m/w/d DE>EN

I recently translated this (männlich/weiblich/divers) in a job ad as m/f/x. Other suggestions made by colleagues were more experimental. However, I am now seeing “m/f/d” (mainly on German sites?). And in the USA there is m/f/d/v meaning masculine/feminine/disabled/veteran.

There is an academic job site in the UK and I see they have Professor (m/f/d) International Management and Finance at the Technische Hochschule Deggendorf and Postdoc (m/f/x) at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig.

Functional and formal equivalence in legal translation

Some TranslationTalk tweets this week reminded me of the terms functional equivalence and formal equivalence. I haven’t thought about these terms for years so I thought I would refresh my memory. (This is not a disagreement with the TranslationTalk tweets – they just reminded me of it).

When I started teaching legal translation, in the late 1980s, in those glorious days when no one much wanted legal translation at all, let alone for it to be taught, except, as it happened, the Bavarian courts, I was pleased to be recommended Martin Weston’s book An English Reader’s Guide to the French Legal System. I should add that legal translation had not yet been discovered as such a cornucopia for academic investigation – this was before Susan Šarčević’s New Approach to Legal Translation (which was hampered by having to take many of its translation examples from Canadian French, which is usually translated into Canadian Frenglish). We didn’t have internet resources in the 80s, whereas nowadays, at least for the German and English language pair, there are plenty of bilingual materials online.

Martin Weston had translated in the Secretariat of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and was then Senior Translator in the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights. His book was originally a dissertation for a linguistics MA. He has a full bibliography of works on linguistics and translation theory; law; and dictionaries and lexicography.

I found Weston’s analysis of how to translate legal terminology very useful for teaching, though when I myself had a problematic term to translate, I didn’t run through his categories in my head but simply decided how close the German and English terms should be and how they would work in my context before I decided how to translate them.

Weston says that there are five possible approaches to translating ‘culture-bound’ SL expressions (incidentally it looks as if Newmark did something like this at an earlier date):

  1. nearest equivalent TL concept (départment: county)
  2. translate word for word (Académie Française: French Academy)
  3. transcribe the foreign expression, adding a TL explanation if necessary (croissant: croissant – needs no explanation)
  4. create a neologism: a) a literal translation / calque (université du troisième age: university of the third age) b) naturalization (informatique: informatics) c) use existing naturalization (départment: department);
  5. use an existing naturalization (which may be felt to be a native TL expression) (département: department,

Number 1 is functional equivalence, number 2 is formal equivalence.

Thus one could translate le Conseil des ministres as the Cabinet – to translate it as the Council of Ministers would have no equivalent in British culture and would conflict with the English title of the decision-making body of the European Community.

It’s for every translator to decide which type of translation works in English – in any case, many translations of terms have become standard now. I was surprised at the suggestion that a civil-law lawyer might be translated as barrister or solicitor, depending on their current role, because for me the terms are too specific to the English divided profession. Weston does discuss this at length. He seems inclined to accept barrister as a generic term. Discussing how to translate avocat (p. 103), Weston finds that the differences “are not such as to preclude the trnaslation ‘barrister’, however. At the same time, though, it should be noted that, just as many international organizations have official titles in more than one language, so European Community barristers, who are now allowed to practise in any member State, must use only their original official title (e.g. avocat, Rechtsanwalt, barrister), not a translation.”

When I wanted to use this list in teaching, I tried to replace the French examples by German ones, but it didn’t work very well. If you translate Kabinett as Cabinet, I suppose you have both formal and functional equivalence. But still it seemed a useful way of thinking about terminology – not that legal translation consists solely of terminology.

If I were to encounter the word Rechtsanwalt to translate for the first time today, I would have a number of dictionaries to consult and examples to consider. I probably wouldn’t have the time to research in great detail the precise differences not only between Rechtsanwalt and Notar, but between solicitor, barrister, attorney, lawyer, attorney-at-law. As Weston writes, “In a court context, avocat (de la défense) will often be translated as ‘counsel for the defence)'”. But I would be thinking: is this close enough functionally? would it confuse the English reader? how much support does the rest of the text provide to the intended meaning? how important is a precise rendering of this term in this particular text? who is going to read it? (my texts are never intended specifically for England and Wales, but for a number of readers, some of whom aren’t even in common law systems).

I agree with Malcolm Harvey on this (A Beginner’s Course in Legal Translation: the Case of Culture-bound Terms)

Malcolm Harvey Université Lumière Lyon 2, France


Authors are divided over the merits of this technique: Weston describes it as the ‘ideal method of translation’ (1991:23), whereas Sarcevic claims it is ‘misleading and should be avoided in the translation of laws’ (1985:131). Experience shows that learners tend to overuse this device, no doubt because it is aesthetically satisfying and allows them to apply newly-acquired knowledge about the TL system. This can cause them to ignore potential dangers: for instance, the term tribunal d’instance can produce anomalies such as ‘Magistrates’ Court’ or ‘County Court’, which sound distinctly odd in the French context. This temptation is shared by dictionaries and vocabulary books, which sometimes offer incongruous or erroneous equivalencies such as Garde des Sceaux = ‘Lord Chancellor’; avocat général = ‘Queen’s Counsel’ (Gusdorf 1993:85).

Apprentice translators should double-check both denotation and connotation before resorting to a functional equivalent.

This technique is appropriate for the translation of texts intended for the lay reader (novels, general newspaper articles, political speeches etc.) in contexts where scrupulous accuracy is less important than fluency and clarity. However, in a document intended for lawyers, the technique can be misleading. 

TranslationTalk: rotation curation account on Twitter

Readers probably know about Rotation Curation on Twitter (#rocur) – accounts where the person tweeting (curator) changes every week. If not, there is more in Wikipedia at Rotation Curation.

The account is usually linked to a place, as in I am Germany, but there is now a TranslationTalk account, and this week it has been curated by Paula Arturo, an Argentinian legal translator and lawyer – website translatinglawyers.com.

There are a couple of points raised by Paula this week that I would like to take up, and that will mean blog posts – I have written a couple of replies on Twitter, but I don’t feel they lead to a multi-person discussion and then they disappear into the ether.

I find it hard to follow long topics on Twitter because I don’t log in often enough to catch up with everyone I am following. Does anyone? So even if a tweet is presented as a thread, it still alternates with non-threads where the curator has a sense of continuity but many readers may not. There is an archive of TranslationTalk tweets here. This is helpful but also illustrates how broken-up the tweets are.

Using CAT tools for translation

I’ve been using computer-aided technology for translation since 1998. I use Transit, currently TransitNXT, from STAR. It’s a very good program and has many excellent features I am too lazy to learn about. It is also much hated by many translators. Anyway, it has helped my legal translation in many ways, but it has never saved time. Over the years I have often heard that such tools are useless for legal translation, but that was just something said by people who had no idea what they were talking about. My CAT tool lets me see source and target text at the same time and links to all the terminology I have stored (the STAR terminology database, Termstar, is the best I know).

Percy Balemans has a post on her blog in which she has gone to the effort of describing all the reasons she likes CAT tools (post dated February 2013 but still relevant today), so I am linking it here and can save myself the effort: The usefulness of CAT tools.https://pbtranslations.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/the-usefulness-of-cat-tools/

Seagulls at Folkestone

I can’t remember if I’ve posted these before. They were taken with a small camera in the Eurotunnel terminus at Folkestone in July 2013. Standing in the queue for coffee I looked up and saw them standing on the canvas roof. Unfortunately maybe the roof has changed, but at all events there is now, or was last time I was there, a fake hawk flying above to frighten the seagulls off.



LATER NOTE: Here is a photo sent to me by Victor Dewsbery – it seemed difficult to add it in a comment. – I meant to mention his useful post on terminology in the construction industry recently but somehow never got round to it

Travelling in Germany in earlier years

I eventually got round to reading Vanity Fair when I had watched the excellent TV adaptation last year – I did not realize the book was over 900 pages long. Previous attempts had failed after about 4 pages because I thought there were no interesting characters, so I missed its light treatment of society and politics and Waterloo.

There are some parts where the characters travel to the German principalities in the summer, as was apparently common. They went by boat from near the Tower. Here from Project Gutenberg

Am Rhein

The above everyday events had occurred, and a few weeks had passed, when on one fine morning, Parliament being over, the summer advanced, and all the good company in London about to quit that city for their annual tour in search of pleasure or health, the Batavier steamboat left the Tower-stairs laden with a goodly company of English fugitives. The quarter-deck awnings were up, and the benches and gangways crowded with scores of rosy children, bustling nursemaids; ladies in the prettiest pink bonnets and summer dresses; gentlemen in travelling caps and linen-jackets, whose mustachios had just begun to sprout for the ensuing tour; and stout trim old veterans with starched neckcloths and neat-brushed hats, such as have invaded Europe any time since the conclusion of the war, and carry the national Goddem into every city of the Continent. The congregation of hat-boxes, and Bramah desks, and dressing-cases was prodigious. There were jaunty young Cambridge-men travelling with their tutor, and going for a reading excursion to Nonnenwerth or Konigswinter; there were Irish gentlemen, with the most dashing whiskers and jewellery, talking about horses incessantly, and prodigiously polite to the young ladies on board, whom, on the contrary, the Cambridge lads and their pale-faced tutor avoided with maiden coyness; there were old Pall Mall loungers bound for Ems and Wiesbaden and a course of waters to clear off the dinners of the season, and a little roulette and trente-et-quarante to keep the excitement going; there was old Methuselah, who had married his young wife, with Captain Papillon of the Guards holding her parasol and guide-books; there was young May who was carrying off his bride on a pleasure tour (Mrs. Winter that was, and who had been at school with May’s grandmother); there was Sir John and my Lady with a dozen children, and corresponding nursemaids; and the great grandee Bareacres family that sat by themselves near the wheel, stared at everybody, and spoke to no one. Their carriages, emblazoned with coronets and heaped with shining imperials, were on the foredeck, locked in with a dozen more such vehicles: it was difficult to pass in and out amongst them; and the poor inmates of the fore-cabin had scarcely any space for locomotion. These consisted of a few magnificently attired gentlemen from Houndsditch, who brought their own provisions, and could have bought half the gay people in the grand saloon; a few honest fellows with mustachios and portfolios, who set to sketching before they had been half an hour on board; one or two French femmes de chambre who began to be dreadfully ill by the time the boat had passed Greenwich; a groom or two who lounged in the neighbourhood of the horse-boxes under their charge, or leaned over the side by the paddle-wheels, and talked about who was good for the Leger, and what they stood to win or lose for the Goodwood cup.


There is more.

I’ve also look ed at Travellers in the Third Reich. The rise of fascism through the eyes of everyday people, by Julia Boyd. This collects reports by British and American visitors to the new Germany in the 1930s. There is a wide variety of anecdotes (the US athletes from poor backgrounds who went to the Berlin Olympics were amazed by the amount of food they could eat on the boa – one marathon runner had to give up the race after one mile because he had put on so much weight during the voyage).

From the introduction:

Students form a particularly interesting group. It seems that even in the context of such an unpleasant regime, a dose of German culture was still considered an essential part of growing up. But it is hard to find an explanation for why so many British and American teenagers were sent off to Nazi Germany right up until the outbreak of war. Parents who despised the Nazis and derided their gross ‘culture’ showed no compunction in parcelling off their children to the Reich for a lengthy stay. For the young people in question, it was to prove an extraordinary experience, if not exactly the one originally proposed. Students certainly numbered among those who, on returning from Germany, tried to alert their families and friends to the lurking danger. But public indifference or sympathy with Nazi ‘achievements’, cheerful memories of beer gardens and dirndls, and, above all, the deep-seated fear of another war, meant that too often such warnings fell on deaf ears.

Austrian Civil Code explained

As mentioned by my commenter AMM under the last entry (thanks, Adrian), a team at Graz University are working on putting the ABGB into language which is easier to understand.

The Austrian Civil Code dates from 1811, and parts of it have not been changed since then, while other parts have been updated in rather formal language.

The ABGB (Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch für die gesammten deutschen Erbländer der Oesterreichischen Monarchie) can be found here.The Graz project is online.

And here is an example showing a useful discussion of the language aspects of the existing text in sections 285 et seq.



Definitionen/Einteilungen von Sachen:





−  zT etwas willkürlich (Bedeutung hier oft noch nicht zu erkennen)
−  später Wichtiges fehlt, so zB die vertretbare Sache, die in § 983 (Darlehen) vorkommt, oder die verkehrsfähige Sache; eine Ergänzung von § 291 wäre insofern wohl wünschenswert
−  etwas genauere Regelung der unbeweglichen Sachen fehlt, nicht einmal die Grundstücke werden in § 293 genannt

Österreichisches Rechtswörterbuch

The small German-language dictionary of Austrian Law, Österreichisches Rechtswörterbuch by Heinz G. Russwurm and Alexander P. Schoeller, published by Juridica Verlag (2nd ed. 1997, ISBN 3-85131-067-5)

has been updated as Österreichisches Rechtswörterbuch, by Ute Svinger and Katharina Winkler, published by Manz Verlag (2014, ISBN 978-3-214-17586-3)

I completely missed this in 2014!

The new edition still has “1600 Rechtsbegriffe”. One difference is that the relevant statute reference is placed in brackets after each term it applies too.

I have done PDF scans of one double page of each and I am trying to add them – I absolutely hate this new WordPress version – can I go back to the old one? how do I add media? and what good does the change do? OK, you will have to download these PDFs if you are interested. I may replace them with an iphone shot when the light is better.

Russwurm:

Svinger:

Anyway, it won’t break the bank, and the formatting is nice – cross-referenced words appear in italics in the text.

Dictionary of differences Austrian and German law

Wörterbuch rechtsterminologischer Unterschiede Österreich–Deutschland (Österreichisches Deutsch – Sprache der Gegenwart, Band 16) von Rudolf Muhr (Autor), Marlene Peinhopf (Autor)

This book contains 2000 Austrian legal terms with their German equivalents and much more. There are English and French translations too. You can look inside the book at amazon. 

The German-law equivalent is given if there is one. 43 Austrian terms and 492 German terms have no equivalent in the other legal system. 

For example: for Abfertigung we find it is a statutory term – the German equivalent is Abfindung, the English severance pay and the French indemnité(s) de licenciement. There are definitions for both the Austrian and German terms. Where a term doesn’t exactly exist in German law, there  is still a note explaining the situation in more detail. 

I’ve only skimmed the book so far. the use of English translations is of great interest. My eye fell on Landesgericht – circuit court (UK) / regional court, and Landbutter: country butter – I’m not too sure about those, but most of the English looks good.

There are other books in the series, in particular Heidemarie Markhardt’s Wörterbuch der österreichischen Rechts-, Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungsterminologie – see earlier post.

MORE DETAILS ADDED THE NEXT DAY

I have now had a closer first look at the dictionary. It arises from work on Austrian German and ‘Bundesdeutsch’ in the EU after Markhardt, whose work on Austrian German for the EU was up to 2007. It is also to be seen as an attempt to show how terminology work can be constructed in pluricentral languages such as German, where two legal systems are based on the same language, within the EU. That is the case also for English, French, Greek, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish and Spanish. The first version of the dictionary was produced between 2007 and 2010, with the support of the Austrian government. About 1000 of the terms later entered IATE. The project was fully revised between 2014 and 2015. 

The emphasis of the dictionary is Austrian law, and therefore the German legal terms which have no equivalent in Austrian law have not been treated in detail. 

The English is described as based on English and Commonwealth law and was reviewed by Carmen Prodinger (Canberrra/Klagenfurt), hence I think the ‘circuit court’. 

The dictionary contains full details of the terminological entries, which contain definitions, sources, equivalents and in fact much more information than we usually get in a legal dictionary. At the back there is an alphabetical list in table form of German legal concepts with their Austrian counterparts, followed by a list of all the Austrian terms which lack a German equivalent. 

I think the dictionary will be extremely useful. It does contain some food vocabulary, not a big percentage though.