1. There has been a long hiatus here, partly because I was away for three weeks and partly because I seem to have been hit by more than one nasty virus. So here are some links to be getting on with:

In die tageszeitung, Katy Derbyshire (as I spell her name) writes (in German) about the lack of English translations of German literature.

Man muss sich das Leben einer der wenigen des Deutschen mächtigen Lektorinnen bei einem dieser Riesenhäuser dagegen als recht frustrierend vorstellen. Wozu sich jeden Tag schick machen und die quälende U-Bahn-Fahrt auf sich nehmen, wenn man doch keine deutschsprachigen Bücher verlegen kann? Anna Kelly arbeitet bei Hamish Hamilton im Hause Penguin. “In den letzten paar Jahren habe ich einige Sachen gelesen, die mich für das begeistert haben, was im Moment auf Deutsch geschrieben wird, die ich aber trotzdem nicht verlegen konnte.” Zum Glück hat Hamish Hamilton längst die Vorzüge des Internets für sich entdeckt und gibt eine Online-Literaturzeitschrift heraus. Am 3. Dezember kommt Anna Kellys Baby: eine Sonderausgabe von Five Dials mit 13 deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsautoren, von Juli Zeh bis Ulrike Almut Sandig. “Das ist ein Weg für mich, einige dieser starken Stimmen mit der Welt zu teilen. Zahlreiche Autoren schreiben gerade wunderbare Sachen auf Deutsch, aber diese Ausgabe kann nicht mehr als eine Handvoll davon zeigen.” Hoffen wir, dass ihre Begeisterung ansteckend wirkt.

2. The People’s Daily was fooled by an article in The Onion which described Kim Jong-Un as ‘the sexiest man alive’, according to the Economist’s Analects blog:

SOMETIMES China flexes its soft power without really having any idea it has done so. That appears to be what happened on November 27th when the People’s Daily Online, a website of the Communist Party’s English-language mouthpiece, republished an article by the Onion, a satirical version of an American newspaper, declaring North Korea’s Kim Jong Un the “Sexiest Man Alive”. The republication, complete with a gallery of 55 photographs of the North Korean dictator at work and play, quickly became an internet sensation.


..“He has that rare ability to somehow be completely adorable and completely macho at the same time,” Onion Style and Entertainment editor Marissa Blake-Zweibel said. “And that’s the quality that makes him the sort of man women want, and men want to be. He’s a real hunk with real intensity who also knows how to cut loose and let his hair down.”

3. At Ü wie Übersetzen, (in German) Lisa John explains in detail how to download and use the new set of translation memories from the EU translation corpus (if I can correctly so describe it).

And there too, if you missed it: Lisa has often tried to improve the German Wikipedia entries on CAT tools for translators and there is a German Wikipedia ‘editor’ who keeps removing descriptions of programs. I’ve seen this extreme example cited in a mailing list as an argument why one should not pay money to support Wikipedia. Here is the latest blog post on this topic .

Delia Venables on legal resources/Delia Venables: UK-Recht im Internet

Delia Venables, who I’ve recommended before, was one of the earliest sources of internet information on law in the UK. Her website on legal resources for the UK and Ireland would take a long time to click around. I usually look at the information for lawyers, in particular newspapers and journals and the best new sites on the legal web.

She has recently made her newsletter for lawyers free to access online, although for the printed or pdf version there is still a subscription. The November/December 2012 issue includes the following topics:

* Nick Holmes provides an essential guide to eBooks – options, formats, devices, readers and digital rights management.
* Peter Garsden of Abney Garsden McDonald reviews the success of going paperless. It took over 7 years but it’s worth it in the end.
* Nigel Miller of Fox Williams provides 10 top tips for securing and managing domain names. Domain names are the basis of ecommerce.
* Barrister Amanda Millmore reviews the use of social media in the legal system – by police, as evidence, and in the community.
* Tom Hiskey describes his move from practice as a solicitor to running a legal technology startup company called “The Law Wizard”
* Sue Bramall of Berners Marketing compares the relative effectiveness of blogs and news sections. Which are best?
* Patti Havers describes the history of the Havers Directory and the new look, and new facilities of “Havers – Defining the Bar”.

There is a great deal of information on the site of interest not only to lawyers.

Signing off on emails/Wie unterschreibe ich eine E-Mail?

Diamond Geezer has a great post on how to start and end an email, with 44 comments at present. It starts Hi Reader and ends Many thanks dg.
I think this shows that there is no easy answer to how to address people in both formal and informal emails.
I hope this post doesn’t come across as prescriptive, because I have great doubts about all forms of address and closing.
In German, the problem is just as great.

First, in letters (British English only):
Dear Sir or Madam … Yours faithfully
Dear Mr. Smith /Dear John … Yours sincerely

In the law firm I worked in, we had this closing for clients:
Kind regards

In formal emails, you might start
And close:
Best regards
Kind regards

Is this right? I rarely write formal emails in English and I have been known to close
Yours sincerely

which may be a no-no in email.

Now the emails to friends, acquaintances and forums.
I usually start:
Some write

To a forum, I often start without a greeting.

To close, I usually write
Some write
Kind regards
Best regards

which seem awfully formal to me.
Then there are
and if one wants an answer
Many thanks
Best wishes

I particularly liked dg’s comments on Take care.

Take care. Whereas this one’s not so good. It may be only eight letters long, but there’s an unspoken hint within that something terrible is about to take place. You might as well end your email with “Watch out!” instead. It’s much too negative for me, and I’d hope for you too.

But I suspect that Take care is more common among Americans.

Now about German. First, formal.
A potential new client might write:
Sehr geehrte Frau Marks … mit freundlichen Grüßen /freundlichen Gruß
Hallo Frau Marks
Guten Tag Frau Marks

This is less formal and might come from the secretary of a client one already knows.
After some time, the client might want to be more friendly:
Liebe Frau Marks
Hallo Frau Marks /Guten Tag Frau Marks

Beste Grüße
Herzliche Grüße
Viele Grüße

Not everyone likes Viele Grüße, but I quite like it, and in any case I follow the client’s lead.
Non-Germans should note that the ß character has not been abolished – Gruß/Grüße and Straße are the most common pitfalls (except in Switzerland, of course).

Now in German to friends, acquaintances and forums.
I do have a difficulty here, because I have found German forums more formal than American and British ones. Maybe that’s because I was on CompuServe much earlier than on German forums and they seemed slower to relax. I have had my knuckles rapped and been thought to be intentionally rude for writing to a forum without a greeting. This was obviously an offence against German netiquette. I don’t know if that is the case any more, but I have an uncomfortable feeling when I write to a German forum.
So some write
Liebes Forum
Liebe Mitglieder

or some variation on the forum’s name.
Otherwise it’s down to
I don’t feel northern enough to use Moin (which is not limited to the morning)
I usually close with
but always feeling it is a bit abrupt.
I have not got used to the increasingly common
Liebe Grüße
which feels overfriendly to me but is possibly becoming standard.
I have just checked my inbox and found one
Schöne Grüße
and one
Mit kollegialen Grüßen
(this reminds me a bit of Mit sozialistischem Gruß in Goodbye Lenin).
It’s also, I remember, fairly common to mention the weather in one’s location:
Mit verregneten Grüßen aus Köln
Mit sonnigen Grüßen aus München

or if one wants a reply to a question
Neugierige Grüße
Is this done in English? I certainly avoid it.

It’s been pointed out by a commenter that MfG is a bit of a no-no, especially in formal correspondence.
That reminds me of some abbreviations widespread in informal contexts. Thnx rather irritated me because it’s scarcely shorter than Thanks.

Lawyers among themselves use Mit kollegialen Grüßen (see comment). I sometimes have to translate this into English, and the equivalent is just Yours sincerely or Best/Kind Regards. There’s a lovely heated discussion on this on the LEO forum.

And I forgot to mention the direct address I often use on forums: just the name of the person addressed, without any ‘Dear’.

MOOC free online course on crowdsourced translation – English/Spanish

I am not really into crowdsourced translation, but it appears that the Open University in the UK is about to run a MOOC, a Massive Open Online Course on Open Translation tools and practices.

There’s more information here, including a video. The pilot runs from 15th October to 7 December 2012 (8 weeks), with the accompanying course website opening on Oct 10th 2012.

The project is aimed at speakers of English or Spanish who are also proficient in Spanish or English (level B2 or above of the CEFR). You might be a language learner, a translation student, or simply looking to develop your translation skills. The project will provide the following opportunities:

Introduce learners to open translation tools and generic translation skills, developing useful employability skills in a global context;
Promote plurilingualism and intercultural communication;
Promote the internationalisation of the student experience;
Introduce learners to real-world translation tasks for volunteer translators in well-established community translation projects (e.g. Wikipedia, TED talks, Global Voices);
Develop translation skills in subject specific domains (maths, education) through translating OpenLearn content (

Becoming a translator with educated proficiency/Geld verdienen als Übersetzer

I am gearing up to start blogging properly again, but meanwhile some reading from a website on running a small business from home. Someone tweeted it this morning, I hope as a joke but perhaps not. The site gives advice on how you can earn money as a ‘verbal translator’ (this seems to mean an interpreter) or a ‘text-based translator’ (apparently a translator). This opportunity is open to you even if you do not have the ideal qualification of having grown up bilingual:

Most organizations who are looking to hire a verbal translator will prefer to find translators that grew up speaking both languages. Fully bilingual, these translators have been speaking both languages since their childhood and this can help bring a fluid mastery that many other translators will not have. These translators will often understand the rhythm and cadence of a particular region which many students of language cannot master.

I have always had the impression that ‘true bilinguals’ are not typically ideal translators, but apparently I was wrong. Looking at my day’s work today, I must admit that fluid mastery is not the first description that occurs to me.

Another important point made, if I interpret it correctly, is that whereas interpreters can just babble away, we translators need to know grammar. That’s good, because I’ve spent quite a few years teaching grammar. The students didn’t seem keen, but I always knew it would be useful some day.

While a verbal translator needs to be able to efficiently handle the ever changing dynamics of a language, text based translators often need to have a better hold on grammatical structure of a language. Both types of translators should certainly be able to both speak and write the language, although text translators should know the specifics behind important grammatical rules of the language. Most written documents will need to have an educated proficiency behind them.

Looking behind me, I haven’t spotted the educated proficiency yet, but I feel sure it must be there.

This is why a number of different tools can all come in handy when you are learning how to become a translator.

Here I am disappointed. I was hoping they would tell me what tools they meant. Do they mean software, or is it hammers and screwdrivers? Still, I am presumably past that point and there seems hope here:

Once you are able to hold a conversation or read a book in two different ways, though, you will know that you are ready to find work as a translator.

(I wonder whether these texts are bought in from Asia?)

Webinar on legal translation/Webinar zu juristischer Übersetzung

eCPD is a company formed this year to provide webinars for translators.

That means an internet seminar for continuous professional development (which the ITI is propagating) that you can follow on your own computer. If you miss the date but have registered, you can hear it online later.

They have a webinar on specializing in legal translation on October 28. The ‘speaker’ (?) is Ricardo Martinez, of the City University of London, who will be giving examples on English and into French and Spanish.

Register here.

This webinar will provide the audience with an overview of the field of legal translation, focusing on the following aspects:
• Why legal translation as a specialisation?
• How to get into the legal translation field
• Disparity between Anglo-American Law / Continental Law
• Types of documents usually translated and some basic vocabulary (examples translated into French and Spanish)
• Main features of legal English
• Some practical problems in legal translation
Practical advice for the budding legal translator.

Speaker: Ricardo Martinez of City University, London
Ricardo has been translating, interpreting and lecturing since 1990, both in the UK and Spain. As an Intérprete Jurado he specialises in the legal and financial fields. He has expanded his areas of expertise throughout the years to other fields such as journalism, TV, tourism, engineering, software localisation and IT. As a lecturer he has taught at the Escuela de Traductores e Intérpretes in Madrid in the 1990s and is currently responsible for the English-Spanish language pair of the Legal Translation MA at City University.
Cost: £15

(This has long since been blogged by Philippa Hammond, but I missed it).


The joys of the internet. Does one reply to an email like this?

Hey Margaret,
We’re just checking in to see if you received your order (Ideal and Actual in The Story of the Stone) from XYZ Books. If your order hasn’t blessed your mailbox just yet, heads are gonna roll in the * warehouse! Seriously though, if you haven’t received your order or are less than 108.8% satisfied, please reply to this message. Let us know what we can do to flabbergast you with service.
Humbly Yours,
Indaba (our super-cool email robot)

I got this book ages ago, much sooner than one would expect, and I thought I left positive feedback somewhere.

flickr and Moo are also incredibly upbeat. flickr (which I scarcely use) tries to appear multilingual by greeting me with bizarre foreign hellos, and Moo is constantly celebrating something. Maybe I need something of what they’re on.

Meanwhile, I am not getting a great deal out of Twitter. My biggest problem is that I skim or read lots of blogs, including translation blogs, by RSS. On Twitter, translators sometimes make it clear they’re linking to their latest post, but most of the time, they give these shorter links – usually to each other’s posts – which give nothing away, and a vague reference, and if I click on them I find something I read, sometimes weeks earlier, or that I would get to later in the day. I’m also not clear about the value of followfriday, when people just cite everyone who links to them – there’s no space to give value – but that’s OK, because I can ignore it. And at least Twitter showed me where I can vote against Tony Blair becoming EU president, although I suspect that may do little more than make me feel better.

International Translator’s Day/Hieronymustag

(St. Jerome by Rubens, via Wikimedia Commons)

Today is St. Jerome’s Day, which has now apparently become International Translator’s Day, and I am celebrating by translating.

Here are a couple of links, though.

1. Ghaddafi About the story of Ghaddafi’s interpreter collapsing: Richard Schneider has a full account, in German, which suggests that the New York Post was inaccurate when it said the interpreter collapsed after 75 minutes and shouted ‘I can’t take it any more’ – it seems he managed 90 minutes, and the UN interpreter only had to take over the last 5 minutes. The speech was intended to be about 15 minutes long. But simultaneous interpreters usually do about 20 minutes, as far as I know. Ghaddafi said he had brought his own interpreter, because he was going to speak an obscure dialect, but in fact he did not speak dialect. The chairmanship/presidency is currently held by Libya, by rotation, and that is why there was no complaint about the procedural irregularity. (How did Ghaddafi’s French interpreter manage?)

Richard Schneider gibes YouTube links to all sections of the speech. Here is the last one, including the takeover of the interpreting by the UN. These videos may not be accessible online for very long.

2. Becoming a medical translator On her blog, Sarah Dillon has an interview with Andrew Bell, who does medical and pharmaceutical translations and also runs the site Watercooler.

3. White House calls for machine translation Thus Global Watchtower reports.

Last week, the Executive Office of the President and National Economic Council issued its “Strategy for American Innovation.” Among the recommendations was a call for “automatic, highly accurate and real-time translation between the major languages of the world — greatly lowering the barriers to international commerce and collaboration.” In other words, machine translation (MT) has captured somebody’s attention in the President’s inner circle.

This tactic would certainly save all the problems associated with human translators – a potential such was recently held for hours, apparently for having Arabic flashcards in his backpack. (TSA defends itself).


Current news from the EU: Presseurop site launched. Translations of news from various national papers, available in ten languages. Some of it has that airless translatorese feel of the Lufthansa in-flight magazine.

Nothing for Ungood is being translated into German and coming out as a book in December. No wonder we haven’t been getting enough to read on the site.

Trier University has links to strange cases from the USA and Germany. Lawhaha: Strange Judicial Opinions Lawhaha auf Deutsch