Making mistakes in German (Raed Saleh, Erasmus students in Austria)

1. Raed Saleh is a German SPD politician, who was born in the West Bank (Westjordanland) but grew up in Germany. He is a potential next mayor of Berlin, but it seems a large number of journalists believe his German is too bad. An article in taz, Ein dubioses Hörproblem (with a video clip so you can hear Saleh speaking), disagreed: it analysed the transcript of a TV interview and counted up the errors made by Saleh and the two interviewers. I wouldn’t say Saleh has a foreign accent, but some say he has, and it appears that he can’t be mentioned without the word ‘migrant’ being used, and more errors are heard in his German than are there.

As some of the commenters rightly say, if he does speak excellent German it still doesn’t qualify him to be the mayor of Berlin!

(Via Sprachlog)

2. Linz University has an (Upper) Austrian – German – English dictionary to help visiting Erasmus students (Zur besseren Verständigung zwischen (ober)österreichischen Studenten und Erasmus-Studenten).
The entries are marked as rural (L: ländlicher Raum), urban (S: städtischer Raum) and urban/Viennese (W: wienerisch/städtisch), and also as positive, negative and neutral, though these terms are not explained in English. Red marks language that should not be used.
It seems to refer to spoken language. The English looks fine, although defeated by Leberkäs (‘a type of meat popular in Austria’). And I feel some of the vocabulary is chosen because it’s funny, although it’s probably rare (Beamtenforelle, Holzpyjama – and how often in Linz do they talk about a schöne Leich nowadays?). It’s not all Austrian (den Löffel abgeben) and some is just pronunciation/spelling (moanen: meinen).

Notting Hill carnival – not

I didn’t go to the Notting Hill Carnival because it was pouring with rain (might have meant less of a crush though) and I was going to a Chinese film anyway. I was also disturbed by Time Out’s recommendation that you shouldn’t take a digital camera in case it gets stolen.

Canon Deutschland has just sent me a newsletter recommending the carnival, which it claims takes place on the last weekend in August every year (that would be tomorrow), and suggesting that I should get there early to get a good photography position. But surely not eleven-and-a-half months early?

Eine andere Veranstaltung, die einen Besuch wert ist, ist der Notting Hill Carnival, das größte Straßenfestival Europas, das jedes Jahr am letzten Wochenende im August stattfindet. Das zweitägige Festival zieht über eine Million Feiernde an und erweckt mit viel Musik und Tanz die sonst verschlafenen Straßen des Londoner Künstlerviertels zum Leben. Das Tolle daran: Die Veranstaltung ist kostenlos.

Der Notting Hill Carnival wurde 1965 von der schwarzen Gemeinde Londons ins Leben gerufen mit dem Ziel, die Menschen zusammenzubringen und die Musik und Kultur der Karibik zu feiern. Er bot den Londonern die Möglichkeit, in eindrucksvoll verzierten Kostümen auf den Straßen zu tanzen und zu feiern. In unserem neuen Kurzfilm, der die Einführung unseres Fotomanagement-Services irista feiert, erfahren Sie mehr über das Festival und eines seiner Gründungsmitglieder.

Im Laufe seiner 50-jährigen Geschichte ist der Notting Hill Carnival immer größer geworden. Er ist ein unvergleichliches Erlebnis und bietet Fotografen mit seinen farbenprächtigen Kostümen, weltoffenen Feiernden und inspirierenden Atmosphäre viele tolle Gelegenheiten für Schnappschüsse. Wenn Sie etwas früher kommen, finden Sie noch einen guten Platz, um die atemberaubenden Kostüme der Hauptparade zu fotografieren. Oder stürzen Sie sich bei Sonnenuntergang in die tanzenden Menschenmassen und halten Sie das Geschehen bei wunderschönem, fast magischem Licht fest.

Some links

1. In Court in the act: How many European Courts are there? the IPKAT discusses the confusion:

Confusingly similar — but these folk shouldn’t be confused. The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has emailed the information that a new intellectual property case has been referred to the Court of Justice, but it has got itself into something of a mess as to which Court of Justice it means. After the EU’s judicial institutions were renamed, this weblog, in common with many other people and publications, has practised calling the EU’s Court of Justice the Court of Justice of the European Union, abbreviating it as the CJEU. The UKIPO however prefers to refer to this Court as the European Court of Justice and to abbreviate it as the ECJ.

2. Prof. Dr. Thomas M.J. Möllers of Augsburg University has set up a database of some areas of German and EU commercial law: Daten­bank zum deut­schen und euro­päi­schen Wirt­schafts­recht which looks useful and will be kept updated. Link from Unternehmensrechtliche Notizen, the weblog of Prof. Dr. Ulrich Noack.

3. Angry solicitors
It’s not easy to find a good solicitor, except by recommendation. I was dissatisfied with one firm, but a recommendation to find a further recommendation via the Law Society was not useful. I mean, I knew in advance it wouldn’t be. But I established that firms pay something to be accredited by the Law Society, The Law Society: Find a solicitor you naturally have to pay a fee. So firms with enough work have little incentive to be on that lis (rather like Which’s lists recommending builders and tradesmen, which I’ve also had problems with).

Anyway, The Law Gazette reports that

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has agreed to share its data on solicitors with comparison websites set up by third parties by the end of this year.
The regulator has responded to a call from the Legal Services Consumer Panel to provide more information for online registers of practitioners.
In a letter to the panel, SRA executive director Crispin Passmore said a ‘data extract’ – likely to include the size of the firm and any disciplinary issues in the past – will be in place by Christmas.

Of course, the fact that there have been a large number of complaints against a firm does not mean that these were upheld. I recommend reading the comments under the article:

… I’ll let the moronic comsuner panels and ombudsmen, and touchy-feely “empowerment in legal choices” briage into a secret here [hush]… people pay to be included in a comparison site, it isn’t done out of the goodness of anyone’s heart.
That’s right. Amazing though it may sound, you don’t have to have to be the best to be on the “Bestsest ever solicitors .com” – you just have to set up the monthly direct debit! And who is going to pay a comparison website to publicise their complaints data?
I didn’t even know that the “Chair” of the Legal Services Consumer Panel (£15,000 per year for turning up 30 days a year) has a blog. Now I do know, I still can’t read it, because of the irresistable urge to burn my PC.

Btw, the Chair does have a blog, but she doesn’t know the difference between a blog and a post.

(Via Delia Venables)

Estate agents’ photos

Here’s a book that hasn’t yet been published, but the examples look promising:

Terrible Estate Agent Photos by Andy Donaldson.

Some nice captions too:

‘After days of waiting this agent’s patience is finally rewarded. Weak with thirst, a pair of wild mattresses appear at the watering hole.’

I wouldn’t have seen they were mattresses on a quick look.

There is also a blog called Terrible real estate agent photographs
. It is apparently the predecessor of the book.

Links, blogroll

This site is only two months old on WordPress, and I certainly intend to add more pages with links to useful material.

At the moment I’ve added a page with a partial blogroll, but it’s a work in progress and the work I put in to describe the blogs and give their language is not visible.

The link is in the right sidebar near the top.

‘Legal Language’, Economist article revisited

In November 2012 I referred to a new Economist article encouraging lawyers to translate (Economist on translation and the law). The article was recommending translation as a good career prospect for underworked lawyers. There was particular reference to TransPerfect.

At that time I don’t think there were any comments on the article, but there are twenty-one now. The article and my blog post were on November 10, and the comments – largely by translators – started on November 14. An interesting discussion.

Here’s part of a comment by NYCLanguageLawyer:

I am also a US qualified lawyer working in document review in Spanish and Portuguese. I have been steadily employeed in these temporary projects for quite some time, but inoalls is correct, these projects do not lead to permanent employment. I also agree that these law firms these law firms that hire people like us do not realize the full benefit of having someone who is not only fluent in the language, but able to act as a liasion between them and their foreign clients. I recently worked on a review in which the documents captured were clearly not what the firm had been looking for. I asked to see a list of the search terms and it was no wonder they got the result they did, they simply translated English legal terms into Portuguese, not taking into account the variations in the legal systems. I mentioned this to the supervising attornesy and gave them a list of more specialized terms to search for. This is an example of how firms are not making an investment in associates who bring languages to the table.

Books for translators

The Danish study I discussed in the last post mentioned one book written by translators: Found in Translation. How Language Shapes our Lives and Transforms the World (Kelly & Zetzsche 2012). The purpose of that book is to inform non-translators about the importance of translation and interpreting.

A book I have mentioned (with extracts) in the past is The Prosperous Translator, by Eugene Seidel and Chris Durban. That would be very useful for people starting out as translators.

Another recent book worth considering is 101 Things a Translator Needs to Know, by the WLF Think Tank. Here’s the book’s website, where you can find all about the book and the co-authors.

WLF Think Tank is an ad hoc organisation, a virtual body of experienced practising translators that has met as the WordLink Forum at frequent intervals since 1995 to discuss the state of the profession. Its members include keynote speakers at translation conferences, teachers of translation and prominent exponents of the profession on three continents.

On the book:

101 Things a Translator Needs to Know is a book for beginners.
It’s also a book for seasoned professionals, students and teachers.
For freelancers and staff translators.
For amateurs and experts, generalists and super-specialists – be they certified and sworn, recognised, authorised or simply tantalised by translation’s potential for a varied and enriching career.
It’s a compilation of insights from a broad spectrum of successful translation professionals with some 500 years of collective experience in fields ranging from highly technical to literary. No gripes, no grouses, just a selection of insights into what translation involves and practical tips about how a professional translator needs to think, work and act when dealing with clients and colleagues.

Although this isn’t a book by bloggers, it would probably be unthinkable without the internet. Surely some of the contributors have met each other at conferences over the years, but they and others are familiar to me from translators’ mailing lists, which are good sources of information about the profession (and were probably even better sources when they were a new idea).

Translator stars and heroes: a Danish study of translators’ weblogs

Helle V. Dam has written an article on translators’ weblogs. It appeared in a collection in 2013 – the whole 20-page article can be found as a PDF online: The Translator Approach in Translation Studies – reflections based on a study of translators’ weblogs. . It’s part of a number of research projects in translation studies that are focused on the translator and possibly to be called ‘translator studies’.

I saw it on Richard Schneider’s blog at Selbstbeweihräucherung oder PR für die Übersetzerbranche? (German article with several extracts from the article, in English).

The study is based on the front pages of 20 weblogs on 8 October 2012, including the translators’ self-presentations where present.

The 20 weblogs studied are ‘drawn from the blog trekker page of the American Translators Association’ on 8 October 2012. Here is the blog trekker page at the date of this post. There are well over 100 blogs there – 168 on the day it was consulted for the study (not all translators’ blogs though – but why is Fucked Translation missing?), so the selection is not random. There’s quite an emphasis on self-promotion in the blogs, so one wonders whether the selection was made after the focus was chosen. Perhaps so. But since Transblawg, one of the first translation blogs, started in 2003 there has been a huge blooming of the translator weblog worlds, and self-promotion and promotion of other translators is certainly a feature that has often struck me. Here’s something on the choice of bloggers:

In the selection of respondents, every effort was made to ensure a sample of translators with a strong professional profile, thus presumably at the high end of the translatorstatus continuum.

Statements like the following seem based on the particular selection:

Translators blog, they blog extensively and enthusiastically, and as we shall see, they quite learly blog for empowerment. They also blog to boost their businesses (cf. Dam in progress), but the focus and aim of the present study is to investigate what blogging translators say to enhance their own and their profession’s status. … Applied to the present study, I assume that blogging translators contribute to changing (or perpetuating) existing perceptions of themselves and their profession – including their occupational status – by talking or writing about these issues in a certain way.

I wonder how far translator blogs can change the perceptions of translation – it depends on who reads the blogs.

There are paragraphs on income and pay rates, skills and expertise, and visibility/fame:

The translators in the sample, however, are clearly networkers and use their blogs to create an authentic community of blogging translators. They link to each other’s blogs, they comment on each other’s blog posts, they write guest posts on each other’s blogs, they share jokes, experiences and knowledge, and they also refer very explicitly to each other in their blog posts …

I won’t summarize the whole thing but I was particularly interested in the topic of self-promotion and the way translators create ‘translator heroes’.

The bloggers in the sample also mention and promote translators outside the blog community.
For example, in a report from an ATA conference, one blog author refers to a non-blogging translator as follows: “star translator and international speaker Chris Durban” (15, 3). This leads us to a different, but related, feature of the blogs: the construction of professional ‘stars’. … Not only do they emphasize the star qualities of some translators, such as the “star translator” Chris Durban in the above quote, they also cite interviews with translators whom they consider important and write glowing, obituary-like blog posts in which fellow translators are raised to stardom.

Dam mentions what is known as BIRGing (basking in reflected glory).

It does tend to irritate me that there are certain people and books that one feels a certain community of translators regards as sacrosanct so that criticism of them would appear petty and peevish. I’m not sure how far this kind of thing originates in American blogs – but not all the blogs in the sample are U.S. ones.

And then there are those blogs or sites that appear from nowhere offering a prize for the best language blog and inviting everyone to vote in order to increase their own traffic by buttering up translation bloggers.

The wider societal impact of translation is also often commented on. For example, several of the translators-cum-bloggers devote entire blog posts to describing a recently published book with the suggestive title Found in Translation. How Language Shapes our Lives and Transforms the World (Kelly & Zetzsche 2012). As one blogger says:

“It’s absolutely delightful that we finally have a mainstream book about our profession that’s accessible and interesting to those who are not in the profession. Ultimately, as a profession, we want the general public to know that what we do matters, and this book will leave little doubt that what we do matters a great deal.” (11, 2)

There is a final caveat, along the lines of the oozlum bird:

A discipline that studies its own practitioners is, however, neither very common nor unproblematic. Law scholars, for example, do not study lawyers but stick to studying the law. The reasons are obvious. By studying the law, legal scholars increase the body of knowledge in their discipline and thus enable its practitioners, and their own students, to become increasingly skilled and knowledgeable. Should translation scholars not be doing the same, studying translation (including translation tools, the development of translation competence, etc.) rather than translators? Are translation scholars not letting down translation students and practitioners if they study translators rather than increase the existing knowledge about translation? As we have seen, translators suffer from a low-skill image even as it is; if translation scholars do not focus on increasing the knowledge base of translation, they may in fact do more harm than good to the profession.

As for myself, my blog is not part of a blogging network, but I admit to wishing to appear knowledgeable about legal translation. I started it in 2003 after I had stopped teaching, and my original idea was to include a lot of the information I’d collected as a teacher of law and legal translation in a more permanent form than in a mailing list, together with trivial information about my life in Fürth. At the time when I started blogging, other translators often had more diary-like forms. Blogs vary from the ones analysed here. For instance, Richard Schneider’s blog I regard as a source of translation news rather than a record of the blogger’s own translation life. Or Martin Crellin’s German blog, False Friends, Good and Bad Translation discusses translation problems and errors.

Finally, here are the blogs referenced and links to them:

About Translation, by Riccardo Schiaffino
Catherine Translates, by Catherine Jan (author now an in-house copywriter)
Financial Translation Blog, by Miguel I. Llorens (author died in September 2012 but blog still there)
Musings from an overworked translator, by Jill R. Sommer
Naked Translations, by Céline Graciet
On Language and Translation, by Barabara Jungwirth
Patenttranslator’s Blog, by Steve Vitek
Thoughts On Translation, by Corinne McKay
Translate This, by Michael Wahlster
Translating is an Art, by Percy Balemans
Translation Times, by Judy and Dagmar jenner
Translation Tribulations, by Kevin Lossner
Translationista, by Susan Bernofsky (note change of address)
The Translator’s Teacup, by Rose Newell
Fidus Interpres, by Fabio Said (I htink this one is dead – was very prolific and has gone into book form)
The Greener Word, by Abigail Dahlberg (I fear this is dead – I liked it as a subject-specific translation blog)
The Interpreter Diaries, by Michelle Hof
Mox’s Blog, by Alejandro Moreno-Romos
Say What? by Alexander C. Totz (Apparently dead – author has started two non-translation blogs)
Words to good effect, by Marian Dougan

Football – Lokalderby

On Monday, there was a match between FC Nürnberg and Greuther Fürth. Both are in the 2. Liga at the moment.

Lisa Neun, one of the earliest bloggers I remember, who blogs cartoons from Fürth, also belongs to a group of Fürth supporters in Erlangen. See the cartoon Warum ich Frankenderbys liebe.

The reason why Greuther Fürth’s symbol is a green cloverleaf has nothing to do with the Germans’ love of Irish pubs. The cloverleaf is a symbol found all over Fürth architecture – for reasons unknown – and green is the club’s colour.



Fürth won by 5 to 1 and the Nuremberg fans contributed some real fireworks.