Various links, including IALS and statute translations

1. The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in Russell Square has occasional meetings with talks by lawyers and others. The meetings are free but you need to register – you can join their mailing list for information. Although the target audience are lawyers rather than translators, they can be very useful.

There has just been a meeting on Why is legal language so complicated? and on the From Words to Deeds blog there is a guest post by Danaë Hosek-Ugolini with a report on the event, a very useful warning as to the mental stamina you need to attend such an event. I must say I would not have expected so much on the problems of EU legislation, which are a field of their own because of the language problems and are already fairly familiar to me. I do like the term ‘the EU legislative footprint’, though!

I am curious about the work of Dr James Hadley, which (understandably) is not reported in detail :

Dr James Hadley, from the School of Advanced Study, presented the early stages of his research on equivalence and legal translation. He sought to demonstrate that if relationships between people are reproduced in different countries, equivalence could be reached in legal translation despite the differences in legal systems and concepts.

His research profile reveals little in this connection.

2. Buying essays online. Some time ago (thanks, Barbara!) the Guardian published an article with the heading An essay I bought online was so bad I want a refund – but the firm won’t pay up . The article is curiously illustrated with a full-bottomed wig shown from the back. I can’t say what exam you have to cheat in to get a full-bottomed wig.

The Guardian was, unsurprisingly, rather po-faced about this.

We phoned the website (apparently not the only one reached by the phone number) and a spokesman said he had no record of any account in your name. He also insisted the essay-writing done for students like you was “within the law”. Universities are having to invest in internet plagiarism filters to detect fake work such as this. Students, avoid these websites – you will not only lose money but could also jeopardise your academic career. You have been warned.

Plagiarism filters have been around for ages.

I wonder how this works in Germany, where so many courses are now run and tested in (global) English, which seems to be a case of the blind leading the blind. Could one get better English by using an English online service, and if so would one be marked down for using good English which was not recognized as such?

It seems that cheating may be on the increase since the increase in numbers of universities in the UK.

3. English translations of German statutes.

I’m not saying anything new when I list the ways of finding translations online, but here is a refresher (and I don’t mean the refresher you pay a barrister for a further day’s work in court).

Firstly, if it’s ‘officially’ translated you can find it under ‘Translations’ on the left-hand side on the online site run by juris (juris is a proper name and does not get translated – it confuses some non-legal translators when they first encounter it in a text, but you have to realize that many Germans love to use small letters in proper names).

I believe that to be ‘official’ a translation has to be vetted by a qualified German lawyer. Unfortunately not all these translations are wonderful, though many are.

Secondly, there is the Centre for German Legal Information site which collects translations from all over the Web. It is a fantastic collection and you can click through to search for a statute by its German name, which clearly may be what you have.

However, the cgerli site does not keep outdated statutes, even though you might still have to translate them. It also never has everything. You can inform it of dead links and new links and you should do that.

There is also the German Law Archive site. originally at Oxford University, run by Gerhard Dannemann, which is in the process of being upgraded. There are a lot of statute links there.

If this all fails, translations can often be found elsewhere by any internet search. They all have to be taken with a pinch of salt. But they can be very useful.

Here’s an example of a curiosity I found recently when I was translating something about assembly rights. The police in Frankfurt am Main have a page all about assembly rights. It even contains a translation of the German assembly Act, albeit into Denglish:

Dictate of peacefulness

Regarding the Constitution, every assembly deserves protection as long as it is peaceful (means nonviolent), and carried out without weapons. In this connection you have to bear in mind that an assembly in its totality (means majority) has to be violent to be called “non-peaceful”.

As long as it’s comprehensible, this can be useful for clients.

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