Journeymen in Nuremberg

This is a late report from my visit to Germany last October. These are two journeymen. The system apparently exists in France too. I think they’re fully trained, but they then spent three years travelling, never less than 50 km from home, not allowed to drive or use public transport, have mobiles or iPads. Here’s part of a story from the Guardian:

Blacksmith Julian Coode was returning to work after a short tea break. It was a late winter afternoon and the light had faded outside his workshop in Littlebourne, Kent. He and his assistant had been discussing plans for some railings they were commissioned to make, and the forge, unusually, was quiet.

As the men returned to their craft benches, the door flew open. A young man stepped inside wearing a top hat, long black jacket, a white shirt under black corduroy dungarees with large mother-of-pearl buttons, a long twisted cane and a single earring from which hung a tiny key.

He informed his host that he was a Swiss-German blacksmith, named Sebastian Reichlin, and that he had come to stay.

Fortunately for them both, Coode had trained in German-speaking Europe and was familiar with some of the region’s more bizarre customs. He was looking at a travelling journeyman, a craftsman who had served his apprenticeship and was now following tradition by arriving unannounced, to learn from an acknowledged master and to share his hospitality.

Coode, who has four children, says: “I had to phone my wife and ask her to make up a bed in our living room.”

I have rarely seen them. It was good luck that these two walked into my photo when I was taking pictures of people with umbrellas in Nuremberg.

More at BuzzFeed and elsewhere:
German Craftsmen Still Go On Hardcore Medieval Pilgrimages

Season’s greetings

This is from my card ‘Merry Christmas from Brexit country’, in case you didn’t get a hard copy. The picture was taken in Tawney Common on November 23 this year.

Tawney Common

And this is Upminster today. I always want to go out there at night and paint some moustaches on the figures. But there are probably too many surveillance cameras around.

Germany in the late summer of 1938

These are two posts from the blog of Sir Henry Brooke, a retired Court of Appeal judge – highly recommended not only for these posts on his father’s visit to Germany in 1938. These are original reports which appeared anonymously in The Times in autumn 1938.

Of course, first days in any foreign country bring home all sorts of outward differences. Why does almost everybody in a German train spend the journey standing up and looking out of the window? Why have the countless level crossings over railway lines and the ubiquitous single-decker trams been endured on the roads so long? Why are commercial lorries pulling enormous trailers so abundant, long-distance motor-coaches so rare? Why is Germany so far behind us in the development of the flower garden, so far ahead in the use of window-boxes? Why are English standards of forestry so deplorable in comparison? Why is the German town so much noisier through the night? Why is German bedding so apparently unsuited for comfortable sleep, and why are Germans so curious as to make the same criticism of English bedding?

There is more, of course. I find it worrying to think back to that time when Hitler’s view of the Jews tallied with that of the nation, and many people believed that he was their only protection against the problems of the Versailles Treaty.

Germany in the late summer of 1938 (1)
Germany in the late summer of 1938 (2)

Mortgagor, mortgagee and £1m damages claim

It is indeed a tough one, keeping mortgagor and mortgagee apart. I can remember times when I went through the whole of a text in my translation memory program to be quite sure I had got the parties right, especially since there are sometimes errors in the German original.

But I have doubts about the prospects of Nigerian lawyers who are suing the University of Oxford (not OUP?) for errors in mini dictionaries, as reported to The Guardian (Nigeria). Lawyers demand £1 million damages in dictionary error:

It would be interesting to know how this pans out. Yes, some Nigerian lawyers have issued a notice of intention to sue the University of Oxford, over an alleged wrong definition of words “Mortgagee and Mortgagor” in their Oxford mini reference dictionary and Oxford English mini-dictionary, unless they are willing to part with £ 1 million.

The lawyers, Messrs Ogedi Ogu, and Emmanuel Ofoegbu in a notice of intention to sue dated November 9, 2016, addressed to the Registrar, University of Oxford, London, are demanding the sum of £ 1 million for the losses they suffered in their transactions, when they relied on the said wrong definition of the words.

They said the Oxford English mini dictionary and the Oxford mini reference dictionary defined the word “Mortgagee” to mean a borrower and the word “Mortgagor to mean a lender.

According to them, the dictionary definitions are wrongful and misleading as in a Mortgage transaction, the word “Mortgagee” connotes a lender while a “Mortgagor signifies a borrower.

As a result, the lawyers are demanding that the University of Oxford pays to them the money for the wrong definitions of words, which they relied upon to their own detriment.

In addition, they demand that the University of Oxford and Oxford University press, issue a world wide notice of the errors complained of within seven days from the receipt of the said notice.

Via Frédéric Houbert and Tom West.

Crime Fiction in German

Crime Fiction in German. Der Krimi. Edited by Katharina Hall, Cardiff 2016.

Recommended at Lizzy’s Literary Life (Lizzy Sidal), where there is also an interview with Katharina Hall aka Mrs. Peabody – she writes a blog on international crime fiction called Mrs. Peabody Investigates.

This is another book I haven’t read from cover to cover, indeed I don’t think I could, but I see it as a source ofsuggestions for reading. It looks very useful. But then again I have already read too many German crime novels. There is not much point getting addicted if you want to find time to read anything else.

At the beginning there is a 24-page table with a chronology of crime fiction in German set against current historical events. It goes from 1786 (with a couple of earlier events) to 2015. At the back is a full annotated bibliography of sources. Each chapter ends with notes, bibliography of texts, and further secondary reading. There are chapters by various authors on subjects including Austrian and Swiss crime fiction, Der Afrika-Krimi, Der Frauenkrimi and TV shows. Occasional quotations are in English, although the books referred to are not necessarily available in English.

It’s not the aim of the book to analyse crime fiction at length, so it is a bit dry in parts, I think, when it appears more like a catalogue than a commentary.

The time when I read most crime fiction in German was the 90s, and I see that it completely omits one of my favourite spoof series, by Helmut Zenker, about the detective Minni Mann (Zenker is only mentioned for the Kottan TV series). I suppose Minni Mann is not very PC. Titles include Die Mann im Mond and Die Mann ist tot und lässt Sie grüßen. Quite a lot of them have been reprinted, as late as 2014 – my edition of Minni Mann is from 1989. They always included a contract with the author (Buchordnung):

1. Nachfolgende Buchordnung tritt mit der Übernahme von MINNI MANN in Kraft.
2. Lesen darf ich nur Exemplare, die ich erworben oder geschenkt bekommen habe.
3. In anderen Büchern darf ich zur gleichen Zeit nicht angetroffen werden.
4. MINNI MANN darf ich auch alleine und ohne Einwilligung der Eltern lesen.
5. Das Lesen erfolgt auf eigene Gefahr.
6. Für plötzliches Verlassen des Buches ist ein triftiger Grund wie Erkrankung, Geburt, Hochzeit oder Ableben geltend zu machen. Im Krankheitsfall ist Bestätigung des Arztes unbedingt erforderlich.
7. Schriftliche Änderungen meinerseits gehen ohne Anspruch auf Entschädigung in das Eigentum des Autors über.
8. Für während des Lesens abhanden gekommene Garderobe übernehmen Verlag und Autor keine Haftung.
9. Ein Lesezeichen ist nicht erwünscht. Ich darf die Ecke der Seite umbiegen, auf der ich mich befinde.
10. Ich weiß, dass ich als Leser zumindest einen Bekannten oder Verwandten zum Kauf eines eigenen Exemplars bewegen muss. Der Ankauf ist zu kontrollieren.
11. Sollte mir das Buch missfallen, bin ich wenigstens verpflichtet, ein Exemplar meinem besten Feind zu schenken.
12. Nach der Lektüre schließe ich das Buch sorgfältig und stelle es zu den anderen Zenker-Büchern.
13. Gerichtsstand ist ausschließlich Klosterneuburg.

A couple of years ago I did attend a good CIOL seminar on German crime fiction, the translation thereof, I think, by Karen Seago. There is stuff by her online too, but a lot of it only accessible through academic institutions. There’s an article by her in The Journal of Specialised Translation though: Crime (fiction) in Translation (PDF)