The Bundesrat, sometimes called the Federal Council, Germany’s second house of parliament, has published texts describing itself in French and English. They can be downloaded as PDFs but are also available as small pocketable booklets.
This came up on twitter yesterday and I wondered what its purpose was. I don’t know what its dissemination is either. I do know a similar booklet by the Bundesverfassungsgericht, similarly with a description of the building and artworks, though that may be largely online now. But do English- and French-speaking people visit the Bundesrat? What do I know?
In fact I then accidentally discovered that there is a Bundesrat app – in German though. So this booklet calls the Länder federal states but has to crosslink to “Länder” in the app.
We have argued about “federal state” in the past – is Germany not a federal state? then it can’t contain sixteen federal states, and in fact the text does get tied up in this connection. But I think it’s become standard and is understood. I am usually asked to write Land and Länder in British English texts, which would make the following sentence clearer.
The federal states participate in shaping federal legislation through the Bundesrat.
I am not going to take time to analyse the translation in depth. I just skimmed it. It is very good English, a bit literal (perhaps non-native?) – a bit heavy reading, as is the German – the text is descriptive rather than analytical and probably intended for schools. I wondered if the following was a dig at the House of Commons (it comes up again later):
. Their debates are very fact-oriented – loud interjections or applause are rarely heard.
I did find a Germanism, apparently not in the German original but perhaps in an earlier version – my emphasis:
Mitglieder sind die Ministerpräsidentinnen und präsidenten und die Ministerinnen und Minister der Länder beziehungsweise die Bürgermeisterinnen und Bürgermeister sowie Senatorinnen und Senatoren der Stadtstaaten.
The Bundesrat is made up of the Minister Presidents and ministers from the federal states, along with their pendants in the city states, the mayors and senators.
I imagine the translation is American English. I have never understood federal bills as a translation of Bundesgesetze – to me, a bill is a draft – but I suppose it’s US.
Zustimmungsgesetz – an Act of the Bundestag requiring the consent of the Bundesrat – is strangely abbreviated as consent law.
I do wonder whether the title of the brochure, “16 Länder – Ein Ergebnis” translated as “16 Federal States – one conclusion” is right. Maybe “one result”?
Thanks to Charles Eddy.