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Ron Pattinson in Franconia


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It’s been pointed out to me that Ron Pattinson has been down my way, and in fact as a beer lover (who eschews taking notes) he visits Franconia every year. Mind you,
Franconia day six looks a bit like Munich. I wonder if his downloadable little ePub book on Bavaria includes Franconia? I think when it comes to beer, Franconia needs its own book.
Anyway, scroll back for the earlier days of Franconia, starting with What I did on my hols:

It wasn’t a particularly long or complicated trip. Four nights in Ebermannstadt and one in Munich. A day at Annafest, one in Bamberg and another at the Kellers of Buttenheim. A return to places I love, beers that quench and a peace to be cherished.

I love Lager. Annually renewing that love has become part of the rhythm of my life. It’s not about drinking the rarest, oddest or strongest beer. But about reconnecting with the gloriously simple Franconian approach to beer. Where drinking a beer with your breakfast evokes no condemnatory glances. Where the beer isn’t trying to show off and the food not straining to be clever and quirky and new. Where there’s time to just sit and enjoy life, watching it meander past like lazy brook.

There wasn’t a beer I didn’t enjoy, though one really sated my thirst for Lager’s perfect simplicity: Neder Export. Sublimely drinkable.

With thanks to Trevor.


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Style guide: gov.uk


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Style guides are always fascinating. I wish I could forget about them, but various clients have different ideas about how they want English to be written, and on top of that I used to teach English grammar, which meant laying down some laws. Here’s the UK Government digital style guide (link updated Dec 2015).

This is weird:

2.17 Numbers

Write all numbers in numerics (including 1 to 9) except where it’s part of a common expression and it would look strange, eg ‘one or two of them’. Use common sense.

‘One of the 13 words in this sentence is causing problems: this 1.’

This sentence would be better with ‘one’ as the final word.

My rule would have been to write ‘thirteen’, and indeed to write all numbers up to ninety-nine in words (German often says to write from one to twelve in words, but even there I am constantly encountering ‘1.’ (‘first’) in the middle of quite serious and non-abbreviated texts). Of course the problem then arises, as it did for me recently in a translation about genetics, that when you are discussing statistics you should write all numbers as figures. But then there comes a bit of text where it’s no longer about statistics.

Also: write all numbers in numerics! they mean figures, I think.

But the idea of writing ‘this 1’ even in error never occurred to me!

Now down to legal style:

2.14 Legal language

If you’re talking about a legal requirement, use ‘must’. For example, ‘your employer must pay you the National Minimum Wage (NWM)’.

If you feel that ‘must’ doesn’t have enough emphasis, then use ‘legal requirement’, ‘legally entitled’ etc. For example: ‘Once your child is registered at school, you are legally responsible for making sure they attend regularly’.

When deciding whether to use ‘must’ or ‘legally entitled’ etc, consider how important it is for us to talk about the legal aspect, as well as the overall tone of voice.

If a requirement is legal, but administrative, or part of a process that won’t have criminal repercussions, then use: ‘need to’. For example: ‘You will need to provide copies of your marriage certificate’.

This may be a legal requirement, but not completing it would just stop the person from moving on to the next stage of a process, rather than committing a more serious offence.

They are obviously totally avoiding the word ‘shall’. Of course, ‘shall’ in that sense is only used in contracts and statutes, not in writing about them.

‘Need to’ if no criminal repercussions. I love it.


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Schwurgericht in English


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I’ ve been translating a text with a Schwurgericht in it. This is a term I haven’t had to deal with in English since I taught translation up to 2002. This is what I used to tell my students:

Schwurgericht n ≈ criminal court with 3 professional judges and 2 lay judges dealing with serious crimes (at Landgericht)

There are recommendations by the Auswärtiges Amt (Federal Foreign Office) online for translations of court names such as Landgericht (see the list of PDFs at Terminologie). People might want to use these. But there are no recommendations on translations of the names of the various types of court or chamber within the courts.

If you translate Landgericht as Regional Court, as the FFO suggests, it seems a good idea to me because it does not sound like any existing UK or US court. The terms local – regional – higher regional suggest a hierarchy too. The original name Landgericht should be retained somewhere in the translation though, for clarity.

So what about Große Strafkammer? That’s a court (chamber if you like) that deals with serious criminal matters and it sits with three professional judges and three lay judges. (Sits with makes me think of the joke: Mit ihm ist ein großartiger Mensch gestorben – Was, zwei Menschen in einem Grab?). You could say Large (?) Criminal Court/Chamber/Division. You might be able to avoid this detail depending on the context of the translation.

Schwurgericht is a kind of Große Strafkammer which deals the very most serious offences. It has no jury. Is it worth keeping the German word and defining it?

At all events, it’s a superb example of useless translation advice on the Web.

A discussion on LEO rejects jury court but contains suggestions of magistrates’ court (a lower level and a specific UK term) and trial court (US term for a court of first instance – you might use it in some contexts but it’s rather broad).

A discussion on ProZ has some good suggestions but the asker goes for a bad one. (I find those discussions useful sometimes). Crown court for a German court is mad (comes from Romain, who is usually good), and court of assizes is also too specifically UK, apart from having ceased to exist in the early 1970s. A non-member writes:

I came to a conclusion from all the opinions stated hereunder and that is:”trial by jury according to the German legal System”. Do you agree?

Well, not really. I see I’ve given my two cents’ worth in the past, to a poster who said there are twelve jurors in the Schwurgericht – this was apparently the case in 1879.

It does begin to look as if jury court was an appropriate translation in the late 19th century, and as if certain terms are enshrined in dictionaries and fester away there for centuries.


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