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Translation problems/Übersetzungsprobleme


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The BBC reports that a sign saying ‘No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only’ reads in Welsh ‘I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated’.

(Thanks to u-forum – must have slipped past AvO)

The Illicit Cultural Property Blog reported recently that pre-Columbian objects of Costa Rica’s national heritage valued at more than 100 million dollars are not being retrieved for lack of funds for a Spanish-German translation.

(Spotted by Trevor)


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IEL 3: The United Kingdom/Vereinigtes Königreich


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Introduction to English law for translators and/or non-lawyers

Following the list of geographical and political terms around the islands, I now turn to the legal systems in the United Kingdom.

The first point is that there are three legal systems in the UK: in England and Wales; in Scotland; and in Northern Ireland.

We don’t usually talk about UK law or British law.

To compare:

Germany is a unitary state with federal law. There is some law that varies from Land to Land, but most law is federal. It’s German law.

The USA has fifty states and a federal district – these are separate jurisdictions. Thus you get the law of New York, the law of California, the law of Texas and so on. It also has federal law, not a huge amount but some: U.S. law.

But the UK has no federal law, although it has a central parliament in Westminster, and a central government and monarch (there has been some devolution in recent years to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, and Northern Ireland has an Assembly too and has intermittently had some self-government since it came into existence).

This is put succinctly by the New Oxford Companion to Law:

The United Kingdom is an unusual state in that it is comprised of three separate legal systems … This reflects the history of relationships amongst these entities. When the United Kingdom came into being in 1801, it was not a traditional unitary state. While a head of state, government, and Parliament were all shared, when the new United Kingdom Parliament legislated for this new state it was not making United Kingdom or British law, but rather making common provisions which would apply in all of the three legal systems. This continues under the devolution arrangements which have been in place since 1999. There is no separate system of federal law in respect of those powers which have not been devolved from the Westminster Parliament to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Terms: Jurisdiction: One could say: there are three legal systems, or three jurisdictions. One meaning of jurisdiction is an area with its own legal system. Thus the term ‘English law’ is short for ‘English and Welsh law’ and refers to the legal system in the jurisdiction of England and Wales. This term has no simple equivalent in German. Jurisdiction can also mean the area of a court’s jurisdiction (Gerichtsbezirk, Zuständigkeit).

The best translation into German of ‘in various/several/other jurisdictions’ is often ‘in … Ländern’.

One sometimes encounters the German term Jurisdiktion translated as Rechtsprechung or die rechtsprechende Gewalt. Here we are getting into deeper waters. Problems my students had here may have resulted from the fact that they weren’t really familiar with the terms in German, so the English equivalent didn’t register either. Die rechtsprechende Gewalt, one of the three branches of power, is the judiciary (Richterschaft).

The three branches of power: the executive, the legislature, the judiciary (Exekutive, Legislative, Judikative).

But Rechtsprechung is more commonly used to mean case law.

Of course, the literal translation from the Latin of Jurisdiktion is Rechtsprechung, but that doesn’t help.

English law: (now) the law of England and Wales

There are separate legal systems in the Isle of Man and the Channel Isles, but these are not part of the UK.

English law today means the legal system of England and Wales, with its system of courts and lawyers. Historically, England was the country where the common law first developed. It spread from England to Wales and to the whole of the island of Ireland, but it did not spread to Scotland. Scots law is a hybrid system, a mixture of civil law (kontinentaleuropäisch) and common law. Thus the legal system in the independent country Ireland is closer to that of England than the legal system in Scotland, a part of the UK.


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Alliance for German law/Bündnis für das deutsche Recht 2


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beck-blog reports that the document of which JUVE apparently had a sneak preview has now appeared (see earlier entry).

Bündnis für das deutsche Recht PDF file
Bundesjustizministerium press release

beck-blog points out some of the reasons why German law is not always popular abroad.

Auf glattes Unverständnis trifft insbesondere das AGB-Recht, denn hier können die meisten nicht nachvollziehen, warum Grundsätze, die aus dem Verbraucherschutz kommen, auch zwischen Unternehmen gelten sollen. Zum ”schlechten Image” des deutschen Rechts trägt maßgeblich auch das deutsche Arbeitsrecht bei, das von vielen ausländischen Unternehmen als zu einseitig arbeitnehmerschützend wahrgenommen wird.


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Humanist weddings in Scotland/Humanistische Hochzeiten in Schottland


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In Germany one gets married at a register office, and a church wedding is an extra.
In the UK, one gets married at a register office, or in a church, or in various other places – the paperwork can be done at any.

But the law varies between the three jurisdictions: England and Wales; Scotland; Northern Ireland. Scotland has traditionally offered a wide range. I did not realize that it is the only UK jurisdiction, and one of only six in the world, where a humanist wedding is legal.

Thus reports Fiona at Divorce Survivor.

See also Your big Day! – tips for planning your humanist wedding in Scotland.

I don’t believe the kilt is obligatory.


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Charlie and his Orchestra: German submarines


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Although swing music was banned in Nazi Germany, Goebbels had a band called Charlie and His Orchestra that played nazified versions of the jazz hits of the day for foreign consumption.

YouTube

MP3s

‘Churchill’s latest song’ to the tune of ‘I’m the sheikh of Araby’:

I’m afraid of Germany
Her planes are beating me
At night when I should sleep
Into the Anderson I must creep
Although I’m England’s leading man
I’m led to the cellar by ten
The leader’s in the cellars each night
That’s the only damn way I can fight.

Thanks to Trevor.


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Alliance for German law/Bündnis für das deutsche Recht


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According to JUVE, the Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer, Deutscher Anwaltverein (German equivalents of the Law Society of England and Wales), Bundesnotarkammer, Deutscher Richterbund and Bundesjustizministerium are cooking up an alliance to promote German law internationally:

In der kommenden Woche will die BRAK nun ein Positionspapier vorlegen, das gemeinsam mit anderen juristischen Berufsorganisationen – darunter der Deutsche Anwaltverein, die Bundesnotarkammer und der Deutsche Richterbund -, sowie dem Bundesjustizministerium (BMJ) ausgearbeitet wird. Am kommenden Montag sollen im BMJ letzte Details geklärt werden. An den Gesprächen sind offenbar auch das Bundeswirtschaftsministerium und das Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit beteiligt.

(via Handakte WebLAWg)

There will be a meeting on Monday October 27, and presumably news will filter out thereafter. I found another reference in a speech by Brigitte Zypries, the German Minister of Justice, at Erfurt on 23 September. She speaks of exporting German law to China, Vietnam, the Gulf states, the UAE and central Asia, and that the German government plans to increase the budget for this initiative by 52%:

Sehr geehrter Herr Bundespräsident,
Sie haben dankenswerter Weise darauf hingewiesen, dass es in Zeiten der Globalisierung auch einen Wettbewerb der Rechtsordnungen gibt. Deutschland muss diesen Wettbewerb nicht scheuen, denn unsere Rechtsordnung und seine Akteure genießen weltweit hohes Ansehen. Ich meine aber, Deutschland muss sich in diesem Wettbewerb stärker als bisher engagieren. Unser Engagement in Schwellen- und Transformationsländern muss zum Beispiel stärker darauf ausgerichtet sein, win-win-Situationen zu erzielen. Wir helfen unseren Partnerländern beim Aufbau rechtsstaatlicher Strukturen, denn dies ist eine wichtige Voraussetzung für Frieden, Demokratie und Wohlstand. Aber wir wollen mit unserem Engagement auch die wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit stärken und wir wissen: Rechtsexport fördert auch den Import von Investitionen. Erfolgreicher Rechtsexport nützt auch dem Wirtschaftsstandort Deutschland. Heute gibt es viele deutsche Akteure, die sich bei der rechtlichen Zusammenarbeit engagieren. Um unsere Arbeit noch effektiver und effizienter zu machen, brauchen wir klare Prioritäten, mehr Ressourcen und mehr Koordination. Wir befinden uns derzeit in einem Prozess dieser Koordination. Wir wollen dabei regionale Schwerpunkte bilden. Sie sollten in jenen Ländern und Regionen liegen, in denen unser Engagement besonders chancenreich ist, etwa in China und Vietnam, in den Golfstaaten wie den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten oder den Ländern Zentralasiens. Auch diese Arbeit setzt eine gute finanzielle Ausstattung voraus. Die Deutsche Stiftung für Internationale Rechtliche Zusammenarbeit bekommt deshalb im nächsten Jahr deutlich mehr Geld als bisher. Der Haushaltsentwurf der Bundesregierung sieht eine Steigerung von 52 Prozent vor. Neben mehr Geld brauchen wir aber auch mehr Kooperation. Seit dem Frühjahr führen wir darüber einen intensiven Dialog. In vier Wochen treffen wir uns im Justizministerium wieder mit vielen Akteuren und mit den Organisationen der Richter, Anwälte und Notare wollen wir dann das schmieden, was unser internationales Engagement nach meiner Einschätzung dringend braucht: Ein breites Bündnis für das deutsche Recht.

Actually, Germany has done quite well exporting its law so far. But JUVE, which has a document in its possession by Axel Filges, a partner in Taylor Wessing and the head of the Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer, to the effect that this is a reaction to a brochure produced by the Law Society in October 2007 praising the advantages of ‘angelsächsisches Recht’ (the common law, I presume).

I have searched for this brochure and I think it is most likely to be one about the advantages of using the English courts for international disputes. It’s entitled England and Wales: the jurisdiction of choice and can be downloaded as a PDF file here.

JUVE also reports that there are plans to translate more German law into other languages – ‘at least into English’ (but this has been done for years, at least behind the scenes).

In dem Papier rufen die Beteiligten zu einem “Bündnis für das deutsche Recht” auf. Ihnen schwebt unter anderem vor, Partnerländer beim Aufbau von deren Rechtsordnung das “bewährte deutsche Recht” zu empfehlen sowie deutsche Rechtstexte vermehrt in andere Sprachen – zumindest in Englisch – zu übersetzen, “um im internationalen Wettbewerb der Rechtssysteme überhaupt agieren zu können”.


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Court of Session case/Deutsches Recht in Schottland


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The Court of Session (Outer House, which deals with cases at first instance) has recently published a decision in a matter between two German parties. The defender, who is domiciled in Scotland, asserted that only the German courts have jurisdiction over the case, but evidence from German law was produced to indicate that the parties could only have agreed this if they had both been Vollkaufleute.

There are one or two typos in the German, but the case is a good illustration of how courts call in expert witnesses and obtain translations in order to consider foreign law.

Thanks to Jonathan Mitchell.


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Liechtenstein


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Strange Maps shows the enclaves and exclaves of Liechtenstein today.

The post is by Rechtsanwalt Dr. Tobias Rudolph of Nuremberg.


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IEL 2: The British Isles, or Great Britain and Ireland/Großbritannien


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Introduction to English law for translators and/or non-lawyers

This Euler diagram of British Isles terminology (Wikipedia, GNU Free Documentation Licence) seems a good place to start. By ‘start’, I mean get a few terms straight before plunging into how the common law came into existence on the islands.

On the diagram, red means ‘geographic’ and blue means ‘political entities (may also be geographic)’.

But note that the Wikipedia article Terminology of the British Isles has many other maps and comments on this terminology.

Now let’s consider some, but not all, of the terms.

Geographical terms

Great Britain: the name of the large island. It comes from the Old French for Brittany. OED Britain: ‘The proper name of the whole island containing England, Wales, and Scotland, with their dependencies; more fully called Great Britain; now also used for the British state or empire as a whole.’

Great Britain also includes a number of offshore islands, although they are not mentioned separately here, for instance the Shetlands, the Orkneys, the Hebrides, Anglesey, the Isle of Wight. It does not include the Channel Isles or the Isle of Man – or does it?

The British Isles: Two comments on this. First, as it’s a geographical term, I have always assumed it did not include the Channel Isles, which are geographically much closer to Europe. Second, it’s a controversial term, especially in Ireland. Some alternatives are mooted here, for instance Great Britain and Ireland (but that apparently omits the Isle of Man from the group).

Political terms

British Islands: This is a fairly uncommon term, but it is defined in the Interpretation Act.

“British Islands” means the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. [1889]

United Kingdom: the full political name is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. As the diagram shows, it doesn’t include the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. These are Crown dependencies, so they are politically associated with the UK.

Republic of Ireland: This term is widely used, especially in Britain. But the name of the country is Ireland (or in Irish Éire). That’s what it’s called in the EU, too.


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IEL 1: Law of England and Wales: introduction for translators/Englisches Recht für Übersetzer


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Introduction to English law for translators and/or non-lawyers

About this introduction

I’ve been considering revising some notes I used to use with students, originally entitled Introduction to English Law (should it be the Law of England and Wales, or Law in English?).

The original idea was that one booklet should briefly cover many areas of law. Then, if a written or at-sight translation text dealt with a topic that had not yet been taught, all the students could be referred to the relevant pages.

This was at the Institut für Fremdsprachen in Erlangen. At the SDI in Munich, I think the text used was Law Made Simple, by Colin Padfield (now by Barker and Padfield; ISBN of the 2007 edition is 978-0750684941).

But things have changed since 1994 (I was teaching till 2002, with more up-to-date handouts not integrated into the script). Indeed, the syllabus in Bavaria has changed and sounds much more useful for translators.

In the UK, Wales and Scotland now have their own parliaments. Some of the courts have changed their names. There is a Ministry of Justice.

The notes are intended for translators, and there is a place for both PC and non-PC terms. Thus The British Isles is a controversial term in some quarters, especially Ireland, but at the same time it’s used as a geographical term for all the islands without any intention to insult.

The whole complex of geographical and political terms is a tin of worms, to coin a phrase. I’ll introduce it in a separate entry. No comments on those terms under this entry.


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