Karin Linhart, Wörterbuch Recht 2nd edition

This is not a review, and I think dictionary reviews are difficult anyway. But I’d like to say that I’ve had a look at the second edition of Karin Linhart’s law dictionary (DE>EN, EN>DE, 2017) and it really does look greatly changed and improved from the first edition (2010).

I wrote about the first edition here.

Karin Linhart is German, which I hadn’t realized. She has a page in the German Wikipedia, Karin Linhart, with links to other sources and a list of publications. Meet Karin Linhart: A Law Library of Congress Patron has a photo of her with three Library of Congress librarians.

Here are the publisher’s details for the new edition.

One feature of this dictionary remains that its strongest point is the EN>DE part, with a preference (I still feel) for AmE. There are boxouts (those little additional glossary boxes), which Beck Verlag seems to love – I’m not sure who reads them – mainly in that section, but in the DE>EN section too. Their number has decreased. There are definitely English as well as US terms.

The foreword states that the dictionary has been newly designed, expanded and updated, and it is oriented mainly towards foreign students at German, Austrian and Swiss universities, but it is also for German students studying abroad, for lawyers, judges, and although it is written more from a lawyer’s point of view than a translator’s (what on earth does this mean?) it may be of use for translators and interpreters too.

A lot of the end materials have gone. including the amusing advice for German lawyers speaking English abroad and the US and South African constitutions. There is now only a specimen letter of application and CV for Germans applying in the USA.

The new edition is said to have Austrian and Swiss terms in it. So I checked the term HerabsetzungsklageHerabsetzungsurteil came up as a query on a mailing list this week. And it is in there:

Herabsetzungsklage (CH) ErbR
“(in Fällen, in denen die Anordnungen in der letztwilligen Verfügung den Wert übersteigen, über den nach Berücksichtigung der Pflichtteile noch verfügt werden kann) action in abatement – Art. 475 chZGB.”

This is excellent. The term is also in Tom West’s Trilingual Swiss Dictionary, of course, there citing Art. 522, which is equally appropriate, but without the definition.

One thing that strikes me on my cursory review is that there is an emphasis on terminology, especially nouns, from statutes, rather than, for example, conjunctions and turns of phrase – this is not surprising in a small dictionary, and it is what I would go to Romain for. But my Romain is falling apart and there is no help on the horizon – this might be what is meant by saying it is a dictionary conceived for lawyers rather than translators.

There are a large number of cross-references, necessary to save space in a small dictionary.

Noted in flicking through:
lucidum intervallum is translated as clear moment, rather than the usual lucid interval.

Lockvogel Strafr. agent provocateur (stool pigeon? decoy? not a very common word)

Arglistige Täuschung is followed by = List (A), that is, the Austrian equivalent is introduced after the German term – very useful. Other examples are Sorgerecht, (A) Obsorge

The English claimant for Kläger is there, but other new terms like statement of case are not.

mens rea is cross-referenced to criminal state of mind, which is the main headword and a very oddly phrased one, but I suppose it is hard to give a brief definition.

Anyway, this is just a brief reference. I will probably come back to the dictionary. I wish I had made a list of words to check all legal dictionaries for.

7 thoughts on “Karin Linhart, Wörterbuch Recht 2nd edition

  1. Thank you, Margaret, this is very helpful! Making a list of words to check is an excellent idea. And any time is a good time to start one. I have begun comparing human translation output vs neural MT (DeepL) output and use a table for that purpose, including a column for notes/explanations.

  2. A list of words, including the Austrian and Swiss terms I’ve had to deal with, is something I should have done years ago! I have opinions about dictionaries, but it seems dubious for me to comment on them without a more thorough examination.
    We have been discussing DeepL on an ITI group. It is amazing. Someone pointed out that it works best for texts from Wikipedia, and of course it will be full of that. I put a Merkblatt about Pflichtteile in there – not a private text of course – and the only thing it couldn’t handle was Verfügung von Todes wegen, simply because the three-word term was not registered in it as a term. It had ‘by virtue of death’ and ‘by virtue of the decree of death’. It must have a massive database because it handled the rest really very well.

  3. Pity the lexicographer didn’t consult you after your review of the first edition, Margaret.

    Just a few points during a near-lucid, witching-hour interval:

    1. Agent provocateur is surely a criminal-law textbook-term. See also the main entrapment case of https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200102/ldjudgmt/jd011025/loose-1.htm Stool-pigeon is hyphenated in the OED. Consider the allied, colloquial terms of a plant, grass, sneak or snitch, all of which might travel well Transatlantically and to Down Under.

    2. Despite G/hits, the odd prepositional phrase of action in abatement should preferably be one for abatement (perhaps to the vanishing point of ademption of legacies) cf. an action for abatement of the price in the context of sale of goods. Herabsetzungsurteil might be an ‘order for abatement’, though odd-looking to me as the processes of Will-related abatement and ademption are, I had always thought, automatic and non-litigious in the UK (includes Scotland).

    3. Generally, there seems to be no sign of Liechtenstein that tends to gets squeezed out, as usual, by the big sisters or brothers of Austria and Switzerland from which the Principality draws so much.

  4. Ha, ha! I am glad you did not add Sudeten, Silesian, Transalvanian or Volga German. Unless immersed, engrossed and absorbed in lëtzebuergesch or Belgian German, legal and financial interpreters and translators into and out of German would traditionally have a more pressing ‘trusts-model tax planning’ need for Liechtenstein equivalents. Alas, to use an expression, the compendious Swiss-published textbook of Einführung in das liechteinsteinsche Recht does not have a glossary.

  5. I don’t have too much of a problem nowadays – not that I do Liechtenstein financial stuff if I can help it – because I just don’t use paper dictionaries so often and I find things on the internet.
    Are you suggesting there is separate legal terminology in Transylvania, for example? I used to live with a Transylvanian and I have never heard of it. But I have done translations from Italian German (Alto Adige), so maybe we haven’t exhausted everything.

  6. Transylvania (thanks for the right spelling) was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, though the Siebenbürgen Saxons – whose vernacular ranked as mittelhochdeutsch – did have their own Eigenlandrecht until 1876 and had been wont to study their law at Vienna University.

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