blogging – a post is said to cost GBP 130 – and yet get no comments or feedback. Blogging is referred to as ‘starting an online conversation’. (I must say there is little conversation here either, and I don’t do much to encourage it). It is argued that lawyers should concentrate on one location, one industry or one line of work.

This is presuming the whole purpose of a blog on a law firm’s website is to generate business. Which it probably is.

As for this translation blog, it isn’t meant to generate business. Although I suppose I have got a lot of work through colleagues’ recommendations, so discussing legal translation problems here may prove beneficial. I certainly don’t mention the blog to clients and am somewhat embarrassed if I find out they read it. I have a separate work website, which alas is neglected in that it still records me as being in Germany. I am just getting round to that.

But in recent years a lot of translators’ weblogs have appeared which look much more like advertising efforts. I wonder if they work? Probably just in the same networking way as this blog probably does.

Don’t forget Delia Venables’ Legal Resources in UK and Ireland. My blogroll and links will return, but meanwhile, here is a site to find a lot of information, including UK lawyers’ blogs. Under ‘Information for Lawyers’ you can find, among other things, links to legal journals.

Note in particular Delia’s article in the newsletter on US legal resources (example: use Google Scholar to find case law).

Court sketch artists

In England and Wales, court sketches can’t be done in court but are done by an artist from memory afterwards (see earlier post). Rolf Harris may not have known this.

Isobel Williams shows pictures she did in the Supreme court in her blog Drawing from an uncomfortable position (Supreme Court art: exam nerves and Supreme Court art: piano piano):

‘Am I very politely being told to sit down?’ enquires counsel. ‘I can’t resist the temptation to take you to the Slovenian nationalisation.’
‘Do try,’ murmurs the bench.
But we’re off to Ljubljana.

Meanwhile a sketch done in the Lee Rigby Murder Trial has acquired a new life recently under the heading Court sketch artist sacked after releasing first picture from Rolf Harris trial. I had forgotten Rolf Harris’s catchphrase ‘Can you see what it is yet?’, but others have not.

Partly via UK Supreme Court Blog.

People in East London: Dora Diamant et al.


Dora Diamant (originally Polish, name Dymant) lived with Franz Kafka in the last six months of his life, when he was dying of tuberculosis. It is said of her that he died in her arms and she burnt (some of) his work. She met him in July 1923 and he died in June 1924. She later married Lutz Lask and had a daughter. After 1939 she was interned as an enemy alien and later ran a restaurant and theatre in Brick Lane. She died in East London at the age of 54. She is buried in the East Ham (Marlow Road) Jewish Cemetery, originally in an unmarked grave. Kathi Diamant, no relation, became interested in her and wrote a book summarizing her research, Kafka’s Last Love. The Mystery of Dora Diamant, 2003.

Other famous graves: Ted Kid Lewis:


and a Jack the Ripper suspect:


More information from the cemetery staff, who sometimes sit on these chairs but don’t want their picture taken: