There’s a term in German constitutional law, Gesetzesvorbehalt, literally (reservation/requirement of a statute).

On Legally Yours, Rob Lunn discusses the equivalent Spanish concept. How to translate “reserva de ley” into English (using a descriptive strategy).

In my database I find a suggestion to translate the German term as ‘constitutional requirement of the specific enactment of a statute’ (because secondary legislation is not enough).

It is apparently sometimes translated as ‘legal reservation’ or ‘reservation of law’, which doesn’t convey the meaning at all.

The word Vorbehalt is often a problem. If you translate it as ‘reservation’, you are using a word that’s less usual in legal English than Vorbehalt is in legal German.

I prefer ‘requirement’.

There’s a discussion of the term on LEO (quite useful in parts, but I particularly enjoyed the comment ‘I actually discussed that topic with a common lawyer. He completely ignored that concept’ with its interesting use of ‘ignored’).

I’ve apparently had to translate quite a few words with ‘Vorbehalt’ as part: Änderungsvorbehalt, Beamtenvorbehalt/Funktionsvorbehalt, Eigentumsvorbehalt (reservation/retention of title), Einwilligungsvorbehalt, Erlaubnisvorbehalt, Identitätsvorbehalt, Kontokorrentvorbehalt, Liefervorbehalt, Parlamentsvorbehalt (another term for Gesetzesvorbehalt), Progressionsvorbehalt, and several more.

I can’t quite agree with Rob that this is such a culture-specific term (see Things I learnt from a journo about translating culture-specific terms: (1) Description trumps linguistic solutions), but OK, it is not a concept that applies to UK constitutional law. I would definitely use the definition here, and I might not add the German in brackets.

LATER NOTE: A query on a mailing list relates to Saldohaftungvorbehalt, as in ‘ Eigentumsvorbehalt
Bis zur vollständigen Bezahlungen bleiben alle gelieferten Waren unser Eigentum (Saldohaftungsvorbehalt).’

I would suggest ‘liability for balance’.

The time of day

I was toying with the idea of attending a free webinar by STAR Transit – in fact, I registered. This was the time given, although I didn’t know if they were referring to the time in Germany or the UK:

Dear Participants,

thank you for your interest in the webinar

“You asked, we listened: What’s new in Service Pack 8″

on 18.12.2014 at 16:00 a.m. (GMT +1:00).

We use the webinar software TeamViewer. To watch and listen to the webinar,
you can participate with the speakers of your computer.

To join the webinar, click this link:

Possibly there would be not much new for me, but at all events I was at my desk at 15.30 British time, which would be 16.30 German time, though not a.m. When I clicked the link at 16.00 British time (apparently that is currently GMT) I was informed that the webinar had already ended.

STAR didn’t cast any light on this, but they did say that the webinar has been recorded and will be available soon.

Zur vollsten Zufriedenheit: voll verwirrend für Übersetzer

Beck Blog (Prof. Dr. Markus Stoffels) reports on a recent decision:

Unzufrieden mit „voller Zufriedenheit“? BAG äußert sich zur Leistungsbeurteilung in Zeugnissen

in which the Federal Employment Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht) found it was acceptable for an employee to receive the equivalent of Grade 3 on the six-grade scale because this is the average grade).

Die Note 1 wird mit der Formulierung „stets zur vollsten Zufriedenheit“, die Note 2 mit „stets zur vollen Zufriedenheit“, die Note 3 mit „zur vollen Zufriedenheit“ und die Note 4 mit „zur Zufriedenheit“ zum Ausdruck gebracht.

An employee who wanted a better grade had to show evidence it was deserved.

One sometimes wonders how to translate these terms, where ‘satisfactory’ is quite negative. The non-German recipient ought to be informed of the code used, but I can’t see any other way to translate it except literally (I have actually refused to translate references of this kind in the past).

According to Wikipedia:

Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Bulgaria are the only countries in Europe where employees can legally claim an employment reference, including the right to a correct, unambiguous and benevolent appraisal.

Meanwhile, as English is used more and more widely, the Frankfurter Allgemeine is worried about unfortunate phrases in bad English:

Es gibt Empfehlungen, die mehr schaden als nützen: „He left us with enthusiasm“ oder „You will be lucky to have him to work for you“ gehören zweifellos dazu – besonders wenn sie als gutgemeinte Abschiedsformeln am Ende eines englischen Arbeitszeugnisses stehen.

Here’s the Süddeutsche Zeitung on the same topic (interview with Professor Arnulf Weuster):

Der Bewerber war “attentive to detail”, ein Pedant also. Der Vorgesetzte bescheinigt ihm Flexibilität. Schade nur, dass “flexible” auch “unentschlossen” heißt. Deutsche Arbeitszeugnisse ins Englische zu übersetzen, ist tückisch. Arnulf Weuster, Professor an der Hochschule Offenburg, hat Ratgeber zum Thema verfasst. Trotzdem hält er es letztlich für unmöglich, alle Feinheiten der Zeugnissprache zu übertragen.

And here’s Toytown Germany discussing it.

German lawyers fighting in Munich?

Under the heading Exclusive: Two Linklaters partners resign after office party fight
Roll on Friday reports that two partners at Linklaters in Munich have resigned after a fight at an Oktoberfest party.

I’m not sure if this is right because I can still find Laurenz Schmitt on the Linklaters site, but not thomas Elser.

LATER NOTE: Here’s a German report from November. It looks as if just Thomas Elser left, and Linklaters weren’t saying why.

Happy interpreters video

A video showing happy interpreters at the UN in New York.
Happy Interpreters
from Empanadilla de Atún 1 day ago / via Final Cut Pro Not Yet Rated

To dispel the tower of Babel and other clichés about us we thought that this holiday season we would show you what we really do and what we are really like. Don’t be afraid- no other humans or animals suffered during filming, no extra budgetary resources were required. Not even the need to talk about multilingualism, cost cutting, increased efficiency, doing more for less or any of those buzz words. We have managed to use a universal language and we hope it makes you feel HAPPY.

Apparently this is not the first cover of Pharrell Williams’ video.

Thanks to Elm.

Interpreting Dagenham

In interpreting teenage slang for the jury, what could Mark Paltenghi do? Your honour, this is bare hard to understand: Laughter in court as barrister has to translate defendants’ teenage slang into plain English

A barrister had to translate text messages sent between teenagers into plain English in court after they included slang like ‘bare’ – meaning really- and ‘bait’ – meaning blatant – for the judge.

During the shooting spree in Dagenham, the group are said to have sent text messages to each other, which were read out by the prosecution along with the ‘translations’.

In one message, sent by the youngest defendant who is 16, to a contact called ‘female boss’, he wrote: ‘Hurry up I’ve got bare haters around me now.’

Prosecutor Mark Paltenghi – in his fifties – informed the jury: ‘Next to it in italics you have it re-written.

‘It means: ‘Hurry up, I’ve got a lot of people who don’t particularly like me here.’

Another text read: ‘Hurry up I’ve got a strap on me, this is bare bait’.
Mr Paltenghi told the jury: ‘We believe this means: ‘Hurry up, I’ve got a gun on me, and this is really risky’.’

Defendants Scott Stokes, 20, his brother Jason, 18, Anne-Marie Madden, 25, and 16-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, burst into laughter.

Jurors also giggled when Judge Patricia Lees asked the defence barristers: ‘Do you agree with these translations?’

(First seen in Metro headed I’m a barrister, innit)

LATER NOTE: Just in, the report of a witness speaking Sierra Leone creole (Krio) for an hour before anyone in court realized it was not an acoustics problem.

Witness gave evidence for an hour before anyone in court realised she wasn’t speaking proper English

Forensic linguistics in court

At Language Log, Mark Liberman has a post dated 28.11 and headed Plebgate judgment, in which he reports on his experience as an expert witness, with Peter French appearing for the other side (Mitchell’s).

As is widely known, Andrew Mitchell, the government chief whip, was stopped by police from cycling through a pedestrian entrance in Downing Street and is said to have told the policeman ‘Best you learn your fucking place – you don’t run this fucking government – you’re fucking plebs.’

The language aspect was that there were arguments that the police officer in questio, Toby Rowland, was thought unlikely to invent such an expression, and Mitchell was thought likely to use it.

Mark Liberman had to report on whether the time of the exchange recorded by CCTV cameras was long enough for the words to have been spoken. Both he and Peter French came to the conclusion that the time was long enough. Liberman quotes Archie Bland in The Guardian:

You couldn’t help but be lost in admiration for [Mitting’s] forensic command of the detail: you’d need a memory palace to keep it all straight. And yet it almost all seemed irrelevant. A judgment that took over an hour to read boiled down to the fact that two phonetic experts judged that Mitchell would have had time to say the “toxic phrases”, and that he had told his deputy that he didn’t know what he had said very soon after.

More from the case – full report here – in the Language Log post. Also the commenters get very involved in forms of address in court, starting with whether it was right for Mark to address an English judge as ‘My Lord’.

German Civil Code/BGB-Kommentar kostenlos online verfügbar

Below I post parts of a press release from Karriere-Jura GmbH, which is publishing the German text and a commentary to the German Civil Code free of charge online. There is no need to register.

The whole Code is online, but only some parts have been given commentaries so far – for a list and links see in the German text below.

The publisher is encouraging lawyers to post comments to the sections, which obviously has an advertising effect. For an example, scroll down on the page to § 1371.

This should be very useful for translators. Sometimes a text deals in great detail with a section of the BGB and a commentary is the ideal source of information. But more on commentaries in a future post.

Der Online-Kommentar macht … konsequent von den Möglichkeiten des Internets Gebrauch (Details).

Hinzu tritt ein gravierender Unterschied im Konzept: Da zusätzlich zu den Fachinformationen für Juristen auch eine eigene Rubrik für den Rechtsverkehr veröffentlicht ist, wird mit Kommentar-untypischen Nutzerzahlen von bis zu einer Million Lesern jährlich gerechnet.

Bislang ist noch nicht jede Norm kommentiert. Der Verlag freut sich daher über Anfragen von Autoren, die sich zutrauen, bis zu drei Normen in hoher Qualität zu kommentieren.

Verfügbar sind z.B. bereits Kommentierungen zu folgenden §§: 80 ff. (Stiftungen); 712 ff. (Gesell­schafts­recht); 1004; 1371 ff. (Familien­recht); 611 ff. (Ar­beits­recht), 631 ff. (Werk­vertrags­recht).

Bitte beachten Sie auch das Geleitwort von Prof. Dr. iur. Dr. iur. habil. Gerrick Frhr. v. Hoyningen-Huene, das Sie hier finden: Zum Geleitwort.

Die offizielle Adresse des Kommentars lautet:

Forms of address

If, like me, you are an alumna or alumnus of King’s College London and, unlike me, you wish to attend The Lifeboat Debate: who will save humanity?, you have a choice of titles to enter. In my case, Dr was preselected, but here are more (thanks, Alison!):

Visc Dr Miss Mr Mrs Ms Professor Reverend Admiral Air Care Air Chiefe Marshal Air Cmdr Air Commodore Air Marshal Air Vice-Marshal Alderman Alderman & Sheriff Ambassador Archibishop Archdeacon Assistant Commissioner Baron Baron von Helmfels Baroness Bishop Brigadier Cader #N/A Canon Canon Emeritus Captain CB MBE PhD Chancellor Chief Justice Chief Officer Chief Rabbi Chief Technician Cllr CMG Colonel Comdt Commander Commander (D) Commodore Comtese Councillor Counsellor Count Countess Dame Datin Datin Nik Datin Sri Dato’ Dato’ Sr Datuk Deaconess Dean Detective Constable Dr & Mrs Dr Bishop Dr, Mr Dr. iur. Drs Duchess Duke Earl Elder Emeritus Emeritus Professor En Eur Ing Father Field Marshal Flight Lieutenant Flight Officer Flt Lt Flying Officer FR Frau General Group Captain Her Excellency Her Highness Her Honour Her Honour Judge Herr His Excellency His Highness High Highness Sheikh Sultan His Hon Judge His Honour His Majesty King His Royal Highess The Honourable HRH Prince HRH Princess Judge Justice Lady Lieutenant Lieutenant-Colonel Lieutenant-Commander Lieutenant-General Lord Lord Justice Lord Mayor of London Lt Col Lt Gen Madam Major Major (rtd) Major-General Marchioness Marchioness of Marquis Master Messrs Misses Mme Monsignor Pastor PC Pehin Pengiran Prebendary President Prince Princess Professor & Mrs Puan Sri Rabbi Rear-Admiral Rev Revd Canon Dr Revd Dr Right Reverend Rt Hon Rt Hon Lord Mayor Almerman Rt Revd Sanator Senior Evangelist Sergeant Sheikh Sheikha Sheriff Shri Sir Sister Smt Squadron Leader Staff Sergeant Sultan Surgeon Surgeon Captain Surgeon Commander Tan Sri Tan Sri Dato Tan Sri Datuk Tan Sri Dr The The Baroness The Dowager The Earl The Hon The Hon Mrs The Honourable The Lady The Lord The Lord Bishop The Marquess The Most Honourable The Most Rev The Rev Canon The Rev, Canon The Rev, Dr The Rev, Mr The Revd The Rev’s Canon The Revd Prebdy The Rt Hon The Rt Hon Lord The Rt Revd The Venerable The Very Rev The Viscount Toh Puan Tun Vice Admiral Viscount Viscountess W Bro Warrant Offcer 2 Bandmaster Wing Commander Sqn Ldr The Very Revd Captain Royal Navy

Some are highly dubious – I think they must have been harvested.

Boing Boing has been here before:
Brit Airways’ honorifics kick United’s ass – not at King’s, that is, but at British Airways. Who have not the same list, although they do have Her Majesty. And a German has added material in a comment.

I am particularly fond of The, standing alone.