German Civil Code/BGB-Kommentar kostenlos online verfügbar

Below I post parts of a press release from Karriere-Jura GmbH, which is publishing the German text and a commentary to the German Civil Code free of charge online. There is no need to register.

The whole Code is online, but only some parts have been given commentaries so far – for a list and links see in the German text below.

The publisher is encouraging lawyers to post comments to the sections, which obviously has an advertising effect. For an example, scroll down on the page to § 1371.

This should be very useful for translators. Sometimes a text deals in great detail with a section of the BGB and a commentary is the ideal source of information. But more on commentaries in a future post.

Der Online-Kommentar macht … konsequent von den Möglichkeiten des Internets Gebrauch (Details).

Hinzu tritt ein gravierender Unterschied im Konzept: Da zusätzlich zu den Fachinformationen für Juristen auch eine eigene Rubrik für den Rechtsverkehr veröffentlicht ist, wird mit Kommentar-untypischen Nutzerzahlen von bis zu einer Million Lesern jährlich gerechnet.

Bislang ist noch nicht jede Norm kommentiert. Der Verlag freut sich daher über Anfragen von Autoren, die sich zutrauen, bis zu drei Normen in hoher Qualität zu kommentieren.

Verfügbar sind z.B. bereits Kommentierungen zu folgenden §§: 80 ff. (Stiftungen); 712 ff. (Gesell­schafts­recht); 1004; 1371 ff. (Familien­recht); 611 ff. (Ar­beits­recht), 631 ff. (Werk­vertrags­recht).

Bitte beachten Sie auch das Geleitwort von Prof. Dr. iur. Dr. iur. habil. Gerrick Frhr. v. Hoyningen-Huene, das Sie hier finden: Zum Geleitwort.

Die offizielle Adresse des Kommentars lautet:

Forms of address

If, like me, you are an alumna or alumnus of King’s College London and, unlike me, you wish to attend The Lifeboat Debate: who will save humanity?, you have a choice of titles to enter. In my case, Dr was preselected, but here are more (thanks, Alison!):

Visc Dr Miss Mr Mrs Ms Professor Reverend Admiral Air Care Air Chiefe Marshal Air Cmdr Air Commodore Air Marshal Air Vice-Marshal Alderman Alderman & Sheriff Ambassador Archibishop Archdeacon Assistant Commissioner Baron Baron von Helmfels Baroness Bishop Brigadier Cader #N/A Canon Canon Emeritus Captain CB MBE PhD Chancellor Chief Justice Chief Officer Chief Rabbi Chief Technician Cllr CMG Colonel Comdt Commander Commander (D) Commodore Comtese Councillor Counsellor Count Countess Dame Datin Datin Nik Datin Sri Dato’ Dato’ Sr Datuk Deaconess Dean Detective Constable Dr & Mrs Dr Bishop Dr, Mr Dr. iur. Drs Duchess Duke Earl Elder Emeritus Emeritus Professor En Eur Ing Father Field Marshal Flight Lieutenant Flight Officer Flt Lt Flying Officer FR Frau General Group Captain Her Excellency Her Highness Her Honour Her Honour Judge Herr His Excellency His Highness High Highness Sheikh Sultan His Hon Judge His Honour His Majesty King His Royal Highess The Honourable HRH Prince HRH Princess Judge Justice Lady Lieutenant Lieutenant-Colonel Lieutenant-Commander Lieutenant-General Lord Lord Justice Lord Mayor of London Lt Col Lt Gen Madam Major Major (rtd) Major-General Marchioness Marchioness of Marquis Master Messrs Misses Mme Monsignor Pastor PC Pehin Pengiran Prebendary President Prince Princess Professor & Mrs Puan Sri Rabbi Rear-Admiral Rev Revd Canon Dr Revd Dr Right Reverend Rt Hon Rt Hon Lord Mayor Almerman Rt Revd Sanator Senior Evangelist Sergeant Sheikh Sheikha Sheriff Shri Sir Sister Smt Squadron Leader Staff Sergeant Sultan Surgeon Surgeon Captain Surgeon Commander Tan Sri Tan Sri Dato Tan Sri Datuk Tan Sri Dr The The Baroness The Dowager The Earl The Hon The Hon Mrs The Honourable The Lady The Lord The Lord Bishop The Marquess The Most Honourable The Most Rev The Rev Canon The Rev, Canon The Rev, Dr The Rev, Mr The Revd The Rev’s Canon The Revd Prebdy The Rt Hon The Rt Hon Lord The Rt Revd The Venerable The Very Rev The Viscount Toh Puan Tun Vice Admiral Viscount Viscountess W Bro Warrant Offcer 2 Bandmaster Wing Commander Sqn Ldr The Very Revd Captain Royal Navy

Some are highly dubious – I think they must have been harvested.

Boing Boing has been here before:
Brit Airways’ honorifics kick United’s ass – not at King’s, that is, but at British Airways. Who have not the same list, although they do have Her Majesty. And a German has added material in a comment.

I am particularly fond of The, standing alone.

One-day symposium on working in legal translation (London)

The University of Roehampton and JoSTrans are holding a one-day symposium in January on becoming a legal translator.

The former is in Barnes-ish according to Google Maps and calls itself ‘London’s campus university’. The latter I should have a link to already – it’s the Journal of Specialised Translation and its latest edition, the July one, has articles about translating crime fiction which may be of interest to readers of this blog. In fact I attended an excellent seminar run by Karen Seago for the CIoL which did not so much encourage me to translate crime fiction (although there are German crime novels) as to read more of it.

University of Roehampton and JoSTrans present a one-day event on Friday 9th January 2015 at the University of Roehampton, London

Becoming a Legal Translator: a symposium.

Thinking of becoming a legal translator? Already translating legal texts and keen to know more? Perhaps you are teaching on a legal translation course? This day of talks and workshops will feature speakers from a variety of backgrounds and with a wide range of experience in translating and interpreting. Highlights include keynote speeches from Richard Delaney and Juliette Scott, alongside interactive workshops on legal translation and translating for the EU. Please see attached for the full programme.

The symposium will take place in the Gilbert Scott Lecture Theatre, Whitelands College, on Friday 9th January 2015. Please join us for registration in the milling area outside the Gilbert Scott Lecture Theatre at 09:15 for a 09:45 start.

The concession fee for the symposium is £65.00 and the full conference fee is £95.00. To book a place, please visit the University of Roehampton online store by clicking here.

If you have any queries regarding the event, please contact Kristal Oakes (Academic Conferencing Co-ordinator) via email at

We look forward very much to welcoming you to the symposium and to seeing you there!​

Here is a PDF with the programme, as received by me on 24.11.14.
Becoming a Legal Translator 9 Jan 2015 Programme

Unfortunately you can’t register without creating an account, but for future events at Roehampton University you will be laughing.

Loveparade Duisburg: criminal investigation falls into the hands of translators

There’s an article in the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) on the holdups to the Loveparade case resulting from delayed or erroneous translations by two agencies: Das Loveparade-Verfahren überfordert Englisch-Übersetzer.

21 people died from asphyxiation and 541 were injured at the Loveparade 2010 in Duisburg. It seems that the ground was suitable for 250,000 people and didn’t even reach capacity before there was a crush at the entrance between those coming in and those trying to leave. (Wikipedia German, Wikipedia English).

Apparently it is still not clear exactly how the accident occurred. The court commissioned a report from Professor G. Keith Still, Professor of Crowd Science at Manchester Metropolitan University, presumably to throw light on the sequence of events. This choice of expert witness was criticized as all the documents had to be translated into English for Professor Still and his report had to be translated back into German.

Criticism was directed at the delays in translation by the first agency, and also errors in the translation by the second agency. The second agency was commissioned in June 2012. On Friday November 14, Joachim Schwartz, the presiding judge of the 5th Duisburg Strafkammer, sent out three pages of criticism of errors.

What happened in detail in the translations?

1. We don’t know when the first agency was commissioned, just that June 2012 was regarded as too late. The events took place in June 2010, and after that the documents had to be translated and sent to Professor Still and he had to write his report before any translation could be commissioned.

The article states that the public prosecutors were sometimes unsatisfied with the time they had to wait for translations, and that deadlines were repeatedly breached. This suggests that the first agency was responsible for more than one translation – perhaps the DE>EN ones as well as the EN>DE one.

The report is available online as a PDF (21 pages, contains illustrations and photos). However, there was a later extended report, dated March 2013. This second report can be downloaded from the WAZ site here in four parts.

2. On November 14 the court, as stated above, criticized the second agency’s translation. The public prosecutor’s office is waiting to give the agency a chance to respond.

One part criticized is this (from the second report):

When did the loudspeaker system cease to be effective?

Original, referring to loudspeakers: “Their deployment and use is to inform the crowds but once the entry system failed and the crowds flowed in behind the police lines the situation was already beyond the point of no return.”

Translation: “Deren Verwendung und Einsatz dient der Information der Menschenmenge, aber sobald das Eingangssystem versagte, und die Menschenmenge bis zu den Polizeikordonen geströmt war, hatte die Situation einen Punkt überschritten, wo keine Rückkehr mehr möglich war.”

The translation treats “behind the police lines” as “up to the police lines”. I presume this is important because of the allocation of responsibility.

The court also criticized that the translation was in parts dubious, in parts changed the meaning, and in one place had omitted a complete sentence.

There isn’t enough evidence here to demonstrate a really bad translation. On top of that, the report itself is controversial and much criticized by the defence.

There’s a useful German blog on Loveparade 2010:
Dokumentation der Ereignisse der Loveparade 2010 in Duisburg


I was wondering what to do with Unterlassungsgläubiger in the case of a declaration of discontinuance. If it had been Unterlassungsschuldner, I could have used declarant, and I was tending here to the other party. But as usual I wondered what others had done.

Someone on Linguee had gone for ‘the party asserting the demand for restraint’, which is correct if nothing else.

There was no ProZ discussion but one on LEO looking for both terms. Someone there suggested respondent and claimant and seemed unfamiliar with German legal terminology:

Da formuliert der Herr Anwalt schon sehr tendenziös. Er stempelt ohne jedes Gerichtsurteil jemanden für alle Zukunft (“zukünftig”) als “Schuldner” ab, obwohl jemand, der etwas unterlassen soll, per definitionem niemandem etwas schuldet. Wahrscheinlich ist die Erklärung gar nicht so lange, dass man die Firmenbezeichnungen immer wieder in Kurzform wiederholen müsste.

Sometimes obligor works for Schuldner, the normal term for a who owes a duty under civil law, but often it isn’t natural English and that depends on the purpose of the text.

There was also a link to a list of terminology on a 2003 translator’s blog:

You might find this link useful:

Scroll down to The section Wettbewerbsrecht Terminolgie I

Goodness me! that takes me back to CompuServe again – I recognize the technical translator’s name and location. I take the liberty of quoting a whole post from this presumably defunct blog:

Competition Law
Terminology I

In the short time that I have been busying myself with “Disclaimers” and “Cease-and-Desist orders”, I have come across a number of terms that, although I had no difficulty in understanding what they meant (at least well enough for a non-lawyer to get an idea of what it was all about, that is), nevertheless, I really had no idea of the accepted equivalents in British or American English (they are very likely not to be the same).

This is typical of what can happen to a technical translator from time to time. He/she gets the job of translating some boring machine manual, takes a quick look through before accepting but fails to notice that the customer has slipped in a few passages that are well outside his/her own area of expertise and there is nothing to be done about it but try to get help from somebody with an idea on the subject.

It took me well over my self-allotted 30 minutes weblog time today just to put the list together. I estimate that tracking down acceptable equivalents will take at least ten or twenty times as long! I am beginning to get a feeling that for a spare-time blogger, one or two terms per day would be quite enough to track down and document! In normal translation work, of course, while it is usual to make up a terminology list, it is not usual to do it in public! I am going to see what kind of a mess I can make of this. (It is now 2 a.m. again!)

Reading Proust in the original

It looks as if this may be a good French version for the Kindle.

The ‘most helpful’ negative review on amazon:

0 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars
Can’t read French
I ordered this edition by error. I couldn’t trace the English version. That will teach me to look at the description more closely.
Published 17 months ago by Leonard K

Germany: Memories of a Nation

(Goethe before liposuction)

I managed to see the British Museum exhibition, subtitled A History in 600 Objects, on Thursday. The accompanying radio series (I’ve only listened to one of the 15-minute episodes, now distracted by The Serial podcast) and book (has just appeared, also for Kindle) contain more detail.

The Telegraph two-star review I can understand.

MacGregor studied German at Oxford, has a lifelong passion for German history and culture, and a keen sense of their role in what makes Europe tick. These are important matters, more than worthy of greater attention, and MacGregor’s commitment shines through in the radio series, which clearly announces itself as a personal view. In the exhibition, however, this sense of identification coupled with MacGregor’s weighty professional role lends the show an oddly official air, as though it were being bankrolled by the Goethe Institute. While there’s no evidence of any such involvement parts of the show have the worthily dated air of expo exhibition stands.

The whole thing is idiosyncratic. It purports to relate to the reunified Germany which has only existed for 25 years, but it goes back hundreds of years and emphasizes the earlier larger Germany (Basel, Strasbourg, Kaliningrad; nice historical political maps) and there plenty of Luther, Holbein, Dürer, some nice Riemenschneider apostles too, in so far as a manageable exhibition with such a broad sweep can get anywhere. I didn’t so much feel there was too much text as that I didn’t feel I’d come to an exhibition with this title to read about Goethe’s Farbenlehre or the development of Meissen porcelain. I’m also not sure what ‘memories of a nation’ is supposed to mean.

It wasn’t necessary to book, and there were not too many problems of the present ubiquitous barrier of headphone wearers following the audio guide.

Some things were new to me or particularly struck me.

The model of Friedrichstrasse station created to train Stasi officials (picture in the book too). We used to cross there in 1967-1968, and a friend of mine was subjected to a body search and turned up on the East Berlin side with twenty minutes’ delay. I had no idea how it was constructed then, and looking at the model doesn’t help much now. Dr. Sabine Beneke of the Deutsches Historisches Museum is quoted (this is a building when another English friend and I were almost mown down in 1967 because we failed to see the goose-stepping soldiers patrolling in front of it):

‘I made the journey from West to East Berlin several times. … You can see clearly on the model that the station was constructed in a deliberately complex way. The spaces are divided up by very tall walls to give the effect of a labyrinth. There was no clear orientation. You can see the different train tracks were completely separated, so tracks which operated within the East German side were kept separate from those which ran through to the West German side or beyond. As you moved from the train to the exit, you kept having to change direction and change level. You went into small doors and then large spaces, then small spaces, and everyhwere in the model you can see the high windows in which observation agents or cameras were placed.’

I didn’t realize the lettering on the Buchenwald gate, which I’ve seen in situ (combines well with a trip to Weimar) was Bauhaus style.

Mutter Courage’s handcart, which I’d forgotten about – the Leiterwagen is perhaps typically German, and I used one to move house in the same road in 1984.

Barlach’s angel – I didn’t realize the original was melted down as entartete Kunst in the Third Reich.

I wasn’t aware that the only triumphant leader who marched through the Brandenburg Gate was Napoleon.

There is masses of material touched on in the exhibition: the Grimms, Caspar David Friedrich, Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, the tradition of crafts and trades – but all these things are more the material for a book. The book is huge and richly illustrated and worth getting hold of.

Daumen drücken

“Cross your fingers, or press your thumbs if you are a German, that we hear something from the lander again,” Valentina Lommatsch of the Rosetta mission control centre in Germany.

I haven’t been able to establish whether she is German by origin. The name Valentina is not common in Germany. The pressing of thumbs caused surprise in some quarters:

The Germans are weird in other ways. According to Inglorious Basterds if asked to hold up three fingers, they use thumb and next two fingers. Hollywood wouldn’t lie to us would they???

theGermanStandard is a blog by Kathrin, a teacher of German in London which explains this kind of thing. If crossing your fingers doesn’t help, try pressing your thumbs has a picture too. The gesture seems to go back to gladiator fights in ancient Rome.

As Johnson noted, crossing your fingers suggests you are hoping to avoid the worst, whereas Daumen drücken is about hoping for success.

I was excited to read the tweets from Philae Lander, in view of the fact that tweeting hadn’t been invented when it set off:

.@ESA_Rosetta I’m feeling a bit tired, did you get all my data? I might take a nap… #CometLanding

But maybe they are further evidence of alien activity on the comet:

According to an email published on the website – which does a regular trade in alien sightings – this mission is part of a European Space Agency and Nasa cover-up to disguise the comet’s true alien nature.

Legendary German bakers

It seems that the adjective legendary is applied to German bakers and pastry chefs. Actually, legendary pastry chef is a thing. Although even legendary translator gets a few ghits.

Konditor and Cook (thanks, Trevor!) have been around for a while and have a book.


Here is a brain meringue which I didn’t try:


The best-looking thing in the window was a home-made Victoria sponge. The Spectator writes:

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.

There’s another legendary German Konditormeister in Edinburgh, Falko Burkert. Stern borrows heavily from the Observer:

Jeden Monat kämpft er um die Zutaten für seine Kuchen. Er räumt den Supermarkt leer, sollte der ausnahmsweise mal Quark haben. Gehobelte Mandeln muss er aus Deutschland kommen lassen, Briten kennen nur gehackte und gemahlene Nüsse. Auch das echte Marzipan mit dem traditionellen Zweidrittelanteil Mandeln lässt er liefern. Die meisten britischen Varianten enthalten höchstens 30 Prozent. Er zahlt fast ein Drittel mehr für ungesalzene Butter (gewöhnliche Butter ist auf der Insel stets gesalzen) und muss aufpassen, dass er reines Mehl erhält und nicht solches mit Backpulver (“self raising flour” genannt).

Down here in London we pay the same for salted and unsalted butter, but perhaps it’s different when you’re bulk-buying. There’s plenty of marzipan with 30% almonds in Germany. In fact I seem to recall that 54% is the best I could get. It actually says here that Lübecker Marzipan by Niederegger has 70% Marzipanrohmasse, but then the Rohmasse already contains sugar, so that doesn’t mean 30% almonds, does it? And Falko should be capable of asking for plain flour rather than self-raising.

Joanne Blythman wrote:

For a 37-year-old, Falko is curiously old-fashioned in his instincts. He is both passionate and inspiring in his belief that time-honoured, labour-intensive, artisan skills can never be replaced by machines. He elevates taste over aesthetics. ‘I want to eat cakes, not look at them,’ he says. ‘A cake should not look like an overdecorated Christmas tree.’

His style is all about restrained amounts of sugar and subtle flavours. He will have no truck with the technological armoury used by most modern bakers, refusing, for example, to use a proving machine to speed up the making of his breads and insisting that all sponges are raised by hand in the orthodox German manner by beating air into the eggs, not with the addition of raising agents.