On August 10, I posted an entry stating that I was suspicious about an article in the Times about EC translators. Today I read on the ITI website – members’ forum – that a member of the ITI Council had spoken to the DG in question and it appeared that either the Times reporter did not understand the discussion or the DG was misquoted. The DG decided not to issue a correction to the article because they did not think it was necessary.

I added a note to the entry, which I sometimes do, but I thought it was worth posting here too.

Unauthorized use of titles/Ermittlungen gegen Gebrauch eines US-Doktortitels

There’s been some excitement in the press about criminal investigation proceedings against some highly qualified Americans at the Max Planck Institute in Jena and elsewhere. They had the temerity to describe themselves as Dr. and Professor Dr. But in Germany, you can use Dr. as part of your name only if the doctorate is German.

What academic titles one can bear is governed by Land law. When I started teaching at a Bavarian Fachakademie in 1982, I was not allowed to call myself Frau Dr. Marks, although this did not stop my employer doing so. I was not even allowed to write Ph.D. after my name – I would have had to pay a sum of 83 DM, I think it was, to be allowed to do so. I may have broken this rule, because I certainly didn’t pay the money. I don’t know what the penalties were, but it was a matter of administrative law as far as I was concerned.

In recent years, the situation has been relaxed for EU citizens. I suppose Germany was forced to grant reciprocity. I was still told I might call myself Frau Dr. (London) Marks. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

The Kultusministerium used to write to a British fellow-examiner, who was employed at the FIM Fachakademie in Munich, as Herr Dr. X. One day I found out while chatting to him on the phone that his Ph.D. was from Oxford! This was before the EU relaxation. Shortly afterwards I was able to leverage the forbidden title out of the Kultusministerium after I wrote them a letter (they had curtly told my school principal a few years before that a Kultusministerium cannot call a foreigner Dr.).

Anyway, the hoo-hah now relates to Americans and to section 132a of the German Criminal Code, which imposes a sentence of up to one year’s imprisonment or a fine on those who use German or foreign titles without authorization. § 132a German § 132a English.

The main purpose of this section is apparently to protect the general public against those falsely claiming expertise. Using the title on one’s business card is evidence, but I presume that if the person does not normally act in a manner likely to damage the public, the charges will be dropped.

See article in the Washington Post, Non-European PhDs In Germany Find Use Of ‘Doktor’ Verboten.

Ian Thomas Baldwin, a Cornell-educated researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, has stopped calling himself “Dr.” ever since he was summoned for interrogation by police two months ago on suspicion of “title abuse.”
“Coming from the States, I had assumed that when you get a letter from the criminal police, you’ve either murdered someone or embezzled something or done something serious,” said Baldwin, a molecular ecologist. “It is absurd. It’s totally absurd.”

Der Spiegel has the story in German.

In der Tat hatte sich der Amerikaner auf Visitenkarten, Briefpapier und der Internet-Präsenz seines Instituts als “Prof. Dr. Ian Baldwin” bezeichnet. Das hatte sich Baldwin so angewöhnt, weil ihn seine deutschen Kollegen exakt so angeschrieben hatten. An “Professor Dr. Ian T. Baldwin” etwa war der Brief adressiert, mit dem die Max-Planck-Gesellschaft ihren Neuzugang 1996 herzlich begrüßt hatte, einen von gleich drei Amerikanern, die sie für Jena gewinnen konnte. Auch Einladungen zu Vorträgen an Universitäten ergingen immer an den “Prof. Dr.”.

Der Spiegel says that the problem has probably been caused by a frustrated foreigner who is not allowed to call himself Dr. in Germany and who is taking his revenge by reporting Max Planck Institute scientists who do this to the police, who are then happy to pursue the complaints.

LATER NOTE: there are at present 77 comments on the Washington Post article. There are some wonderfully ignorant and ranting remarks: the term ‘reichsanwalt’ contributed by someone in Munich with a law degree, the suggestion that Germany only became a nation in the 1930s, the view that fascism has reigned in Europe since the Roman Empire and the EU was the first step towards ‘the end’, and ‘The Germans have been causing trouble as far back as the Goths’. Also some good sense on § 132 from Robert Gellately. Great irritation at Germany being the only country in the world to require a licence to play golf. And ‘not all bad, puts Condi Rice down a couple of pegs. Univ. of Denver prob wont even make the 200 school list when they relax the law.’

Via German American Law Journal blog, which points out that the press will have a wonderful anti-German field day with this.

Internet miscellany/ Vermischtes aus dem Internet

1. Try out mobile phones / Handy ausprobieren bei TryPhone (more models to be added). via Lifehacker

2. I know why I’d be worried about a referendum on the EU Treaty in the UK: it’s the British media. The Economist blog, Certain ideas of Europe, does a good job of showing them up, on the basis of a Sun article copied elsewhere, that refers to European judges as ‘unelected’ as if English judges were elected and places the ECJ in Luxembourg.

3. Audio: During the German train strike, rob-log produced a spoof ICE announcement to passengers (in German, but with a very authentic-sounding attempt at a brief English message at the end): …bitten wir kurz um Ihre Aufmerksamkeit…

Pied piper of Hamelin / Rattenfänger in Spanien

The plague of the common vole (Microtus arvalis, Feldmaus) in Spain this year has led to desperate measures such as burning.

Such drastic measures are only permitted by European Union officials in exceptional circumstances and many observers are questioning why the EU has wasted so much time and money in dragging voles through the courts on previous occasions when burning them to death is so much quicker, cheaper and effective.

This precept could be applied to many court cases.

It’s a shame they are not the right food for the vultures that have now emigrated to the Netherlands after carcasses were no longer left out on the hills.

I’m not sure that driving the voles with ultrasound to where they can be burned or drowned is quite the same as the Pied Piper of Hamelin luring them away with music. But perhaps the playing of various instruments in Villotilla is?

According to my book on European mammals, the common vole is breeds faster than any other mammal. One vole lives for 4 – 5 months and can produce 500 descendants in that time. If the population is too dense, they attack each other and may even eat weaker ones. The situation improves when there is mass death, usually at the beginning of the cold weather.

Thanks to Trevor, who is taking the vole plague with equanimity.

EU reform treaty / EU-Reform-Vertrag

EUobserver reports that last Thursday, Giuliano Amato said “They [EU leaders] decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception”.

He said that if the document was unreadable, it would make it easier for the UK prime minister to say there is no need for a referendum.

The speech was recorded by UK based think tank Open Europe. It is also available on YouTube.
“This is an extraordinary admission from someone who has been close to the negotiations on the EU treaty”, said Open Europe director Neil O’Brien.
“The idea of just changing the name of the Constitution and pretending that it is just another complex treaty shows a total contempt for voters.”

But quite a few voters have been worn down by the misinformation constantly appearing in the press. I’d heard that to sell the treaty in the UK, it was necessary for it not to be called a constitution – no matter what was in it.

The organization Open Europe has a weblog. The heading of its report on this matter is ‘Loathsome Smugness’. I am not sure it separates fact and comment, but I suppose that’s the thing about blogs.

EC Asparagus Directive/EG Spargel-Richtlinie

Here it is in German, with links to all other languages.

We don’t talk of translation here – all versions of the EU directives are original legal texts. But this is odd:

in Erwägung nachstehender Gründe:
(1) Spargel ist in Anhang I der Verordnung (EG) Nr. 2200/96 als eines der Erzeugnisse aufgeführt, für die Normen festzulegen sind.

(1) asparagus are among the products listed in Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 2200/96 for which standards must be adopted.

And again later:

The condition of the asparagus must be such as to enable them:

Asparagus is treated as a plural! But what about this?

Asparagus is graded into three classes defined below:

In fact, plural and singular use are mixed. This means that a number of lawyers drafting legislation for the EU are capable of writing a text without being consistent as to whether the main term is singular or plural. Why am I not surprised?

The OED has no illustrations of this, although others seem to want to count.

I see asparagus as a mass noun/uncountable. German has Spargel, but counts as Spargelstangen and Spargelköpfe.

And here’s some of the important bit:

Die Spargelstangen werden nach ihrer Färbung in vier Gruppen eingeteilt:
1. weißer Spargel;
2. violetter Spargel: der Spargelkopf muß eine rosa bis violettpurpurne und ein Teil der Spargelstange muß eine weiße Färbung aufweisen;
3. violett-grüner Spargel: Spargel mit teilweise violetter und grüner Färbung;
4. Grünspargel: der Spargelkopf und der größte Teil der Spargelstange müssen eine grüne Färbung aufweisen.
Diese Norm gilt nicht für Grünspargel und violett-grünen Spargel mit einem Durchmesser von weniger als 3 mm und für weißen und violetten Spargel mit einem Durchmesser von weniger als 8 mm, der in einheitlichen Bündeln oder Packstücken abgepackt ist.

Asparagus shoots are classified into four groups according to colour:
1. white asparagus;
2. violet asparagus, having tips of a colour between pink and violet or purple and a part of the shoot white;
3. violet/green asparagus, part of which is of violet and green colouring;
4. green asparagus having tips and most of the shoot green.
This standard does not apply to green and violet/green asparagus of less than 3 mm diameter and white and violet asparagus of less than 8 mm diameter, packed in uniform bundles or unit packages.

Accession Treaty

Treaty of Accession 2003 / EU-Erweiterungsvertrag
via Lenz Blog
To be signed on 16th April by the existing 15 member states and the 10 acceding countries, i.e. the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia.

Can be downloaded
but is 5,000 pages long.