The three dogs

Die drei Hunde is a fairytale by, or collected by, Ludwig Bechstein, whose stories sold better than the Grimms’ in the 19th century.

The hero kills a dragon and wins the princess with the help of three dogs, who in the English version are called Salt, Pepper and Mustard. Their German names are Bring Speis’n, Zerreiß’n and Brich Stahl und Eisen (Bring Food, Tear Apart and Break Steel and Iron).

I wonder who thought of the English translation? I wonder if it was Anthea Bell. Bell, Anthea, tr. Fairy Tales of Ludwig Bechstein. Ill. Irene Schreiber. London: Abelard-Schuman, 1967. She did translate Asterix very wittily.

Anthea Bell, obituary

Flurbereinigung/Land consolidation

It seems my blog has today been running (running down?) for 16 years so here is a birthday post.

Mittagsstunde by Dörte Hansen (2018), a novel full of Plattdeutsch with the theme of Flurbereinigung reminded me of this strange process. (Hansen’s first novel, Altes Land, has been translated as This House is Mine – one wonders how the dialect was handled). In East Germany small plots of land were joined to form collectives, but in West Germany (and Austria I gather – and also in France and the Netherlands) there was a similar consolidation of small plots but not for socialist reasons.

The process was enabled by a 1953 statute, the Flurbereinigungsgesetz. I don’t think it is done much or at all now.

Very small plots of land resulted from Realteilung, the physical partition of land when inherited by several people – I don’t think the system of inheritance always meant equal partitition, though. Land consolidation was agreed by a group of people and was accompanied by changes to roads and waterways.

Wikipedia (German)

Wikipedia (English)

The effects of this process in practice, both during and after the reorganization of land, are something we didn’t have in the UK.

One aspect that has become known here is the effect of consolidation on vineyards. Wikipedia:

A very negative example of Flurbereinigung occurred in the first half of the 70’s at Kaiserstuhl (Baden-Württemberg), when great terraces where created with an inclination in direction to the hillside. The idea was to store water in the area, but heavy rains in the Pentecost week in 1983 led to flooding. Moreover, due to the inclination of the terraces in springtime (blooming time of the wine) cold air was settles, leading to frequent frost damage to the crops. [3]

And here a 2014 article from the Daily Beast (whatever that is): Germany’s Wine Revolution is Just Getting Started:

Ulli is paving the way for a new wave of wine growers who are ignoring Flurbereinigung and looking to the Prussian tax maps to scout, purchase, and salvage historically great vineyard sites, work them by hand (as opposed to restructuring them to work with machines), and produce dry-tasting wines reminiscent of those created in the 19th century.

I’m afraid that’s all for today, folks.

Im Krug zum grünen Kranze

This ‘folksong’ went through my mind after I saw a wreath on a house. Text from Projekt Gutenberg. 


Im Krug zum grünen Kranze
Da kehrt ich durstig ein:
Da saß ein Wandrer drinnen
Am Tisch bei kühlem Wein.Ein Glas war eingegossen,
Das wurde nimmer leer;
Sein Haupt ruht’ auf dem Bündel,
Als wär’s ihm viel zu schwer.Ich tät mich zu ihm setzen,
Ich sah ihm ins Gesicht,
Das schien mir gar befreundet,
Und dennoch kannt ich’s nicht.Da sah auch mir ins Auge
Der fremde Wandersmann,
Und füllte meinen Becher,
Und sah mich wieder an.Hei, was die Becher klangen,
Wie brannte Hand in Hand:
»Es lebe die Liebste deine,
Herzbruder, im Vaterland!«

Written, like so much else, by Wilhelm Müller (who died of a heart attack at the age of 32).

On YouTube.

The man sleeping in an alcoholic stupor in the in Krug zum grünen Kranze in Halle was Carl von Basedow, Müller’s future brother-in-law and the later discoverer of Morbus Basedow.

Morbus Basedow was discovered independently and 5 years earlier in England by Robert James Graves. We call it Graves’ disease (with or without the apostrophe).

Marty Feldman had Graves disease, as could be seen. So did Heino (hence the dark glasses) and many others. You can even her Heino singing it – did he know about the connection?

I won’t go into the history of Burschenschaft and Studentenverbindung.  English and German Wikipedia.

Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis won by Sharon Dodua Atoo

The bizarre Ingeborg Bachmann prize for literature has been won by Sharon Dodua Atoo, a black Germanist, mother and activist who has lived in Berlin for 24 years – see Philip Oltermann article in the Guardian. A couple of years ago the texts of the candidates were translated into English, but not this time. The reading, discussion and text, and a video about the author, can be found on the Klagenfurt prize website. She normally writes in English.
Here is more from Sharon Dodua Atoo’s website.


A hashtag invented by Sean Jones QC of 11 Kings Bench Walk is doing the rounds, according to Legal Cheek. Lawyers try their hand at law-themed poetry, with hilarious results – from the comments there:

The general idea is to take the beginning of a famous poem and then add the bathos of legal vocabulary.

Sean Jones

I was much further out than you thought.
And not waiving but accepting the repudiation.


My instructing solicitors
Have not provided me with
Those papers,
Your Honour. I cannot…
Here they are

But some rhyme:

Keith Rooney

The barrister bemoaned his witness as a silent interlocutor, the judge opined he could just rely on res ipsa locquitur #barristerpoetry
12:00 PM – 18 May 2016

KCL German play

King’s College German Play, Der Besuch der alten Dame (The Visit), had its first night on 7 March and there is another performance on 11 March. I saw it with another former King’s student. Everything has changed since the late sixties. The students are a mix of nationalities and subjects – European Studies, European Politics, War Studies, Comparative literature. It was an excellent production with great pace. It really was over in 2 hours so they must have cut quite a bit; the play is rather wordy. Some of the students speak very fluent German.

There are English surtitles – actually a block of text from a translated version of the play. Obviously it had to be cut to the right length, but was it a published version or done by the students themselves? I saw this with Nathan der Weise in Berlin, where they had a rather aged English translation.

The play was on in a place called Tutu’s on the 4th floor of the Macadam Building in Surrey Street. It was dreadfully cold there! The performance used projected images and sound effects – for instance the trains passing through at the beginning – and few props (I missed the coffin, but it wouldn’t have worked here). Desmond Tutu is an alumnus and a rather weird sculpture of his head is above the door:


We went in memory of the plays we remembered from our own time as students, shockingly 50 years ago. I remember Biedermann und die Brandstifter in 1966 and Minna von Barnhelm in 1967. The current offering is an old chestnut too. But it’s still being performed in the real world and you can see video clips from Bochum, Zurich, and Berlin online (probably there are more out there too).

The KCL version is on a bare stage – here are some photos I stole from the KCL German Society Twitter feed:



The courts and language, and Harry Potter

The Trademark and Copyright Law Blog has – or had a few weeks ago – a post on all the court cases relating to Harry Potter – Harry Potter Lawsuits and Where to Find Them, for example:

Smith v. Rowling. In 2010, Elijah Smith brought a pro se claim against Rowling in the Eastern District of California. The allegation was simple: “I’m the author who write Harry Potter. . .” As to the relief sought, Mr. Smith stated:

Mrs. J.K. Rowling will make a great teacher . . . I’ll be gladly to help Mrs. J.K. Rowling after she pay me $18 billion.

Mr. Smith’s complaint was dismissed shortly after it was brought, and his request to proceed in forma pauperis was denied. Mr. Smith, who at the time the complaint was filed resided in a California state prison, has brought similar claims against Michael Jackson, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dog and Sam Cooke.

(via Law and Magic Blog)

And Mark Liberman at Language Log links to an article on a court being invited to consider corpus linguistics in deciding the meaning of a term (to discharge a weapon), although perhaps the right judge did not win the argument: “Linguists have a name for this kind of analysis” . The linked article is by Gordon Smith in the Conglomerate: Corpus Linguistics in the Courts (Again).

People in East London: Dora Diamant et al.


Dora Diamant (originally Polish, name Dymant) lived with Franz Kafka in the last six months of his life, when he was dying of tuberculosis. It is said of her that he died in her arms and she burnt (some of) his work. She met him in July 1923 and he died in June 1924. She later married Lutz Lask and had a daughter. After 1939 she was interned as an enemy alien and later ran a restaurant and theatre in Brick Lane. She died in East London at the age of 54. She is buried in the East Ham (Marlow Road) Jewish Cemetery, originally in an unmarked grave. Kathi Diamant, no relation, became interested in her and wrote a book summarizing her research, Kafka’s Last Love. The Mystery of Dora Diamant, 2003.

Other famous graves: Ted Kid Lewis:


and a Jack the Ripper suspect:


More information from the cemetery staff, who sometimes sit on these chairs but don’t want their picture taken:


Before decimal currency – Dickens translation/Probleme vor der Dezimalwährung

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, chapter 12, Mr Micawber:

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

Fürther Nachrichten, and possibly the German translation of Dickens – this comment on the financial crisis puzzled me in the daily paper:

Jährliches Einkommen zwanzig Pfund, jährliche Ausgaben neunzehn Pfund und sechs Schillinge, Resultat Glück. Jährliches Einkommen zwanzig Pfund, jährliche Ausgaben zwanzig Pfund und sechs Schillinge, Resultat Elend.

No, Projekt Gutenberg has a better translation – presumably done before 1971 – the foreword is dated March 1909:

Jährliches Einkommen 20 Pfund. Jährliche Ausgabe 19 Pfund 19 Schilling 6 Pence. Fazit: Wohlstand. Jährliches Einkommen 20 Pfund. Jährliche Ausgabe 20 Pfund und 6 Pence. Fazit: Dürftigkeit.