Bavarian invention hits the big time abroad

One of the curiosities of Bavaria, and more specifically of beer festivals, is the (mooli/daikon) radish cutting device, which you can see and hear explained on YouTube here.


I am now shocked at the rise of the spiralizer in the UK. Apparently it makes it easier for you to get your ‘five a day’.

Transform your 5-a-day into spaghetti-style spirals to make meals healthier and convert everyone into a curly fruit and vegetable fan. Perfect for preparing coleslaw or salads, the Spiralizer is also great for getting the most out of your vegetables with the latest in food trends: vegetable spaghetti. Feed in raw courgette, carrot or aubergine and it produces fine, looping strands which can be cooked in next to no time so that vegetables retain their vitamin content and act as a quick-cook substitute to pasta.

Telegraph: The best spiralizers, tried and tested

They claim it was a Japanese invention, but I gather some Germans have had spiralizers in the family for decades.

Lord Chancellor’s advice on language

From The Independent: Michael Gove instructing his civil servants on grammar

Mr Gove, who studied English at Oxford University’s Lady Margaret Hall, is notorious for his obsession with correct language. While secretary of state for education, he changed the curriculum so that schoolchildren studied more classical literature. “It’s slightly patronising,” said a Whitehall source. “It does feel like the sort of thing someone would do when they have too much time on their hands.”

It appears there are a lot of style guides for civil servants, most probably not available online, and for a minister to request this kind of thing is not unusual. Apparently William Hague requested all correspondence to be written in the Ariel font, except correspondence to himself, which was to be in Georgia. However (to start a sentence in a way he bans), The Independent is keeping an eye on Michael Gove. He was unpopular with teachers but does have more brain cells than the last Lord Chancellor. But how will he use them?

On the subject of civil servants’ language, here is a PDF on Mandarin English

You will recall that
No you won’t.
You will wish to be aware
No you won’t, it’s bad news I’m afraid.
You may wish to consider [doing this]
Do this or else!
You Should Be Aware
Even worse news – not my fault, honest.

Changes in legal terminology

If a legal concept changes slightly, a new term may be introduced to replace the old.

For instance:
enduring power of attorney (EPA) up till September 2007
lasting power of attorney (LPA) from October 2007

These are the common powers of attorney you might take out for an aged parent while they are still compos mentis and have registered later. There are definite differences so the distinction is necessary.

But what about family-law terms like
custody > residence
access > contact

See John Bolch, A matter of terminology:

Perhaps the best known example – one that still catches out lay people (and some older lawyers) – is the new names given to the two main types of children’s order by the Children Act 1989. Out went the old terms ‘custody’ (which, incidentally, is still understood throughout the English-speaking world) and ‘access’. In their place came ‘residence’ and ‘contact’. I acknowledge that ‘residence’ has a different meaning to ‘custody’, but is a ‘contact order’ really that different to what an ‘access order’ used to be?

See that article for more on: child arrangement, ancillary relief > financial remedy, Divorce Registry > Principal Registry, registrar > district judge, child mnaintenance > child support > child maintenance, absent parent/person with care > non-resident parent/parent with care > paying parent/ receiving parent > parent who pays/parent who receives

As John writes about custody and access, these are terms familiar throughout the English-speaking world. It’s all quite a pain for translators out of English, and also into English, especially if they don’t translate from German for one specific jurisdiction.

In a later post, also on Marilyn Stowe’s family law blog, (Are the terms ‘custody’ and ‘access’ really degrading?). John Bolch writes that the terms custody and access are still sometimes used but some regard them as degrading. This sounds as if the change in terminology was regarded as a move towards PC.

My personal bugbear is the replacement in England of plaintiff by claimant. There was no change of meaning that might have justified this: it was purely done because the hoi polloi were not expected to understand it. But the term remains used in Ireland and hence in the EU, in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. When I translate into English for German clients my translations are not just for England so I always write plaintiff.

Ford Fiesta

It’s probably an illusion that Hornchurch was named after these horns, but it seems there was a bull’s head and horns on an earlier church.


But the Resurrection Window appears to be post-medieval:


Note computer, Spitfire and car:


Details of how to ring and ringers’ jugs at The Bells of Hornchurch.

I was impressed that they were ringing this lunchtime, but was told that it is all about Waterloo, and too jingoistic for my informant.

Machine translation attacking Germans

Machine translation has its uses, but this isn’t one of them.

fire en

fire de

The giveaway is the translation of staircase as satircase, which means the person who arranged the machine translation made a typo and the MT program couldn’t deal with it. I also suspect that enter was interpreted as entering something on a computer, hence the translation of eingeben.

Missing letters in London

Apparently it’s National Blood Week and the letters A, B and O are disappearing from London signs, which presumably will only make the problem worse.

I’m still trying to work out these two on the side of the former Foyles building:



The Y has been moved, but are there blood groups I haven’t heard of, is someone having fun or has Foyles been able to flog off specific letters?

Harry Rowohlt dies; interview by Gregor Gysi

The famous translator Harry Rowohlt has died at the age of seventy. I remember him playing the tramp in Lindenstraße (Coronation Street transferred to Munich).

Unfortunately work prevents me from listening to this interview (tweeted by Don Dahlmann):

Gregor Gysi befragt Harry Rowohlt

Richard Schneider reports a cartoon with the caption that in comaprison with Rowohlt’s translations, there is a lot missing in the original:

Welchen Ruf Harry Rowohlt als Übersetzer hatte, bringt jedoch am besten ein Cartoon der Karikaturisten Hauck & Bauer auf den Punkt. Dort sagt ein literaturbegeisterter Mittdreißiger beim Bummel über die (vermutlich Frankfurter) Buchmesse zu seiner Begleiterin: “Das Buch musst du in der Übersetzung von Harry Rowohlt lesen. Im Original geht da viel verloren.” Die Zeichnung macht jetzt überall die Runde und ist unter anderem auf der Facebook-Seite des Zeit-Magazins zu finden.


I’ve been away for a week and not posted for a month, so while I gear myself up for more, here are a few things:

1. Der Berg kreißt und gebiert eine Maus: a translator had to render this in English and of course the equivalent The mountain has laboured and brought forth a mouse (from Horace: Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus) is even less used in English than the former in German. It depends on the context whether you might use it.
One suggestion was to look at this discussion at English Language & Usage Stack Exchange (‘a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts’). The discussion is interesting. The questioner thinks the expression is Japanese. ‘Without much to show for it’ might work; I have my doubts about ‘I tried to shit but only farted’.

2. It’s probably just as well that I haven’t got time to read this: Pseudo-English: Studies on False Anglicisms in Europe, edited by Cristiano Furiassi, edited by Henrik Gottlieb

3. It was the Naked Bike Ride on Saturday, though I didn’t make it with my camers. On this occasion a tweet by Matthew Scott:

Naked tourists pissing on sacred site, causing earthquake: 3 days jail.

Harmless eccentric breaching ASBO: 30 mths jail.


Scott wrote an article in the Telegraph: Naked rambler: why have we spent £300,000 imprisoning this harmless eccentric?

An Asbo was deliberately imposed so that if Gough breached it, he could be imprisoned:

It can be an offence to cause a public nuisance and to “harm the morals of the public or their comfort, or obstruct the public in the enjoyment of their rights”. But as an earlier and more successful nudist, Vincent Bethell, showed in 2001, juries are reluctant to find that merely being naked in the street does anything of the sort.

Mr Gough could have been charged with the same offence but, as Hampshire prosecutors no doubt realised, that would have required them to persuade a jury that his nakedness had “harmed the morals of the public.” Since there was no evidence that it had done so – although some people objected to the sight of him wandering around the streets of Eastleigh – a jury would have been likely to acquit. They could have achieved and did secure a few convictions in the Magistrates’ Courts for minor public order offences, but these were too trivial in themselves to put him behind bars.

4. Gamsbart

This was a word that Obama’s interpreter had to contend with off the cuff last week.

Wikipedia says:

The Gamsbart (German pronunciation [‘gamsbɑːʁt], literally chamois beard, plural Gamsbärte) is a tuft of hair traditionally worn as a decoration on trachten-hats in the alpine regions of Austria and Bavaria.

Originally worn as a hunting trophy and made exclusively from hair from the chamois’ lower neck, Gamsbärte are today manufactured on a large scale from various animals’ hair and are commonly sold by specialized dealers and also at souvenir shops.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on 7 June (article no longer online):

Die wirkliche Herausforderung steht der deutschen Übersetzerin, die Obama begleitet, aber noch bevor. Merkel führt ihn zu einigen Männern, auf deren Hüten eine Art Staubwedel in die Luft steht. Es gibt kein englisches Wort für Gamsbart, aber die Übersetzerin findet offenkundig eine brauchbare Umschreibung und deutet dazu auf ihren Rücken, was an der Stelle sein dürfte, wo sie erklärt, dass die Haare für den Bart vom Rücken der Gams stammen. Obama guckt interessiert und schließlich zufrieden, auch wenn man nicht sicher sein kann, wie er Michelle in Washington erklären wird, dass es in Deutschland Tiere gibt, denen ein Bart auf dem Rücken wächst.

Well, all she had to know was what it is, and she must have realized she was going to be faced with a raft of Bavariana.

(Thanks to Übersetzer-Blog)