The Bluebook and copyright

In ‘Bluebook’ Critics Incite Copyright Clash , The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports that some ‘legal activists’ are planning to post online what they call a simpler, free alternative. This may or may not be called Baby Blue.

The activists (Carl Malamud and Christopher Jon Sprigman) have received a letter from the Harvard Law Review’s lawyers claiming copyright infringement if they use a title with ‘blue’ in it. But the copyright objections will apparently extend to the work itself.

The book is expected to be published in early 2016 in an editable form.

Messrs. Malamud and Sprigman’s effort could resonate with some in the legal community. The Bluebook has its critics, including Judge Richard Posner, who wrote an entire law journal essay** arguing that the 511-page manual exemplifies “hypertrophy,” a word “used mainly to denote a class of diseases in which an organ grows to an abnormal size.”

** Richard A. Posner, The Bluebook Blues (reviewing Harvard Law Review Association, The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed., 2010)),” 120 Yale Law Journal 852 (2011). (PDF)

A quote from the Posner essay:

Many years ago I wrote a review of The Bluebook, then in its sixteenth edition. My review was naively entitled “Goodbye to the Bluebook.” The Bluebook was then a grotesque 255 pages long. It is now in its nineteenth
edition-which is 511 pages long.
I made a number of specific criticisms of The Bluebook in that piece, and I will not repeat them. I don’t believe that any of them have been heeded, but I am not certain, because, needless to say, I have not read the nineteenth edition. I have dipped into it, much as one might dip one’s toes in a pail of freezing water. I am put in mind of Mr. Kurtz’s dying words in Heart of Darkness – “The horror! The horror!” -and am tempted to end there.

Et seq. etc. pp.

Warning: this post is both too long and not exhaustive!

Query in a translators’ mailing list: is it OK to translate German ‘ff.’ as ‘et seq.’?

I would say: probably leave ff., which is less stuffy, but if it’s in a list of statute sections, you can use et seq.

In my usage, one might quote a statute writing ‘Article 31 et seq.’, this being a specifically legal context. But in quoting pages from a book, even a law book, the choice would be ‘pp. 60 ff.’

Here’s a Google search of the UK statute law database:
“et seq”
It gets 237 ghits.
This at least shows that the term is used in the UK (one colleague thought it might be mainly US).

Notes on this:

ff. in German stands for folgende.
ff. in English stands for and the following.
Germans often think ‘ff.’ is a Germanism and the translator doesn’t know what they are doing.

et seq. stands for et sequens
et seqq. seems sometimes to be used in US English for et sequentes (no ghits at UK statute database)

There are some variations here depending on what style guide you use.
You may omit the full stop (period) consistently.
For example, is there a leading space before ff.? Always, in my opinion, but the Chicago Style Manual says never, and so does Judith Butcher, and this is repeated by some sources on the Web.
‘Et seq.’ is used in strictly legal texts but is getting a bit old-fashioned.

The following is a collection of random remarks:

If you translate a lot of bibliographies, you will have to decide how to write page references in English.
DE S. 41 f. EN pp. 41 f. / pp. 41-42 / 41-42
DE S. 41 ff. EN pp. 41 ff. / 41 ff.
all with or without leading space or full stop or ‘p.’ or ‘pp.’

In citing statutes, whether using ff. or et seq., you can decide what to do with the German §§
US English uses § for section. If German uses two §§, do you use singular or plural in English?
DE §§ 3-4 Br EN section 3 – 4 / sections 3 – 4 US EN § 3 – 4 /§§ 3 – 4
Both are encountered.

What style guides are there, especially for legal English?

For British usage, OSCOLA (the Oxford Standard for Citation Of Legal Authorities) is the way to go. The website also has a section on the 2006 materials on citing international law (not foreign law), which was not dealt with in the 2012 edition. You can download the whole 2012 and 2006 editions, or order the book in spiral binding – may even be available second-hand. However, OSCOLA does not answer the current questions!

Past entries on guides Style guides and law review, The Times Online Style Guide now no longer online but a Google search leads to the wayback machine (, and more.

General English style guides vary in their approach. For the UK, New Hart’s Rules (OUP) and the New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors are commonly used. New Hart’s Rules contains a section on Law and legal references that is welcome, but does not deal with et seq. Another useful reference is Copy Editing by Judith Butcher (who died this year). I have not got the latest edition. She writes:

f., ff., et seq.: ‘pp. 95f.’ means p. 95 and the following page; ‘pp. 95 ff.’ or ‘pp. 95 et seq.’ means p. 05 and an unspecified number of following pages; so do not make f. and ff. ‘consistent’. ff. is preferable to et seq., but a pair of page numbers is better. Remember that in all these cases one should use pp., not. p.

Et seq. is italicized here. Of course, translators can’t give a pair of page numbers if the original doesn’t, except in the case of ‘p. 95 f.’ where it must be ‘ pp. 95-96’.

I won’t have exhausted the UK resources, as a number of newspapers and journals have style guides. Nor have I had the MRA style guide since I wrote my thesis.

One US resource is The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. I think this varies from edition to edition; I have the seventeen
th. It merely prohibits the use of ‘et seq.’, preferring precise page numbers. Not much help to us translators. Then there is the ALWD Citation Manual. A Professional System of Citation, of which I have the second edition. This leads to the same result: if you look up et seq. in the index, it refers to a paragraph citing specific page numbers. Garner’s Dictionary of Usage says the same, althogh it adds, unhelpfully:

Hence the phrase et seq. (short for et sequentes = the following ones) should be used sparingly if at all. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that et seq. serves also as the abbreviation for the singular et sequens (= and the following one), though presumably few users of the phrase know that.

Black’s Law Dictionary adds nothing.

There is quite a useful discussion of the translator’s dilemma here on LEO.

Finally, there is an interesting New Zealand Law Style Guide online, worth looking at for ideas, and it has an accompanying blog.

German juror in hot water

Miklas Scholz, professor of civil engineering at Salford University, caused a trial in which he was a juror to collapse because he researched the defendant on the internet. He claims that when the judge told the jurors they would be ‘in hot water’ if they did this, he did not understand what was meant.

The Independent writes (with mugshot):

“I just did not understand what the phrase ‘in hot water’ meant in this context. It just seems meaningless,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

“I have written many journals so I am used to writing in proper English and proper sentences and wouldn’t use words and phrases like being ‘in hot water’ to describe being in trouble because it is not correct.

“They don’t mean anything, definitely not in the context of looking on the internet.

“You would say someone is ‘in trouble’ and the judge should have said that.”

Sharon Byrd

I was sorry to hear that Sharon Byrd died last year – in March 2014 in fact. She was only a couple of weeks younger than me. I completely missed it but I hadn’t been in touch for years. I copy below her bio on the Beck Verlag website. (By the way, you can see forthcoming publications there and I see that new editions of Dietl Lorenz in both DE>EN and EN>DE are announced for 2016).

When I was teaching various classes on English law, legal English and translation at the Instit für Fremdsprachen und Auslandskunde in Erlangen, Sharon was teaching legal English and US law at the university there, and she let my students come to her classes. I sat in once and watched her technique of getting the law students to argue about whether it was acceptable to throw out evidence because it had been gathered in an unreliable way. Although she was particularly interested in criminal law – she taught everything – her greatest interest was Kant. I was impressed and envious of her knowledge of philosophy, and quite incapable of understanding what she and her husband wrote on Kant and criminal law. Her first degree was in philosophy.

Sharon also taught at Augsburg and later for some years at Jena, where she helped her students to great success in moot court competitions.

There’s an obituary (PDF) by Heather M. Roff in the Newsletter of the North American Kant Society.

Prof. Dr. B. Sharon Byrd


• Angloamerican Jurisprudenc
• Angloamerican law
• Rechtsenglisch (USA)

Weitere Tätigkeiten

1996 Hon.-Prof. Univ. Erlangen


Studium Rechtswissenschaft, Philosophie

Beruflicher Werdegang

• 1969 B. A. Smith College-Department of Philosophy Northhampton Massachusetts/USA
• 1972 J. D. Univ. of California Los Angeles
• 1987 LL. M., 1991 J. S. D. Columbia Univ. New York
• Prof. Univ. Jena
• Leiterin Law & Language Center Univ. Jena


• Einführung in die anglo-amerikanische Rechtssprache 1997, 2. A. 2001
• Anglo-Amerikanisches Vertrags- und Deliktsrecht 1998
• Romain Alfred/Bader Hans Anton/Byrd Sharon B. Wörterbuch der Rechts- und Wirtschaftssprache Teil 1 Englisch-Deutsch, 5. A. 2000
• Romain Alfred/Byrd Sharon B./Thielecke Carola Wörterbuch der Rechts- und Wirtschaftssprache Teil 2 Deutsch-Englisch, 4. A. 2002

Right-side cryptorchidism

The story that Hitler had only one testicle has been in the news again, following the publication of a book by Peter Fleischmann. I thought this had long been confirmed, but it seems that publications during the Cold War may have been suspect.

German historian Professor Peter Fleischmann claims to have discovered the results of a medical examination on Hitler after his arrest in 1923. The reports confirm that Hitler suffered from a birth defect known as “right-side cryptorchidism” – an undescended right testicle.

The records were thought to have been lost but resurfaced at an auction in Bavaria in 2010. They were quickly confiscated by the Bavarian government before being studied at Erlangen-Nuremberg University.

This would disprove reports that it was blown off in the First World War.

Hydrophobic in Hackney

It’s ‘peeback’ time in Shoreditch and Dalston reports the use of paint that urinates back at you. Who first had the idea that Ultra-Ever Dry paint would work like this? Apparently Hamburg beat San Francisco to it.

San Francisco is not the first city to implement urine-repelling paint. The city of Hamburg, Germany has also used the paint and saw a decrease in people who use the streets as a bathroom.

“Based on Hamburg, we know this pilot program is going to work,” Nuru said. “It will reduce the number of people using the walls. I really think it will deter them.”

Boar’s Head Ceremony

Worshipfuls saying cheese.


By chance I was near Regent’s Park just before this year’s Boar’s Head ceremony started at 15.40 from Oat Lane. The Worshipful Company of Butchers process through the smaller City streets to Mansion House. This is not the real boar’s head, though – apparently they do send one but are not allowed to parade with it, so papier mâché has to do.


Here they are turning into Gresham Street: