Memory training/Gedächtnistraining

Clemens Mayer, 19, about to start as a law student, has won the Deutsche Gedächtnismeisterschaft (German memory championships).

In 30 minutes he learnt 1040 numbers. He associates each number between 0 and 99 with a symbol – a cow, a mouse, a pen.

bq. Der angehende Jura-Student Clemens Mayer, 19, aus Brannenburg hat die Deutsche Gedächtnismeisterschaft gewonnen. Damit löste er Gunter Karsten ab, der diesen Titel sieben Mal in Folge gewann.

He also managed to associate 85 names with faces. He trains for this every day by cutting out hundreds of faces from Quelle or Otto catalogues, under each of which his mother writes a fictitious name.

I suppose it’s good mental training for both of them. I just have this picture of them sitting there with the catalogues and the scissors.

(Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Roy Stuart / Tod eines Juradozenten

Roy Stuart was Law Fellow at Hertford College, Oxford, from 1969 until his retirement in 2003 and died in June 2005 aged 68. There is a column by David Pannick in the Times Online law section (registration free) – I haven’t found an obituary.

In one of the untidiest rooms in England, Roy would lead his tutorial pupils towards an understanding of the principles of criminal law, contract and jurisprudence with a mixture of wit, empathy and intellectual rigour, stirred with a measure of cynicism.

When he made an interesting point, or more rarely when one of his pupils made what he considered to be a valuable contribution, he would bounce up and down with excitement. And who could forget his tutorial on the legal problems posed by R v Bourne (the defendant who forced his wife to have sex with their dog), complete with “Get down, Rover!” actions? Roy Stuart told us that he argued only one case as an advocate in Canada and was frustrated that the judge did not understand the point he was making. So he decided that the academic life was more appropriate for him.

Chartered linguists

Céline reports that the Institute of Linguists got its charter.

bq. The Institute intends formally to commence operating as the Chartered Institute of Linguists from 1st September 2005, falling in line with the start of its financial year. The petition also empowers the new Chartered Institute to confer the status of “Chartered Linguist” upon suitably qualified linguists across the profession. In this regard consultation with professional colleagues in other relevant membership bodies will continue, with a view to offering the distinguished designation in the near future.

The IoL does represent not only translators and interpreters, but also language teachers. I’m suspicious of qualifications for translation and attempts to regulate the profession. I wonder what a chartered linguist is?

bq. Mr. Henry Pavlovich, Chief Executive of the Institute of Linguists, said: “This is a major step forward for the public and people working with or through languages. The award of a Royal Charter is a mark of approbation for the profession. We hope that linguists everywhere will wish to consider individual chartered status in their own right whether or not they become members of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.”

So it could be open to members of the ITI too, perhaps only people living in the UK.

What shall I read next?

What Should I Read Next? is a website where you can enter the titles of your favourite books (you get help) and then you get a suggestion of something else you might like to read.

I tried a reverse approach and entered the titles of four books I don’t like (The White Hotel, Life of Pi, Norwegian Wood and Ulysses) and it came up with:

Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses
Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
Armistead Maupin, 28 Barbary Lane – A Tales of the City Omnibus
Douglas Coupland, Microserfs
Douglas Coupland, Girlfriend in a Coma

This is worrying. I would have put Microserfs and Maupin on my favourites list, and I suspect Amy Tan is OK. I doubt I would like Ray Bradbury – that’s science fiction, isn’t it?

I then tried it again with some favourite books (you can have it store your list with your email address, but I didn’t do that): The Blue Flower, Tales of the City, The Remains of the Day, Kitchen, American Psycho, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Adult edition! – but the text is identical to the children’s edition, after all).

I was excited to see if I got more good suggestions than before, but at first there was a bug in the script (it’s in beta). I kept trying and got:

Douglas Coupland, Hey Nostradamus!
Arundati Roy, The God of Small Things
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Mikael Niemi, Popular Music
Ian McEwan, Enduring Love

Of course, it’s hard to judge the ones I don’t know, so maybe this is good. I can’t say The God of Small Things is my favourite Indian novel (I preferred A Suitable Boy), and the last McEwan I read was a disappointment – possibly over my head, although that one set in Venice was good.

(Via Random Acts of Reality)

Länder names / Ländernamen

Some clients would like me to use the English ‘official designations’ of the German Länder recommended by the Auswärtiges Amt:


(Land) Baden-Württemberg
(Free State of) Bavaria
(Land) Berlin
(Land) Brandenburg
(Free Hanseatic City of) Bremen
(Free and Hanseatic City of) Hamburg
(Land) Hesse
(Land) Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
(Land) Lower Saxony
(Land) North-Rhine/Westphalia
(Land) Rhineland-Palatinate
(Free State of) Saxony
(Land) Saxony-Anhalt
(Land) Schleswig-Holstein
(Free State of) Thuringia

Does anyone see my problem?

Spelling problems for Cornish resuscitation / Cornishsprecher unentschlossen

Maybe I’m just a fuddy-duddy, but I thought Cornish was dead. How can money be put into keeping it alive? But it seems I was ill-informed – see the Wikipedia link at the bottom.

bq. The government money is on the table and the political will in Whitehall and Europe is apparently growing to help Cornish speakers turn their native tongue into a viable, living language.
But there is one stumbling block: Cornish speakers cannot agree on how their language should be spelt.

Apparently there are three kinds of Cornish, and no progress is likely to be made until one of them is chosen to support.

bq. A conference is being organised in September at which the warring factions will again try to agree on how Cornish – or, depending on your fancy, Kernewek, Kernowek, Kernuak or Curnoack – should be spelt.

(from the Guardian)

The Ethnologue


Swearing a translator in

Some unfinished thoughts I ought to record somewhere:

Germany has sworn translators (as I call them – beeidigt, vereidigt – the terminology varies because the law is that of the Länder, not the federal government), but Britain doesn’t.

I sometimes read in a German translator’s English cv ‘In 19xx I was sworn in as a translator for the courts in North-Rhine-Westphalia’ or something like that. I would prefer ‘I was sworn as a translator’ or ‘I am a sworn translator’.

Is swear better than swear in?

Collins English Dictionary (my preferred one-volume one): swear in tr: to administer an oath to (a person) on his assuming office, entering the witness box to give evidence, etc.
Collins does not give this meaning for swear, only for swear in.

Garner’s Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage: swear is also sometimes used as a shorthand form for swear in – e.g. ‘Swear the witness.’

Oxford English Dictionary: swear 11 a To admit to an office or function by administering a formal oath.
(earliest usage 1049, whereas the first usage of swear in is in Evelyn’s diary in 1700)

It seems swear is OK then.

Another thing I am wondering is why, if swear in can refer to an office, I think it’s better to talk of swearing in a witness for one trial than swearing in a translator for an unlimited number of future occasions.

Beaming us up

Isabella links to a report on a service that will beam weblog feeds into deep space:

bq. “We are giving bloggers the opportunity to send a piece of their lives into space to potentially connect with extraterrestrials,” said Ted Murphy, president and CEO of the Florida-based firm MindComet.

bq. The free service,, will beam web feeds of blogs into deep space via a powerful satellite broadcast, Agence France-Presse reports.

Actually, I think quite a number of translation bloggers have been beaming their stuff into deep space recently. It certainly hasn’t reached me in Fürth.

Isabella also links to a Daily Telegraph piece by a novelist who discovered his Russian translator was imprisoned for attacking an Azerbaijani fruit and veg display with a samurai sword.