Famous commenters/Andrew Losowsky zu Türklingel

I started photographing doorbells quite a while ago, but whether before or after Andrew Losowky I don’t know. At all events he did comment on my earlier entry. (I hope I can use the word Türklingel this time without being accused of being anti-Turkish).

The Guardian gives some examples of doorbell photos and texts from Andrew Losowky’s book The Doorbells of Florence.

A doorbell in Florence photographed by me.

Pringles are crisps/Court of Appeal-Entscheidung zu Kartoffelchips

The Court of Appeal, on 20 May 2009, held that Pringles, which are a kind of reconstituted crisp-like substance, are crisps, not cakes or biscuits. This makes them subject to VAT.

Daily Telegraph article (tweeted by matthewbennett)
Decision at Bailii

(4) Regular Pringles are manufactured by mixing the dry ingredients into dough with water and emulsifier, cutting shapes out of a dough sheet, frying it for a few seconds, adding oil and salt, cooling it and then adding flavours. A similar procedure applies to maize (in US parlance, corn) chips like tortillas. Mr Hogg considered that the unique feature of Regular Pringles was that the manufacturing process causes oil to go into the spaces throughout the texture of the product replacing the water content removed during the frying. This gives the “mouth-melt” feel when it is eaten. By contrast with potato crisps most of the fat stays on the surface.

I like ‘in US parlance’. (Also the later reference to ‘the reasonable man’ and Pringles). I’m not sure the last sentence is well constructed. It should be ‘By contrast, in potato crisps most of the fat stays on the surface’.

Food products are generally zero-rated for VAT purposes; see Schedule 8, Group 1 of the VAT Act 1994. However there are some excepted items. Item 5 reads:

“5. Any of the following when packaged for human consumption without further preparation, namely, potato crisps, potato sticks, potato puffs and similar products made from the potato, or from potato flour, or from potato starch, and savoury products obtained by the swelling of cereals or cereal products; and salted or roasted nuts other than nuts in shell.”

This case is reminiscent of earlier cases about peanuts and tomatoes, if I remember right. They are good reading for students who are interested in the language of the law courts and don’t want too complex a situation.

There was a language point, ‘made from’ (no mention of ‘made of’, which would mean about 100% to me):

“Made from”
# In the course of his urbane submissions on the “made from” aspect of Regular Pringles Mr Cordara QC referred to “the potato as a fiscal contaminant”, the “essential characteristics of the paradigm potato crisp”, the absence of “findings of potatoness” and the “quantitative role of the potato.” In contending that Pringles (42% potato, 33% fat) were not “made from” the potato he put forward this proposition:

“If a product has a number of significant ingredients it cannot be said to be ‘made from’ one of them.”

So it is argued that Regular Pringles, which also contain fat and flour, cannot be said to be “made from the potato.”

‘Urbane’ is one of those typical tongue-in-cheek references to the court’s and lawyers’ enjoyment in phrasing the case.


It’s OK to be negative about Esther Rantzen, but the comments ought not to do an injustice to the German language:

Please stand for Parliament. Please. I cannot think of a better candidate to beat a worse one. In German, her name means “to talk to others in a patronising manner” as in the phrase “Ich rantze wie dieses herablassende Weibchen Esther Rantzen”.
Lt.-Cnl. Kojak Slaphead III | 05.20.09 – 6:20 am


I was at a loose end on Sunday so I decided to investigate the MemoQ translation memory program (CAT tool). I didn’t get very far, so despite the fact that I attended a Webinar (bizarre word) today at ProZ, the following remarks may not be well-informed. The program looks very good, I must say.

My situation: I’ve been a happy user of STAR Transit since 1998, even though I’m a legal translator, and I’ve often heard other legal translators say TM is no use to them. I like it for terminology (all the terms I’ve recorded are shown highlighted on screen), for quality control (automatic checking of numbers and, if I want, of term consistency), and sometimes for its usual purpose: if I get two almost identical contracts at the same time, it’s much easier to process them this way, because every single deviation of one from the other is shown in colour. I never supply clients with a TM (except for just one project, for which I had to use Trados Workbench but fortunately was able to import it into Transit).

Many buyers of these programs are translation companies or translation managers in companies, who use it to coordinate the work of many translators. At the moment Kilgray, the developers of MemoQ, are obviously trying to build up market share, so there are special offers around and lots of help (they may be just as helpful in future – I’m probably just suspicious, as usual). There was some emphasis on their server version today that wasn’t relevant to me. I didn’t listen very hard either. I think I missed something about using the Server for working from your laptop when you’re away.

Although I intend to stick with Transit, I have long thought it would be a good idea to have a comparison and to know what would happen if STAR stopped selling it – I suppose they won’t, but they don’t always seem to make it as easy to buy and use as one would hope. In addition, their free version, Satellite, is unpopular with translators – in fact, handling Transit projects is one of MemoQ’s selling lines. I never got round to investigating Déjà Vu, but that was very much aimed at freelances. Anyway, you can download a full version of MemoQ and try it out for 45 days, I think.

I was disappointed to read recently that, hardly had I learnt to pronounce MemoQ memmock, stress on first syllable, before attenders of a conference in Budapest persuaded Kilgray to change the pronunciation to memmockcue (stress on first syllable).


1. It seems easy to understand (although it’s easier for those who already know a TM system). The Getting Started Guide is short (about 38 pages, half of them relating to the Server) but there’s more in the help.

2. Projects are stripped of their format (Word, PPT, HTML etc.) and exported back to it at the end.

3. I haven’t yet worked out what to do about spaces. I have spaces showing in Word and Transit. Here, it seems the program inserts a space after each full stop, but if you already have one, you end up with two. There’s probably a way around this.

4. Bold and italic can be seen as such. Other format features (footnotes, for example) appear as tags – numbers in curly brackets – in the source text, and I gather they have to be copied over. Didn’t see this. I’m used to seeing tags in Transit (but Transit has views without tags too).

5. Segmentation was good (so was alignment).
But how do you add segmentation rules? Apparently you use some regex characters – I haven’t tried it.
(When I import a text into Transit, I am asked to identify abbreviations. GmbH I would not mention, because if it has a full stop after it, that’s always the end of a sentence, so it can be segmented, whereas in running text it has no full stop. But Art., Rdnr., ff. and so on could be added to the rules).

6. We were told that you can even export bilingual documents. As far as I can tell, this means you export a document to MS Word in the typical Trados style, which is not interesting. I may have overlooked another possibility.

7. I imported, slightly processed and exported an XML file, to make sure everything worked. I was impressed to see not only the DE and EN columns, but also another window showing the XML text with tags, just as you would see it in an html program. What I didn’t notice until the Webinar was that this text was a real-time preview – it changed into English as I processed it. The window showing the original format of various text types is obviously something you get with other programs now, but the real-time preview probably not (although I must say, just seeing the German XML in its original format is the most important thing for me).

8. I was most interested in the subsegmentation search in the concordance. I didn’t create a big TM, so I didn’t have a very detailed impression of it, but I saw how phrases can be marked automatically and you can look them up in the concordance if you want. This is something I’d like to do with contracts – scarcely ever are whole segments identical, but phrases often are. It’s been pointed out to me that I can do something similar if I reduce the percentage by which the fuzzy index has to match the new text down to 20% or 10%. I will try that out. Transit NXT also apparently can be set to automatically search through the concordance in this way if no fuzzy-match sentences appear.

9. MemoQ has not only subsegment search, but also fragment search. I did not understand that till the Webinar: it means that a complete segment, such as the heading ‘Gründe’ (‘Grounds’) – however many words in length – is treated rather like terminology and a translation is offered when it crops up as part of a later sentence.

10. One of the nice things about Transit is that instead of keeping one or more TMs, you keep sets of files. A pair of files ending in DEU and ENG are available to be used in the same way as a memory. This means that I might have a folder labelled Contracts, full of pairs of files, and another folder labelled Websites, and so on, but I can mix and match the folders and use as many or as few as I want. With MemoQ, you can have as many TMs as you like (and as many term bases) as far as I can see, but when you create a project you have to decide which TM it is to feed into, whereas in Transit you don’t need to make a decision. I also think a TM can take up more room on the drive, but I’m not sure about that.

11. I am used to the appearance of Transit. But I’m sure I could get used to MemoQ. One thing I find odd is that in Transit, parts of a segment that don’t match the fuzzy match (TM example) are coloured, whereas in MemoQ, it’s the matching subsegments and fragments that are coloured. I am used to seeing the new marked, but then I don’t know how Transit NXT handles that (I plan to try it out shortly) – obviously it must have some way of marking concordance subsegment matches too, and that needs to fit in without conflicting with its other uses of colour/highlighting.
Here’s an example from the Webinar:
Old sentence: Mit Bildschirm-Regler MBI und Beleuchtungs-something or other
New sentence: Mit Bildschirm-Regler MBI, ohne Beleuchtungs-something or other

I would expect the new word ohne to be emphasized, whereas MemoQ emphasizes the compound nouns, I seem to remember.

12. When numbers in source and target segments don’t match, a red exclamation mark appears in a small column to the right. In Transit, checking numbers is a separate operation at the end. I quite like the immediate indication. Numbers often don’t match, for instance where German tends to use figures over 20 or over 12, and English tends to use words up to ninety-nine.

13. Obviously there are lots of general settings, which I haven’t tried out yet. I found that every time I started a project, I had to select the source and target languages from a scroll-down list. There is probably a way to avoid that if you always use the same language pair.

14. (Added later) The terminology module in Transit – Termstar – is more complex than the MemoQ one. As far as I can tell, the latter permits a number of equivalents and has separate tabe for usage, grammar and definition. But I haven’t really inspected it yet. I presume I could easily import CSV-delimited files with EN and DE terms and could place all my miscellaneous notes in the Definition field – I sometimes save discussions about the translation of legal terms, which can be tricky.

15. It was a good idea to have a webinar. A big problem with these programs is that they tend to be very complex and if you attend a seminar, you may find the trainer doesn’t know much about translation but is more interested in software development. So the more opportunities to hear a different speaker, the better.

I think that’s all I have to say for the time being. I need to try out Transit NXT, which involves a lot of learning, I’m sure, and see if different fuzzy index match percentages help me use my old contract translations.

LATER NOTE: ProZ Webinar for MemoQ here (not live, of course).

E-LEARNING (free) for Transit NXT here – I’ll probably write up Transit NXT eventually, as I’m about to try it out.

Privy Council

I haven’t got far with my introduction to English law, but looking ahead, when (if) I get round to the courts, one court of interest is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It’s easy to start looking at this one in isolation. Frances Gibb has an article in the Times headed Does anyone understand what the Privy Council does? which is a good starting point.

Of course, I don’t understand what the Privy Council does, and never have done. What I know a bit about is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Privy Council is one thing, its court another. The same goes for the House of Lords – a chamber of parliament, but containing within it a court, the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords. It gets confusing when the long name of the court is abbreviated.

So, the Privy Council is a bunch of people whose predecessors once advised the monarch in what I tend to call the Middle Ages. In German it could be called Kronrat. I should think in those days it was clearer who was a member, but nowadays it’s a mystery not just to me. It isn’t a full-time occupation in itself. I liked the quote referring to it only occasionally emerging from the ‘constitutional fog’.

Before I get down to the Judicial Committee, I recommend further reading on what the Privy Council is for those who like obscure knowledge.

Who are Privy Counsellors? Currently there are more than 540, mostly senior politicians who were once MPs. As with a gentlemen’s club or secret society, members swear allegiance to the Queen and to “assist and defend…against all Foreign Princes”.

One thing I don’t think the article mentions is that members of the Privy Council can be recognised by their title – some of them call themselves ‘Right Honorable’, unless they have a superior title. (Note the spelling of Privy Counsellor – I admit that was new to me).

Turning to the court, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is a relic of the British Empire. It used to be the highest court of appeal for all colonies. It still acts as a court of appeal for the (few) remaining colonies), and some Commonwealth countries have chosen to retain it as their final court of appeal.

(T’he Commonwealth is a voluntary association of independent states that used to be colonies).

Its members are the same judges, appointed lords, who constitute the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords, plus occasionally one or two judges from whatever jurisdiction the case is about.

It acts as the final court of appeal for many former colonies and UK overseas territories, mainly in the Caribbean but also including appeals from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, Admiralty appeals from the Cinque Ports, and disciplinary appeals involving doctors and dentists as well as some appeals from ecclesiastical courts.

Since 1998 it has also had power to rule on constitutional appeals arising over devolved powers to Scotland and Wales.

In recent years its overseas jurisdiction has reduced as successive countries have cut off the Privy Council as a court of final appeal: Canada, India, Sri Lanka, African nations, Singapore and, most recently, Hong Kong and New Zealand have all withdrawn.

In all it handles about 55 to 65 Commonwealth and devolution appeals a year, appeals nominally to the Queen as head of state. The judges, notes Mr O’Connor, do not make decisions like other courts; they “humbly advise Her Majesty” whether to grant a petition to the appellant. But the Queen can also refer to it any matter that she wants to. In effect, he says, it is “an embryonic, but unused, constitutional court”.

It’s curious that the court can find itself making decisions on the death penalty, which is not part of English law, or on written constitutions, which the UK does not have.