Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis won by Sharon Dodua Atoo

The bizarre Ingeborg Bachmann prize for literature has been won by Sharon Dodua Atoo, a black Germanist, mother and activist who has lived in Berlin for 24 years – see Philip Oltermann article in the Guardian. A couple of years ago the texts of the candidates were translated into English, but not this time. The reading, discussion and text, and a video about the author, can be found on the Klagenfurt prize website. She normally writes in English.
Here is more from Sharon Dodua Atoo’s website.

Selbstverwaltung/Fremdverwaltung

I was translating a text about local government in Germany. There are three levels of government: federal, Land and local. The local government authorities sometimes perform their own duties (Selbstverwaltung) and sometimes perform duties that higher authorities commission them to do (Fremdverwaltung).

Although Selbstverwaltung can be translated as self-government, and there is a right to it, I don’t find I get far with this term, and local autonomy works better.

Here’s the Basic Law, Article 28 (2), in the original:

(2) Den Gemeinden muß das Recht gewährleistet sein, alle Angelegenheiten der örtlichen Gemeinschaft im Rahmen der Gesetze in eigener Verantwortung zu regeln. Auch die Gemeindeverbände haben im Rahmen ihres gesetzlichen Aufgabenbereiches nach Maßgabe der Gesetze das Recht der Selbstverwaltung. Die Gewährleistung der Selbstverwaltung umfaßt auch die Grundlagen der finanziellen Eigenverantwortung; zu diesen Grundlagen gehört eine den Gemeinden mit Hebesatzrecht zustehende wirtschaftskraftbezogene Steuerquelle.

and in the ‘official’ translation by Tomuschat and Currie:

(2) Municipalities must be guaranteed the right to regulate all local affairs on their own responsibility, within the limits prescribed by the laws. Within the limits of their functions designated by a law, associations of municipalities shall also have the right of self-government according to the laws. The guarantee of self-government shall extend to the bases of financial autonomy; these bases shall include the right of municipalities to a source of tax revenues based upon economic ability and the right to establish the rates at which these sources shall be taxed.

Translated by: Professor Christian Tomuschat and Professor David P. Currie
Translation revised by: Professor Christian Tomuschat and Professor Donald P. Kommers in cooperation with the Language Service of the German Bundestag

They translate ‘Länder, Kreise und Gemeinden’ as ‘Land, county and municipality’ (intelligently avoiding the plural of Land and also the use of ‘(federal) state’ so popular for Land).

A note on the word Gemeinde: it is most often translated as municipality nowadays, the US American preference. Local authority is more British. I also like the term commune – they are colloquially called Kommunen in German – but I believe I am out on a limb here. There are various categories of these local authorities, but fortunately I didn’t need to go into that.

The term Fremdverwaltungsaufgaben was more problematic, and I was glad to find transferred duties in a useful article on the German Law Archive site, Local Government Administration in Germany, by Dieter Haschke.

Transferred sphere of activities of the municipalities

The registrar’s office performs all the important tasks in a municipality: publishing banns, performing marriage ceremonies and issuing birth and death certificates are state tasks that the Federation or the Land have transferred to the municipalities by virtue of a law. State control is extended to legal and expert supervision with the entitlement to issue instructions under certain conditions.

The following administrative areas are also part of the transferred sphere of activity: …

I don’t really like sphere of activity (Aufgabenbereich), but in legal translation you don’t always finish up with a natural-sounding term.

The German Law Archive site has been updated recently and is well worth a look.

This and that

Pending future legal translation posts, a few remarks:

1. It seems invidious to discuss the EU referendum, as the situation is changing all the time, but some links:

Jolyon Maugham’s Article 50. Our letter to the government. contains a copy of a letter of Bindmans LLP to the Government Legal Department funded through Crowdjustice and seeking clarification that Article 50 will not be activated without primary legislation.

David Allan Green at his Jack of Kent blog: The Two Article 50 legal claims – the current details.

2. Rob Lunn’s post on Using models for translating contracts on the value and limits of models and corpora in the target language.

Going to Somerset House

QOTD Tower Hill tube station, 19 May:

qotd

Today you are you
That is truer than true
There is no one alive
Who is youer than you!

Dr Seuss

I didn’t realize Trollope was responsible for pillar boxes:

trollope

Incidentally, this one, on the Strand, is an Edward VII one:

edviipostbox

Some interesting English at Photo London:

krims

Stairs:

stairs2

stairs1

Translation and interpreting

Translation and interpreting (or more commonly in the US: interpretation)

Translators translate and interpreters interpret? Yes, but interpreting is a form of translation. Newspapers are going to go on referring to people translating in court, Afghan translators and so on. Get over it, people!

interptransl

And I can’t agree with the argument for the distinction that interpreters have to translate on the spot so they are allowed leeway, i.e. interpreting is called interpreting because it involves understanding and conveying a message – as if translation didn’t, see here:

In fact, it is this real-time comprehension, analysis, and accurate reformulation of one language into another that poses the greatest challenge. The interpreter is both listener and speaker, working in real-time, without a safety net, and with little room to correct errors. The simultaneous, or virtually simultaneous, nature of the work combined with a lack of control over the content of the original speeches mean that the interpreter performs his or her work in demanding conditions that leave little room for error.

However, the importance of the translator’s work must not be overlooked: the absence of immediate time constraints allows the translator to apply more mental resources to the task of finding the correct solution. The translator always seeks rigorous solutions, not solutions that will just ‘get the job done’. To do so, the translator applies thorough research and consulting techniques and uses specialist databases to broaden their understanding of the subject matter.

just because ‘interpret’ has a double meaning doesn’t mean that the two meanings merge.

While I’m on the subject, Werner Siebers, the German criminal defence attorney blogger, has reported on an interpreter who was removed from a case because he translated too freely.

Er versteht sich selbst mehr als Ausleger und Interpretierer denn als Übersetzer. Er meint, „das Gesetz“ – welches auch immer er meint – schreibe ihm vor, gerade nicht wörtlich zu übersetzen, vielmehr müsse er gleich den von ihm erkannten – vermuteten? – Sinn zu Papier bringen.

The comments get a bit hair-raising:

Batman schreibt:
11. Mai 2016 um 11:59

Also wenn der Zeuge sagt: „It was raining cats and dogs“, soll der Dolmetscher übersetzen, dass es „Katzen und Hunde“ geregnet habe??
Antworten

rawsiebers schreibt:
11. Mai 2016 um 13:41

Selbstverständlich muss er zwingend so übersetzen, er hat nichts zu unterpretieren und auszulegen, er ist lediglich Sprachmittler. Gestattet ist ihm, eine Anmerkung zu machen, dass es sich um eine Redewendung handelt, die eine andere Bedeutung als die wörtliche Übersetzung haben kann (z.B. es regnet Bindfäden oder wie aus Eimern oder einfach stark). Vorrangig ist aber zunächst selbstverständlich und zwingend die wörtliche Übersetzung.

However, it appears that the interpreter was indeed very free: he said “Dafür habe ich kein Geld” (I haven’t got enough money for that) instead of “Mir sind die Hände gebunden” (My hands are tied).

There was a bit of a discussion about this blog post on a translators’ mailing list and some remarks were made by court interpreters – police, public prosecutors or judges ask the interpreter to instruct the witness:

“Herr Dolmetscher, sagen Sie ihm bitte, er ist … schwarzgefahren und hat das Recht… etc.”

oder “Ach ja, ich habe vergessen den Zeugen zu beleheren. Herr Dolmetscher, sagen Sie ihm… Ähm.. Sie kennen doch die Belehrung, gelle? Also, sagen Sie ihm, dass er als Zeuge berechtigt ist… und alles andere, das Übliche, halt!”

#barristerpoetry

A hashtag invented by Sean Jones QC of 11 Kings Bench Walk is doing the rounds, according to Legal Cheek. Lawyers try their hand at law-themed poetry, with hilarious results – from the comments there:

The general idea is to take the beginning of a famous poem and then add the bathos of legal vocabulary.

Sean Jones
‏@seanjonesqc

I was much further out than you thought.
And not waiving but accepting the repudiation.
#barristerpoetry

Philip
‏@Psychonaut99

My instructing solicitors
Have not provided me with
Those papers,
Your Honour. I cannot…
Oh.
Here they are
#barristerpoetry

But some rhyme:

Keith Rooney
‏@KeithJRooney

The barrister bemoaned his witness as a silent interlocutor, the judge opined he could just rely on res ipsa locquitur #barristerpoetry
12:00 PM – 18 May 2016

Impressumspflicht

One of the most frequently discussed translation errors is that of Impressum. A search of this site will reveal many posts on it, perhaps leading to confusion. The main purpose of an Impressum is to make it possible to contact the website owner, so I think legal notice is better than disclaimer, even if there is a disclaimer in there too. But to translate it as imprint or masthead is rather ridiculous.

I’ve even discussed Impressumspflicht, and Peter Müller raised the subject too. But this related to substance, not vocabulary.

Now I see in Linguee that there is a sentence on data privacy that gives rich soil for translation errors:

Der Nutzung von im Rahmen der Impressumspflicht veröffentlichten Kontaktdaten durch Dritte zur Übersendung von nicht ausdrücklich angeforderter Werbung und Informationsmaterialien wird hiermit ausdrücklich widersprochen.

Here are some attempts (leaving out the names of the guilty):

We hereby expressly prohibit the use of the contact data published as part of our duty to publish an imprint …

The utilization of contact data published within the bounds of the imprint obligation by a third party for the consignment

The use of the contact details, published in the framework of the index obligations, by third parties for the transmission

The use of contact data which has been published due to general information requirements by third parties,

The use of published contact data within the limits of impring opbligation through third parties for the transfer of not explicitly requested advertising

The use of in the context of the imprint obligation published contact contacts through third the transmittal of not expressly

The use of contact data published in the context of the Impressumspflicht by third parties for the over-sending of advertising not requested

We hereby expressly object to the use by third parties of the contact data published within the scope of our statutory legal notice

The utilization from in the context of the “About us” liability announced contact information by third parties to send implicit

The use of the framework of the imprint obligation published contact data by third parties for the distribution of unwanted

My version would probably be something like ‘Under German/EU law, we have to to publish contact details on our website. We expressly refuse permission to third parties to use contact data revealed in this way to send advertising and information materials that have not been expressly requested.’