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A few links


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Interesting interview (in German) with Katy Derbyshire on translating Clemens Meyer Im Stein (Bricks and Mortar) Ich würde mir wünschen, dass die Literatur die Welt verbessern kann. The novel is actually on my bookshelves but I haven’t started it yet. It’s about the development of prostitution in an East German town after reunification.

The author and translator are apparently giving a talk at Senate House on May 11, from which I discover that there is a

GLGN – Greater London German Network.

The GLGN is part of the think german initiative of regional networks spearheaded by the German Embassy.
The aim of the network is to fight the corner for all things German in the Greater London area by bringing together all those people in and around London who have an interest in the German language and related cultures and facilitating both real and virtual communication between them.

They are on Facebook and Twitter too. Who knew? It claims I am following it on Twitter – must be linked to GSSN, the German Screen Studies Network, which I do follow.

The Institute of Modern Languages Research is now in Senate House, as I realized recently when reading a history of German studies in London called Glanz und Abglanz.

German restaurants in London.

Disturbing: German Village and Bierfest at Mile End.

Now when days get longer and the sun comes out again it’s time for the German Village Festival. Sit outside in our Garden and get the vipe together with friends or family and enjoy a bratwurst or maybe one of our 3 different special brewed Bavarian beers. In addition you can visit our FunTime area or get your self a Heidi wig in the special German souvenier house. In the evening you should join our party in the Bavarian FestTent – grap your Lederhosen or Dirndl and become part of the biggest party!

Heidi wigs also widely available online.


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Posted in books, Germany, internet
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Gerald Graham – obituary


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Some of our teachers of German in London were Jewish emigrés (I suppose that’s what we called immigrants then). For instance, I first learnt German at school from a Fräulein (Ruth) Hoeniger, who must have had a stroke a couple of years after I started and so I did not know her for long. I wasn’t even sure she was Jewish, but research indicated she was, and was born in Berlin and taught at schools in Leipzig in the 1930s. I wondered if she was related to the Johann Hoeniger who designed one of the Berlin synagogues, but was unable to confirm that. At university, one of our teachers was Dr. Ilse Graham. I did not know that her husband was a cardiologist at Great Ormond Street hospital, but here is an obituary of him in The Guardian. There are also memoirs online, Scattered Leaves, with photos, typed up by his son at dictation (I got that from a comment on The Times obituary). He was 98 when he died this year.

Having initially as a child wanted to study dentistry, at the age of about 10 I decided that this would be too limiting. I thought I should study medicine. At the age of about 16, when I first went to England, my parents gave me a book by an Ernst Scharrer, called The Brain. I had carried this with me for years and, much later in my story, when studying at Western Reserve, I had a Professor of Anatomy, by the name of Hoerr – and then a new person joined the staff, by the name of Scharrer! The penny dropped that this must be the same person who wrote my precious book. After his first lecture – he was an outstanding teacher, who would draw his complex diagrams with both hands), I went up to him and asked him if he was indeed the author of that book. He was amazed and asked how I knew of it – and then asked me to bring it in, which I did. At which point, he examined it closely and then said: “As far as I know, this is the only copy of my book in existence”.
What had happened was that he had just been appointed head of a major neuroscience institute in Frankfurt, recognized to be a very brilliant man. They were not Jewish, but as Hitler grew in power, they decided that they didn’t want to carry on living in Germany and emigrated to the United States, ending up as an Assistant Professor at Western Reserve. But because of the way they left – pretending to go on holiday and not wanting to take possessions such as his book, which might give the game away – he was not able to bring a copy with him. Meanwhile, the Nazis, because of the way he left, destroyed all of his books.

Gerald Graham, born Gerd Greiffenhagen, tells his eventful life story lightly. He emigrated first to England, then to the USA with his parents, and then to the UK again, in the McCarthy era.
Emigrating didn’t solve everyone’s problems:

When war first broke out on 1st September 1939, very little happened for a while. It was called the Phony War. During this period, the British Government found itself with several thousand German Jews about whom it knew little. How could it be sure they were not Nazi informers? It decided to intern the lot. They were in fact legitimate Jews, including professors and musicians. Some were sent to the Isle of Man and others to Canada and Australia. Ernie, who had volunteered to join the British Army, but was interned instead, was sent to Australia on a small ship. The “Dunera”, embarked on 10 July 1940, with 2,542 detainees, all classified as “enemy aliens,”. They included 200 Italian and 251 German prisoners of war, as well as several dozen Nazi sympathizers, along with 2,036 anti-Nazis, most of them Jewish refugees. The British crew of the ship understood nothing of the politics and circumstances of the Jewish group and, when the Nazis started to fight with the Jews on board, the crew took the side of the Nazis. They had terrible fights over about six weeks on a daily basis. As well as being dangerous, it was of course incredibly upsetting to have escaped to England and then to be placed at the mercy of those they had escaped from. Ilse remembered the case of one aged Jewish professor, whose manuscript – his life’s work – was thrown into the sea with a laugh by British crew members. The moment they got to Australia, telegrams were sent and it became known to the authorities what had happened and there was a debate in Parliament about it, with the Government fiercely attacked for allowing such a thing to happen. Steps were taken to have the Jews sent back to England.

I should also recommend Judith Kerr’s three-book autobiography, starting with When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.

(With thanks to Professor John Flood – not the only one I know)


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Nettles


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Rainham Marshes


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Die badische Aktenheftung


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Strafakte.de reports on die badische Aktenheftung as something historical. I have heard about this before and I suspect it’s still partially alive. In Baden, a special method of binding documents and bundles of documents has been in use since at least 1801 and they are sticking to it. Some more in Wikipedia, and more pictures. You need a special hole punch and also a bodkin/bodger to create tiny holes.


Von Hungchaka – Eigenes Werk, CC BY 3.0,

There was a famous case in 1970 when the court in Baden tried to refuse files returned from Cologne without the right binding.

At the bottom of this page you can see three types of binding:
Württembergische Büschel (rechts), badische Oberrandheftung (oben links) und preußische Fadenheftung (unten links)

Württemberg pink, Baden orange and Prussia buff (Prussia used to cover a lot of Germany).

This made me think how many local peculiarities live on in various parts of Germany – when you learn about the law you would think a lot of it is uniform. And 1801 or earlier does somewhat predate the existence of Germany as a country.

When I was training I learnt how to sew documents using green tape. These things are so much harder to photocopy that I wonder how often it is still done. But you can find information online so it is not quite dead yet.

Sewing together a legal document, from the Legal Secretary Journal.

A YouTube video in which Maria shows how to bind legal documents – interestingly classified as Comedy.


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Frankfurt eyes London’s commercial litigation crown


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An article in the Solicitors Journal:
Frankfurt eyes London’s commercial litigation crown
Brexit uncertainty, an underfunded civil justice system, and a less diverse judiciary are causes for concern, by John van der Luit-Drummond

The article reports that ‘moves are afoot to dethrone London as the preeminent dispute resolution hub.’ We’ve been here before – attempts to set up English-language courts in Germany were linked to a German campaign to sell German courts to international litigants. But Brexit was not part of the mix then. It is reported in the SJ earlier:

The Rolls Building is to be rebranded the ‘Business and Property Courts of England and Wales’ from June of this year in a move to shore up the jurisdiction’s reputation post-Brexit and to enhance the connection between the regions and the capital.

(Here’s the Rolls Building.)

On 30 March, ‘Justice Initiative Frankfurt’ was presented to German lawyers, judges, and business leaders with one aim: to attract more financial disputes to Frankfurt at the expense of London. The initiative launched by law professors Burkhard Hess, Thomas Pfeiffer, Christian Duve, a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Roman Poseck, the president of the Frankfurt Court of Appeal, is backed by the federal state of Hessen’s minister for justice, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, and will look to take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s legal services market post-Brexit.

The link to Justice Initiative Frankfurt is to an English translation of the position paper.

The SJ has a Simmons & Simmons partner, Ed Crosse, who thinks English courts will continue to be preferred internationally.

‘When designing new procedures, the Frankfurt courts, like many others such as the Singapore International Commercial Court, will undoubtedly select what they perceive to be the most attractive procedures used by other jurisdictions and avoid those that are receiving criticism,’ explains Crosse. ‘We cannot be complacent about such matters.’

I have no idea how flexible the Frankfurt courts can be in choosing their procedures. The position paper quotes the German Code of Civil Procedure in the ‘official’ version not always popular with me.

There’s something about this on a blog new to me but which I intend to follow, Dispute Resolution Germany, by Peter Bert. He wrote about the subject on March 15 but perhaps he will return to it:

As much as I would like to see more banking litigation moving to Frankfurt, in my opinion, one very important factor will be the governing law: Unless the underlying contracts and financial instruments are governed by German law, it will make little sense to agree on Frankfurt as the venue. Parties, on the other hand, will only agree on German law if they have confidence in the courts. In my opinion, an effort must be made to align Justizinitiative Frankfurt, the Law Made in Germany project and the English language in German courts legislative initiative. So let’s see what is going to be proposed on March 30, 2017.


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Herlinde Koelbl


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Herlinde Koelbl: photos of Angela Merkel over the years.

There is also Pantone Merkel by Noortje van Eekelen:

See also Andreas Gursky’s painting of the four chancellors.

LATER NOTE: An article in The Guardian showing some of the Herlinde Koelbl photos.

EVEN LATER NOTE: There is also an Instagram account called merkellooks, collecting all kinds of images of Merkel.


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The Oxford comma


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Why do US American sources refer to the Oxford comma (also known as the serial comma)? My old copy of the Chicago Style Manual doesn’t call it that. It’s the standard thing in the USA. In the UK, the Oxford University Press famously differs from the many in permitting -ize as well as -ise (subject of another rant since someone in the EU has decided it must always be -ise) and in supporting the use of the serial comma.

Court cases about punctuation are always fun. The latest one was in the USA and concerns the following text:

(Overtime rules do not apply to:)
The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

(1) Agricultural produce;

(2) Meat and fish products; and

(3) Perishable foods.

Should it be packing for shipment or distribution, or packing for shipment, or distribution? that is, does it refer to distribution, or just to two kinds of packing?

The New York Times reports:
Lack of Oxford Comma Could Cost Maine Company Millions in Overtime Dispute

It refers to the Maine Legislative Drafting Manual, which says this about commas:

Commas are probably the most misused and misunderstood punctuation marks in legal
drafting and, perhaps, the English language. Use them thoughtfully and sparingly.

A. Series. Although authorities on punctuation may differ, when drafting Maine law or rules, don’t use a comma between the penultimate and the last item of a series.

Do not write:
Trailers, semitrailers, and pole trailers
Write: Trailers, semitrailers and pole trailers

The Maine Legislative Drafting Manual does not call it the Oxford comma. What British person has been influencing the US media this week?

LATER NOTE: Lynne Murphy says ‘Oxford comma’ is the more common term in USA and there is a song by Vampire Weekend, ‘Oxford Comma’. Wikipedia has more:

On January 28, 2008, Michael Hogan of Vanity Fair interviewed Ezra Koenig regarding the title of the song and its relevance to the song’s meaning. Koenig said he first encountered the Oxford comma (a comma used before the conjunction at the end of a list) after learning of a Columbia University Facebook group called Students for the Preservation of the Oxford Comma. The idea for the song came several months later while Koenig was sitting at a piano in his parents’ house. He began “writing the song and the first thing that came out was ‘Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?'” He stated that the song “is more about not giving a fuck than about Oxford commas.”

It looks to me, but what do I know, as if the term was taken up because it seemed weird. Lynne says (on Twitter) that the Chicago Manual would not call it the Oxford comma because OUP is a rival publisher. I’m not now going to research how long the term has been used in the USA because it is very low on my list of things to do.

LATER STILL NOTE:

I see I actually posted about this song in 2010.


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Caucasian and other wingnuts


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This is a Caucasian wingnut tree in the square above Smithfield Car Park, taken in July 2015.

The urban dictionary lists six other meanings. This explains why I did not understand a tweet referring to ‘American wingnut welfare’ today.


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Cold War Defence Boom, Shoeburyness


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Cold War Defence Boom, Shoeburyness.

Time for another local photo. This has been keeping Russian nuclear submarines away since 1944, touch wood. Even its predecessor only suffered from friendly fire. I suppose there is a difference between Pig’s Bay and the Bay of Pigs.


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Thormann/Hausbrandt: Rechtssprache – book on legal German


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Isabelle Thormann and Jana Hausbrandt, Rechtssprache – klar und verständlich für Dolmetscher, Übersetzer, Germanisten und andere Nichtjuristen, BDÜ Fachverlag 2016 – 446 pp. plus keyword index

Let me start by saying that this is a very full and thorough book with a variety of contents and I think anyone dealing with legal German will like to have it. It is intended for those who know nothing about legal German, so experienced legal translators will not need it, perhaps unless like me they are interested in how legal German is taught and explained. The authors have been running seminars on legal German for several years now, so they know what problems non-lawyers have in practice. (The BDÜ runs webinars on the subject by the authors too).

If you are a BDÜ member, you can consult and search online a library of all the books you bought from this publisher (provided the authors agreed to electronic searchng, including this one, together with past issues of MDÜ. I don’t know if it works for non-BDÜ members. I don’t think you will want to use the book as a dictionary – it would make more sense to work through it first – but electronic searching is very useful.

1. Who is it for?
The authors describe the book as both a reference work and a textbook, and they say it is ‘also’ suitable to prepare for the exam ‘Nachweis grundlegender Kenntnisse der deutschen Rechtssprache’, which many German Länder require court interpreters and translators to pass. In Bavaria the equivalent is or was part of the exam for court interpreters and translators called ‘Gerichts- und Behördenterminologie’. In that connection there is another book from that publisher:
Arbeitsbuch zur Gerichts- und Behördenterminologie, Auflage 2013
Autor: Ulrich Daum, Ramón Hansmeyer

The fact is that in order to pass an exam in Bavaria to be a court interpreter or translator, you do not have to choose law as your main subject, so there are a lot of candidates who ought to know something about legal German and fortunately training in this is increasing. So the legal German in these books is not the language of contracts or intellectual property or even judgments. But it’s still useful stuff.

But the subtitle adds ‘Germanists and other non-lawyers’. And parts of the book are said to be particularly suitable for those with German as a foreign language:

DaF-Extras
Dieses Buch enthält Hinweise und Teile (z.B. das Kapital “Komische Wörter und Ausdrücke”), die besonders für solche Dolmetscher, Übersetzer und Jurastudenten konzipiert wurden, die Deutsch nicht als Muttersprache, sondern als Fremdsprache gelernt haben.

Does anyone else find this ‘komische Wörter’ a bit condescending? Let’s look at them. First comes a long section of words with a different meaning, like anklagen vs. verklagen vs. einklagen, or bestandskräftig vs. rechtskräftig, then come Vertraute Wörter mit anderer Bedeutung, Fachausdrücke der Rechtssprache, Lexikalische Besonderheiten der Verwaltungssprache and at last Komische Wörter und Ausdrücke. I’m not sure why a non-native speaker should be more surprised than a native speaker by abbedingen or einer Sache keinen Abbruch tun. But anyway, I’m quibbling – the contents of the book are very useful.

2. What’s in it?
You can find details of the book here, together with a PDF sample – click on Leseprobe. I would recommend downloading this as it has a full table of contents and you can see how very full it is. The aditional material alone is very useful, closing with police grades, occupations at court, and much else.
The main parts are 1. Characteristics of legal language (about 200 pages), 2 Legal terminology – actually an introduction to law (about 160 pages) and 3 – Appendix – Additional information and solutions to the exercises.

3. Exercises
There are execises, which seem to crop up rather unexpectedly (to me) in the first part. Thus for example:

Umwandlung eines Relativsatzes in eine Linksattribution.
Formulieren Sie die folgenden Sätze so um, dass der Relativsatz in Form einer Linksattribution ausgedrückt wird.
1. Die Verzögerung, die im November 2015 auf Grund der Klagebegründung entstand, war etwas anders als von Ihnen in Ihrem Schreiben dargestellt zustande gekommen.
Solution:
Die im November 2015 auf Grund der Klagebegründung entstandene Verzögerung war etwas anders als von Ihnen in Ihrem Schreiben dargesellt zustande gekommen.

I’m not sure what the point of these exercises is, but it looks as if the authors want to encourage more comprehensible legal language, perhaps even plain German, which includes converting sentences back and forth. The exercises probably useful to get a feel for legal German, although I wouldn’t have the patience to do 18 of them. I admit this kind of exercise was always very appealing to me as a teacher (I remember a set of sentences on hereinbefore and so on that caused a lot of problems).

At the very end of the book there are 130 questions testing understanding or memory of the text.

4. German legal language

The first part of the book deals with the characteristics of legal German, starting with sentence patterns and continuing inter alia with prepositions, tenses and
At all events, the first 200 pages of the book give a very detailed analysis of legal German which is also clearly set out and comprehensible. I could learn from them myself. They might also form the basis for a comparative analysis of how to translate legal German into English, whether that was legalese or the kind of less heavy English that some jobs need.

5. Lists of legal terms

Still in Part 1, there are long lists of legal terms, in a number of categories:
Bedeutungsunterschiede: over 40 examples, mainly pairs of words such as Anerkenntnis vs. Geständnis, anhängig vs. rechtshängig, Erbe vs. Vermächtnis. Many of the terms are dealt with in a bit more detail later in the book.
Vertraute Wörter mit anderer Bedeutung
Fachausdrücke der Rechtssprache: ‘Diese Ausdrücke sollten Sie kennen’. A long list with definitions, starting with abdingbar, abgängig, Adhäsionsverfahren, ahnden, Akt, aktenkundig.
Komische Wörter und Ausdrücke: “mit Verlaub”, abbedingen, Abbruch, Abkömmling, Absehen, absprechen and so on.
Stilebenen, Register, Soziolekt: colloquial expressions contrasted with legalese, e.g. Adresse/Anschrift, ansehen/in Augenschein nehmen.

6. Legal terms in the context of an introduction to German law
A nice introduction to the elements of German law, both substantive and procedural. There are also lists of abbreviations and Latin expressions.

At the back, following the final exercise, there is a brief bibliography and also a list of internet links.

That concludes a summary of most of the book. Again, look at the table of contents on the website linked above for a full impression.

One problem of a book like this is searching in it. It does have an index of the keywords at the back, fortunately. Not every word given special treatment counts as a keyword, though. The ‘komische Wörter’ for us foreigners are not included in the index.

As a final comment I have some difficulty in using the definitions of words. But I am not the intended audience for the book. I would be more inclined to go to a statute or to Creifelds or anywhere else I could find a serious legal definition meant for lawyers. But this would not be possible for many of the words dealt with. German general dictionaries exclude legalese (Fachsprache) so we translators are quite dependent on the help of colleagues. Take the word nachlassen in the sense of ‘permit’, for which see Corinna Schlüter-Ellner (below). The bibliography also contains other books that may be helpful; in addition to the volume by Ulrich Daum mentioned above I would add:

Schlüter-Ellner, Corinna: Juristendeutsch verständlich gemacht. Treffende Verben in der deutschen Rechtssprache (same publisher; the book comprises two sections and is not restricted to court vocabulary)
Simon, Heike and Funk-Baker, Gesela: Einführung in das deutsche Recht und die deutsche Rechtssprache


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