Postman’s leg and udal law

I will be getting back to legal translation matters – really! Meanwhile:

1. Postman’s leg £2.95:

postmans legs

Apparently these are also sold as Dinosaur Bones.

2. Burns Night tomorrow: Lidl has or had kilts on offer.

3. Between the Lines: podcasts on literary translation, including Joyce Crick on Freud and Kafka in English and Anthea Bell and Jo Catling on translating W.G. Sebald.

4. It seems holders of manorial rights in land will not be able to claim damages for fracking.

5. I suppose it’s not likely that, if Scotland were to be independent, Orkney and Shetland would have to be handed back under udal law? It does appear that a very few people, possibly not including royalty, are or were pursuing this line.

AN INDEPENDENT Scotland will have to hand back Shetland and Orkney according to Denmark’s British Ambassador.

In partnership with Norway’s King Harald V, the Danish regent Queen Margrethe II intends reviving the ancient rites of Udal Law which were ratified by the Scottish parliament in 1567.

New legal translation blog

I am excited to announce that Thomas West has been running a legal blog for a couple of months – I have only just seen it.
The blog can be accessed from his website,
Most of the posts so far are on Spanish to English legal translation, but there will certainly be posts on German coming, on German law and Swiss law above all.

The opening post in 2014 is headed 10 Ways to Improve Your Legal Translations – it contains a lot of useful advice:

3. Beware of British terminology in the bilingual dictionaries:
High Court (a court of first instance in England, but used by American journalists to refer to the United States Supreme Court)
locus standi (this is called “standing” in the United States)
Rules of the Supreme Court (this is the equivalent of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in the United States)

Yes, I remember being surprised to read the US press writing about ‘the high court’.

Be careful not to assume that the photograph of the former King Juan Carlos of Spain, who has been testing the adage ‘The King can do no wrong’, with Tom, who looks different and as far as I know has done less wrong.

The post Costas, costes y costos reminded me that in England we talk about court fees and lawyers’ costs. There used to be a term taxation of costs, meaning review of the necessity of costs, where a court officer, called a taxing officer (this gives the word taxing at least three meanings), reviews whether the solicitors had overcharged (the service is only available in connection with a court case, but the court’s fees, of course, cannot be challenged in the same way). The term has apparently been changed to detailed assessment since 1998. However, taxing officers and taxation orders are still so called. Here’s the Law Society on making a complaint about your solicitor’s bill.

British voters considering CDU

Tories use picture of German road in ‘road to recovery’ election poster

A Conservative election poster with the theme ‘the road to recovery’ has a photoshopped version of a photo taken near Weimar six years ago.

In an email to Elaine O’Neill, the photographer said: “I think 35 percent of the picture is taken from my picture, the sky and other elements from other pictures.”

This has gone down well on Twitter.

LATER NOTE: And here’s Steve Bell’s take.

The seven noses of Soho guided walk

Happy New Year to all readers and I wish you the infinite wealth which you may or may not get after seeing all seven noses in Soho on Peter Berthoud‘s tour – recommended. Do not fall for anyone offering you ‘six noses of Soho’ at a reduced rate. This is a pale copy and, what’s more, ineffective. The Peter Berthoud walk was not just about the noses and went all over Soho and beyond in two hours as the weather got drier and the skies gloomier.


We saw one of the altered traffic signs not yet spotted and reversed by Westminster Council:


I’d seen one in Brick Lane before. But I didn’t know they were a set and were the work of Clet Abraham, a French artist. There’s an interview with him in the Huffington Post.

The noses proper were the work of Rick Buckley, but because he didn’t out himself at first, stories grew up around them.

English language curiosities

On reading this headline in The Local:

Merkel to meet Putin in January over Ukraine

I wonder whether anyone will shoot them down. However, the earlier headline about the blazing ferry has been improved (Flaming ferry counted 18 German passengers).

In the following, what role was played by Microsoft Word capitalizing words at the beginning of a line?


but maybe the locals can’t read.

On a different subject, there is probably a law against this kind of thing in Germany:



Heston also created his own kind of mince pies, which were OK except they weren’t really mince pies, more like Linzer Torte. They had the tangerine-flavoured sugar too.

Sheep and lamb

Here’s a photo taken earlier this week by my friend in Donzdorf, on the Schwäbische Alb. The shepherdess is carrying a newborn lamb up the hill to the place where the sheep are put in an electric fence. The mother ewe apparently headbutted the sheepdog aggressively. Up the hill, the lamb stood up and began to bounce around.


Even in the middle of Fürth I have seen shepherds and sheep – see earlier post. But I haven’t seen them moving along the roads.


There’s a term in German constitutional law, Gesetzesvorbehalt, literally (reservation/requirement of a statute).

On Legally Yours, Rob Lunn discusses the equivalent Spanish concept. How to translate “reserva de ley” into English (using a descriptive strategy).

In my database I find a suggestion to translate the German term as ‘constitutional requirement of the specific enactment of a statute’ (because secondary legislation is not enough).

It is apparently sometimes translated as ‘legal reservation’ or ‘reservation of law’, which doesn’t convey the meaning at all.

The word Vorbehalt is often a problem. If you translate it as ‘reservation’, you are using a word that’s less usual in legal English than Vorbehalt is in legal German.

I prefer ‘requirement’.

There’s a discussion of the term on LEO (quite useful in parts, but I particularly enjoyed the comment ‘I actually discussed that topic with a common lawyer. He completely ignored that concept’ with its interesting use of ‘ignored’).

I’ve apparently had to translate quite a few words with ‘Vorbehalt’ as part: Änderungsvorbehalt, Beamtenvorbehalt/Funktionsvorbehalt, Eigentumsvorbehalt (reservation/retention of title), Einwilligungsvorbehalt, Erlaubnisvorbehalt, Identitätsvorbehalt, Kontokorrentvorbehalt, Liefervorbehalt, Parlamentsvorbehalt (another term for Gesetzesvorbehalt), Progressionsvorbehalt, and several more.

I can’t quite agree with Rob that this is such a culture-specific term (see Things I learnt from a journo about translating culture-specific terms: (1) Description trumps linguistic solutions), but OK, it is not a concept that applies to UK constitutional law. I would definitely use the definition here, and I might not add the German in brackets.

LATER NOTE: A query on a mailing list relates to Saldohaftungvorbehalt, as in ‘ Eigentumsvorbehalt
Bis zur vollständigen Bezahlungen bleiben alle gelieferten Waren unser Eigentum (Saldohaftungsvorbehalt).’

I would suggest ‘liability for balance’.