Start your interpreting career in an Austrian prison

Ausländische Gefangene in österreichischen Justizanstalten und Polizeianhaltezentren (PDF) (the work of a multinational group) gives some information on the various forms of imprisonment you might enjoy in Austria: Verwahrungshaft, Untersuchungshaft, Strafhaft, Unterbringung im Maßnahmenvollzug, Verwaltungsstrafhaft, polizeiliche Haft, fremdenpolizeiliche Haft.

Fair Trials (via Prisoners Abroad) tells you what’s what if you’re imprisoned in Austria, but it doesn’t tell you you might find yourself acting as an interpreter for other speakers of your language.

Verbesserungsbedarf gibt es vor allem im Bereich der Kommunikation. Das Sprachproblem ist in Gerichtlichen Gefangenenhäusern viel größer als in Strafvollzugsanstalten, wo Insassen meist erst hinkommen, nachdem sie bereits einige Zeit im Gefängnissystem verbracht haben. Vor allem mit Leuten aus dem osteuropäischen und ex-sowjetischen Raum gibt es oft keine gemeinsame Sprache, was Misstrauen, Ängste und Unverständnis erzeugt. Manche Beamte differenzieren wenig und bezeichnen Moldawier, Tschetschenen, Georgier, Armenier, etc. pauschal als „die Russen“, eine Gruppe, der zahlreiche negative Eigenschaften zugeschrieben werden.
Auf Dolmetscher wird im Alltag nicht zurückgegriffen, das sei zu aufwendig und teuer. Meist übersetzten andere Insassen oder Justizpersonal. Sogar bei Ordnungsstrafverfahren wird kaum je ein professioneller Dolmetscher eingesetzt.

An article in Heute, Justiz setzt Häftlinge im Häf’n als Dolmetscher ein, gives examples from a prison in Styria – the photo shows the prison governor. One of the interpreters is a member of the Pink Panther jewel thieves gang.

(via oepo.de)

German Law Archive new site

The German Law Archive at Oxford University has moved to a new site, which was launched on August 6 2015. I was forwarded to it for a specific statute from the Centre for German Legal Information.

After a period in which we had allowed both content and design to collect dust, we are pleased to welcome our users to our new design, launched on 6 August 2015. We hope you will find it more user friendly. We will now work on an update of content. Feedback to the editors (see below) is welcome!

The site is still run by Gerhard Dannemann, now with Christoph König as assistant editor.

The courts and language, and Harry Potter

The Trademark and Copyright Law Blog has – or had a few weeks ago – a post on all the court cases relating to Harry Potter – Harry Potter Lawsuits and Where to Find Them, for example:

Smith v. Rowling. In 2010, Elijah Smith brought a pro se claim against Rowling in the Eastern District of California. The allegation was simple: “I’m the author who write Harry Potter. . .” As to the relief sought, Mr. Smith stated:

Mrs. J.K. Rowling will make a great teacher . . . I’ll be gladly to help Mrs. J.K. Rowling after she pay me $18 billion.

Mr. Smith’s complaint was dismissed shortly after it was brought, and his request to proceed in forma pauperis was denied. Mr. Smith, who at the time the complaint was filed resided in a California state prison, has brought similar claims against Michael Jackson, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dog and Sam Cooke.

(via Law and Magic Blog)

And Mark Liberman at Language Log links to an article on a court being invited to consider corpus linguistics in deciding the meaning of a term (to discharge a weapon), although perhaps the right judge did not win the argument: “Linguists have a name for this kind of analysis” . The linked article is by Gordon Smith in the Conglomerate: Corpus Linguistics in the Courts (Again).

A catapult in Berlin: Strafbefehl translated into English

Andreas Jede is a German lawyer (Rechtsanwalt) who has a blog on German weapons law: Deutsches Waffenrecht (found via Jurablogs). His latest post is about an American who brought a catapult (US slingshot, German Zwille) as a present for his nephews in Berlin and was fined 900 euros plus costs. The catapult was only a little thing, but banned; he could have got away with a crossbow (then could have used it to shoot lions too).

One interesting thing is that a certified translation of the Strafbefehl is shown on the site.

I have recorded Strafbefehl as order of summary punishment – it’s called ‘penal order’ in this translation – and have often done certified translations of them for the German courts. It’s a bit like a parking ticket: for a minor offence, you are sent this document which convicts you provided you accept the conviction and pay a fine, or allows you to appeal and in this way start court proceedings.

About certified translations for the German courts, I intend to write a separate post when I get round to it. You can see here that at the beginning it says ‘Certified translation from the German language’ followed by a line. At the end comes the translator’s certification – I would have put a line and certified under the line, but in this case the translator didn’t want to use a third page and has put the certification in italics. The translator’s stamp and signature have been omitted for reasons of privacy.

It’s a good translation. I do have a grammatical quibble with ‘thirty daily rates’ – I would say ‘thirty daily units’. The German term Tagessatz, by the way, is not an instalment – it’s an amount regarded by the court as appropriate for the financial circumstances of the payer. To my mind, ‘rate’ in this sense is uncountable, and there was a time when weekly ‘units’ were introduced in England, but I think the tabloid press killed them – when people heard how much rich people were paying per week for trivial offences, they were shocked.

Anyway, back to the offence:

Lieber Gutmensch, erklären Sie mir bitte, warum er auch mit diesem Kinderspielzeug genauso hart bestraft worden wäre, genau genommen sogar noch härter, weil er die erheblichen Gutachterkosten hätte bezahlen müssen?

There’s something wonderfully German about the calculations that must be made by an expert witness to determine if the catapult breaches the law:

Der Gutachter muß nämlich feststellen, ob die maximale Bewegungsenergie der Geschossspitzen je Flächeneinheit von 0,16 J/cm2 überschritten wird (Anlage 1, Abschnitt 1, Unterabschnitt 1.2.2 WaffG).

German Deli – Huh?

gdeli1w

It looks as if German Deli is waiting for the next Olympics.

germandeli2w

huhw

They do have a special offer on Limburger cheese, best before date 28th July. I’m not a great eater of Limburger cheese, and am surprised it has a best before date at all. Also an offer on Halberstädter Wurstsoljanka. It is also the place to get your Sahnesteif, or indeed the Great German Bake-Off Hamper (don’t think Paul and Mary would think much of this one) and pseudo Currywurst pack.

There is apparently also a shop here at Stratford.

“Wir sind da ein Rechtsstaat”

There’s been some discussion of how Angela Merkel responded to a Palestinian girl who spoke very fluently of her situation but afterwards began to cry, apparently in the stress of the moment. Merkel took the line that Germany can’t take all immigrants without exception, because there are too many. In a TV interview ranging over the political situation before the summer break, Merkel defended her statement, saying Germany is a Rechtsstaat. From Die Zeit:

In diesem Zusammenhang verteidigte Merkel ihre Reaktion auf ein weinendes Mädchen aus dem Libanon. “Ich finde, die Geste war in Ordnung.” Sie könne ja nicht Menschen, mit denen sie diskutiere, sagen, “weil du jetzt die Bundeskanzlerin getroffen hast, ist dein Schicksal schneller zu lösen als das von vielen, vielen anderen”, sagte Merkel. “Wir sind da ein Rechtsstaat.”

The Local translates this as follows:

“I think the gesture was fine,” Merkel, 61, said Sunday.

She said it would be wrong to tell people “just because you met the chancellor, we can resolve your case faster than many, many other people’s”.

“We are a state under the rule of law,” she said.

I often use that translation for Rechtsstaat, but it seems to me that state under the rule of law puts the wrong emphasis here: it emphasizes that the individual has rights and can enforce them at court, whereas Merkel is emphasizing law as a system that needs to be enforced. Maybe constitutional state would work better here.

This problem is particularly acute for interpreters, who have to translate this kind of thing off the cuff, and may also encounter references to the Third Reich as Unrechtsstaat: however you translate it, it tends to lose its rhetorical punch.

Wherein hereinafter, hereinbefore and therethroughout are considered

I can’t pass by Trebots’ brief entry on The sad decline of hereinbefore. I have to say I have little use for hereinbefore, but quite a lot for hereinafter. I will counter his with another
Google chart which makes me wonder why aforementioned should be on the rise.

English Language & Usage Stack Exchange calls these pronominal adverbs and links to a list in wiktionary. I have not heard of therethroughout but remember the confusion caused to students when they mistook wherefor for wherefore.

On the same subject, it seems that not everyone regards whereby and wobei as false friends.

I used to use an exercise with students where they had to enter the right form of, for instance, hereof, thereof and whereof. They found it surprisingly difficult – surprising to me because German does exactly the same thing.

There’s some good stuff on this and many other aspects of legal English in Rupert Haigh’s book Legal English. There is a website for the book where there are some exercises, although I could not understand the structure of the one on these words. The website is for the fourth edition of the book, whereas I only have the third edition.

Welcome to the online resource bank to support the fourth edition of Rupert Haigh’s Legal English.

If you are a student you will find a bank of activities and exercises corresponding to the chapters in the book designed to give you additional practice opportunities in using Legal English in a range of scenarios. These will range from simple gap-fill exercises, to multiple choice questions, to written activities, to comprehension exercises based on video simulations of real-life legal situations. An automatic grading facility will help you assess your own progress and identify areas for improvement. You can also email your results to your class tutor if required.

In the video section, you can find four instructional videos, based on the book and recorded by the author, to illustrate concepts discussed in the book.

If you are a lecturer you will find a bank of customisable activities which can be used with small groups in seminars or tutorials to help practice their use of oral Legal English.

Matching exercises
Question 3
The extract below is from an Indian deed of partition. It contains various old-fashioned terms beginning with here-, there-, or where- (e.g. hereof, whereof, thereof, hereby, hereinafter etc), which are still commonly found in documents relating to land purchases. For each numbered gap in the extract, select the correct word from the choices below.

Don’t love your translator

I agree with Alain Rosenmund (his blog is Effizient Übersetzen (Lassen): don’t love your translator.

Davon abgesehen, dass sich die Aktion an die falschen Adressaten richtet, kommen die Übersetzerinnen und Übersetzer als Bittsteller daher, statt als Partner, denen man auf Augenhöhe begegnet. Diese Aktion schwächt mit anderen Worten die Position der Übersetzerinnen und Übersetzer. Genauer: Die Übersetzerinnen und Übersetzer, die bei dieser Aktion mitmachen, schwächen ihre eigene Position.

Rosenmund goes on to give advice on how translators should really establish a serious professional relationship.

Fortunately, it sounds as if the stickers can be removed easily:

Our stickers can be removed easily and do not leave marks. The act of sticking them to street lamps and the like will therefore not be considered vandalism in most countries. However, we know that countries like Switzerland and Singapore are very strict and we ask you to consider your country’s law and use common sense when you go out tagging.

Our stickers are vegan, made of biodegradable plastics, and don’t have any negative environmental effects.