DE>EN>DE law dictionary/Karin Linhart, Wörterbuch Recht

I summarized a number of small German-English law dictionaries some time ago. Here’s another one, by Karin Linhart: Wörterbuch Recht, Beck Verlag.

Now a review of this dictionary, in German, by Christine Haselwarter, has appeared in the ADÜ Nord Infoblatt, 2/2010, available online as a PDF at

As I’ve said before, I don’t think these small dictionaries are so useful for translators, because there are bigger ones available and there is a limit to the number one wants to consult. But they are an ideal size to be carried in a bag, for instance by law students.

This seems to me – on a cursory inspection – a good and reliable dictionary from US legal English into German. It has a number of Infokästchen – boxes on a grey background with extra information – very popular with students and with the review too. For instance, on contingency fees (only US), punitive damages, zealous lawyer (seems to be a US term), jurisdiction (US only) and many more. There are frequent references to US terms that are not translated into German, but cited and explained. In the DE>EN direction, there are fewer boxes.

There is extra material at the end, for example ten rules on how German lawyers should behave ‘im englisch-sprachigen Ausland’. Here I note that Karin Linhart is familiar with US law and South African law, but I don’t know how far her rules apply to all common-law countries. For example, there is no need to use euphemisms when looking for the loo in the UK – in fact, it might be counter-productive. I have my doubts about South Africa too, but I’ve never been there (‘Fragen Sie niemals nach der “Toilet”!).

So without doing a proper full review, I would just like to say I think this dictionary should be seen in an American context, and I think that’s what very many German law students want in any case.

There is another book by Karin Linhart, Englische Rechtssprache – Ein Studien- und Arbeitsbuch. I really must say I have no idea why the book is so huge – A4 with thick paper. The paper may be because one’s supposed to write the answers on it. The nice thing about this book is that it really is full of exercises, with fairly short introductions. It has suggested solutions in the back. Many books on English for lawyers, at least those written for lawyers, have pages and pages of reading and only short exercises, if any. For those who want the terminology first and learn vocabulary in this way, this is an attractive volume. There are many English-German lists and comments on vocabulary too. The book is based on Karin Linhart’s work with students at Würzburg University. (Incidentally, there is a small section on Office Language, quite useful I think, with terms like paperclip, stapler, ring binder, hole punch – this EN>DE list possibly explains the presence of some of the terms the ADÜ dictionary reviewer found superfluous).

LATER NOTE: Richard Schreiber has an entry on this dictionary at the Übersetzerportal.

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