Lang & Rahmann Rechtsanwälte Newsletter

I recently received a newsletter from Lang & Rahmann Rechtsanwälte in Düsseldorf. I don’t know how you can get it, but I suspect you write to newsletter@lang-rahmann.de, which is given as the email address to unsubscribe. But in fact the newsletter consists of links to texts on the firm’s website, so if you go straight to the website you can read summaries of a number of recent cases in German, French and English. One of the lawyers at the firm is Dr. Stephan Kettler, who has published bilingual legal dictionaries and is a certified translator and interpreter for English and French. I use his Wörterbuch Gewerblicher Rechtsschutz und Urheberrecht: Englisch-Deutsch / Deutsch-Englisch, 2011 alongside Uexküll (Wörterbuch der Patent- und Markenpraxis). It’s great to have both.
There must have been more than one person working on the English texts. I did wonder about the translation of Schwarzarbeit as black labour, but then I read recently that consideration has been given to having James Bond played by a black actor, so it must be OK.

I see they use Federal Supreme Court for Bundesgerichtshof, which I’ve commented on before. But they always give the German name the first time around, so that is good. They have, I think, an American touch (Sect., docket) and they capitalize Plaintiff, which is not usual in this kind of text. I was also intrigued by the reference to the preponement of a flight – this is apparently well established in Indian English though. I intend to use it myself whenever I can from now on.

The time of day

I was toying with the idea of attending a free webinar by STAR Transit – in fact, I registered. This was the time given, although I didn’t know if they were referring to the time in Germany or the UK:

Dear Participants,

thank you for your interest in the webinar

“You asked, we listened: What’s new in Service Pack 8”

on 18.12.2014 at 16:00 a.m. (GMT +1:00).

We use the webinar software TeamViewer. To watch and listen to the webinar,
you can participate with the speakers of your computer.

To join the webinar, click this link:

Possibly there would be not much new for me, but at all events I was at my desk at 15.30 British time, which would be 16.30 German time, though not a.m. When I clicked the link at 16.00 British time (apparently that is currently GMT) I was informed that the webinar had already ended.

STAR didn’t cast any light on this, but they did say that the webinar has been recorded and will be available soon.

A few internet links

While I’m busy, here are some links to other sites:

1. A short video on translating poetry from German to English tiere zu fragen by Odile Kennel, translated by Anna Crowe, who usually translates from Spanish and Catalan, helped by Katy Derbyshire.

2. John Flood on What is a lawyer? with the help of Dilbert cartoons and linking to Jonathan Goldsmith.

Machines, paralegals, technicians, accountants, consultants even are all engaged in the “practice” of law these days. They may not call themselves lawyers but they do law. The new legal services markets now emerging are signs that the distinctiveness of the lawyer is being eroded.

It might mean that lawyers’ skills are redundant. I think this unlikely. Or it could mean that lawyers’ skills are inadequate to the demands of today’s business and legal markets. If they are inadequate then others invade your turf and take your work. So it’s up to the profession(s) and the academy to (re)produce lawyers/professionals fit for the modern age. And don’t worry about definitions. Hardly anyone cares.

3. Mary Beard on What we get wrong about Lord Elgin (in connection with Amal Clooney’s involvement in trying to get the Elgin Marbles back to Greece).

Now that Amal Clooney has taken up the case, all the old over-simplifications are crawling out again. Personally I hold no brief for Lord Elgin (I have remained uncomfortably “on the fence” on the whole issue for many a year). And it is important to admit that there is an awful lot we dont know about him and his motives (to be honest, it is completely uncertain whether he was looking to save a precious antiquity or looking for some nice decoration for his stately pile, or some combination of the two).

But there are some aspects to the story as it is now told that are simply WRONG.

And here is Jeremy Paxman’s take:

But what would have happened to these sculptures had they stayed in Athens? After all, at the time Lord Elgin helped himself the Parthenon was being used as a fortress. Mary Beard’s excellent short history of the building tells us that for most of the 18th century, Athenians were in the habit of grinding down marble statues to produce lime and used parts of these great classical buildings as rubble for their foundations. Had the ghastly Lord Elgin not plundered his works of arts, they could have ended up in the footings of some kebab stand.

4. Chinese Legal Documents Series (in Chinese and English) (via Chinese Law Prof Blog).

Some links

1. In Court in the act: How many European Courts are there? the IPKAT discusses the confusion:

Confusingly similar — but these folk shouldn’t be confused. The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has emailed the information that a new intellectual property case has been referred to the Court of Justice, but it has got itself into something of a mess as to which Court of Justice it means. After the EU’s judicial institutions were renamed, this weblog, in common with many other people and publications, has practised calling the EU’s Court of Justice the Court of Justice of the European Union, abbreviating it as the CJEU. The UKIPO however prefers to refer to this Court as the European Court of Justice and to abbreviate it as the ECJ.

2. Prof. Dr. Thomas M.J. Möllers of Augsburg University has set up a database of some areas of German and EU commercial law: Daten­bank zum deut­schen und euro­päi­schen Wirt­schafts­recht which looks useful and will be kept updated. Link from Unternehmensrechtliche Notizen, the weblog of Prof. Dr. Ulrich Noack.

3. Angry solicitors
It’s not easy to find a good solicitor, except by recommendation. I was dissatisfied with one firm, but a recommendation to find a further recommendation via the Law Society was not useful. I mean, I knew in advance it wouldn’t be. But I established that firms pay something to be accredited by the Law Society, The Law Society: Find a solicitor you naturally have to pay a fee. So firms with enough work have little incentive to be on that lis (rather like Which’s lists recommending builders and tradesmen, which I’ve also had problems with).

Anyway, The Law Gazette reports that

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has agreed to share its data on solicitors with comparison websites set up by third parties by the end of this year.
The regulator has responded to a call from the Legal Services Consumer Panel to provide more information for online registers of practitioners.
In a letter to the panel, SRA executive director Crispin Passmore said a ‘data extract’ – likely to include the size of the firm and any disciplinary issues in the past – will be in place by Christmas.

Of course, the fact that there have been a large number of complaints against a firm does not mean that these were upheld. I recommend reading the comments under the article:

… I’ll let the moronic comsuner panels and ombudsmen, and touchy-feely “empowerment in legal choices” briage into a secret here [hush]… people pay to be included in a comparison site, it isn’t done out of the goodness of anyone’s heart.
That’s right. Amazing though it may sound, you don’t have to have to be the best to be on the “Bestsest ever solicitors .com” – you just have to set up the monthly direct debit! And who is going to pay a comparison website to publicise their complaints data?
I didn’t even know that the “Chair” of the Legal Services Consumer Panel (£15,000 per year for turning up 30 days a year) has a blog. Now I do know, I still can’t read it, because of the irresistable urge to burn my PC.

Btw, the Chair does have a blog, but she doesn’t know the difference between a blog and a post.

(Via Delia Venables)

Some reading/Etwas zum Lesen

Hamish Hamilton’s Five Dials no. 26 has just come out. It is an elegant PDF and this edition is full of translations of German literature, although the main thing that has caught my eye so far is an article about secret ways to walk through London. 64 pages of good stuff. They apparently expect us to print it out.

For walks from Gatwick, see kalebeul.

Thanks to Ekkehard for reminding me of the free sampler of the new language magazine Babel. I honestly can’t see myself having time to read it, but there is some good stuff in there, for example an article on forensic linguistics by Peter French et al., and everything has suggestions for further reading.

There are good language reads out there already free of charge, of course: but I suppose everyone knows the Translation Journal and the Journal of Specialised Translation.

Many translators have been writing books but I have not had time to read them. I’ve already recommended Fire Ant and Worker Bee’s compilation. At a very very superficial glance I had a good impression of Corinne McKay’s How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator and Nataly Kelly/Jost Zetzsche’s Found in Translation (despite the hype, and despite the fact that I can’t think of anyone I would give it to for Christmas).

And here is an interpreter’s microblog, as Céline describes it. I actually saw this last week without understanding what it was: A good speech a day keeps the doctor away.

Links

1. There has been a long hiatus here, partly because I was away for three weeks and partly because I seem to have been hit by more than one nasty virus. So here are some links to be getting on with:

In die tageszeitung, Katy Derbyshire (as I spell her name) writes (in German) about the lack of English translations of German literature.

Man muss sich das Leben einer der wenigen des Deutschen mächtigen Lektorinnen bei einem dieser Riesenhäuser dagegen als recht frustrierend vorstellen. Wozu sich jeden Tag schick machen und die quälende U-Bahn-Fahrt auf sich nehmen, wenn man doch keine deutschsprachigen Bücher verlegen kann? Anna Kelly arbeitet bei Hamish Hamilton im Hause Penguin. “In den letzten paar Jahren habe ich einige Sachen gelesen, die mich für das begeistert haben, was im Moment auf Deutsch geschrieben wird, die ich aber trotzdem nicht verlegen konnte.” Zum Glück hat Hamish Hamilton längst die Vorzüge des Internets für sich entdeckt und gibt eine Online-Literaturzeitschrift heraus. Am 3. Dezember kommt Anna Kellys Baby: eine Sonderausgabe von Five Dials mit 13 deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsautoren, von Juli Zeh bis Ulrike Almut Sandig. “Das ist ein Weg für mich, einige dieser starken Stimmen mit der Welt zu teilen. Zahlreiche Autoren schreiben gerade wunderbare Sachen auf Deutsch, aber diese Ausgabe kann nicht mehr als eine Handvoll davon zeigen.” Hoffen wir, dass ihre Begeisterung ansteckend wirkt.

2. The People’s Daily was fooled by an article in The Onion which described Kim Jong-Un as ‘the sexiest man alive’, according to the Economist’s Analects blog:

SOMETIMES China flexes its soft power without really having any idea it has done so. That appears to be what happened on November 27th when the People’s Daily Online, a website of the Communist Party’s English-language mouthpiece, republished an article by the Onion, a satirical version of an American newspaper, declaring North Korea’s Kim Jong Un the “Sexiest Man Alive”. The republication, complete with a gallery of 55 photographs of the North Korean dictator at work and play, quickly became an internet sensation.

.

..“He has that rare ability to somehow be completely adorable and completely macho at the same time,” Onion Style and Entertainment editor Marissa Blake-Zweibel said. “And that’s the quality that makes him the sort of man women want, and men want to be. He’s a real hunk with real intensity who also knows how to cut loose and let his hair down.”

3. At Ü wie Übersetzen, (in German) Lisa John explains in detail how to download and use the new set of translation memories from the EU translation corpus (if I can correctly so describe it).

And there too, if you missed it: Lisa has often tried to improve the German Wikipedia entries on CAT tools for translators and there is a German Wikipedia ‘editor’ who keeps removing descriptions of programs. I’ve seen this extreme example cited in a mailing list as an argument why one should not pay money to support Wikipedia. Here is the latest blog post on this topic .

Delia Venables on legal resources/Delia Venables: UK-Recht im Internet

Delia Venables, who I’ve recommended before, was one of the earliest sources of internet information on law in the UK. Her website on legal resources for the UK and Ireland would take a long time to click around. I usually look at the information for lawyers, in particular newspapers and journals and the best new sites on the legal web.

She has recently made her newsletter for lawyers free to access online, although for the printed or pdf version there is still a subscription. The November/December 2012 issue includes the following topics:

* Nick Holmes provides an essential guide to eBooks – options, formats, devices, readers and digital rights management.
* Peter Garsden of Abney Garsden McDonald reviews the success of going paperless. It took over 7 years but it’s worth it in the end.
* Nigel Miller of Fox Williams provides 10 top tips for securing and managing domain names. Domain names are the basis of ecommerce.
* Barrister Amanda Millmore reviews the use of social media in the legal system – by police, as evidence, and in the community.
* Tom Hiskey describes his move from practice as a solicitor to running a legal technology startup company called “The Law Wizard”
* Sue Bramall of Berners Marketing compares the relative effectiveness of blogs and news sections. Which are best?
* Patti Havers describes the history of the Havers Directory and the new look, and new facilities of “Havers – Defining the Bar”.

There is a great deal of information on the site of interest not only to lawyers.

Signing off on emails/Wie unterschreibe ich eine E-Mail?

Diamond Geezer has a great post on how to start and end an email, with 44 comments at present. It starts Hi Reader and ends Many thanks dg.
I think this shows that there is no easy answer to how to address people in both formal and informal emails.
I hope this post doesn’t come across as prescriptive, because I have great doubts about all forms of address and closing.
In German, the problem is just as great.

First, in letters (British English only):
Dear Sir or Madam … Yours faithfully
Dear Mr. Smith /Dear John … Yours sincerely

In the law firm I worked in, we had this closing for clients:
Kind regards

In formal emails, you might start
Dear…
And close:
Best regards
Kind regards

Is this right? I rarely write formal emails in English and I have been known to close
Yours sincerely

which may be a no-no in email.

Now the emails to friends, acquaintances and forums.
I usually start:
Hi
Some write
Hello

To a forum, I often start without a greeting.

To close, I usually write
Regards
Some write
Kind regards
Best regards

which seem awfully formal to me.
Then there are
Cheers
and if one wants an answer
Thanks
Many thanks
TIA
MTIA
Best wishes

I particularly liked dg’s comments on Take care.

Take care. Whereas this one’s not so good. It may be only eight letters long, but there’s an unspoken hint within that something terrible is about to take place. You might as well end your email with “Watch out!” instead. It’s much too negative for me, and I’d hope for you too.

But I suspect that Take care is more common among Americans.

Now about German. First, formal.
A potential new client might write:
Sehr geehrte Frau Marks … mit freundlichen Grüßen /freundlichen Gruß
or
Hallo Frau Marks
Guten Tag Frau Marks

This is less formal and might come from the secretary of a client one already knows.
After some time, the client might want to be more friendly:
Liebe Frau Marks
Hallo Frau Marks /Guten Tag Frau Marks

Beste Grüße
Herzliche Grüße
Viele Grüße

Not everyone likes Viele Grüße, but I quite like it, and in any case I follow the client’s lead.
Non-Germans should note that the ß character has not been abolished – Gruß/Grüße and Straße are the most common pitfalls (except in Switzerland, of course).

Now in German to friends, acquaintances and forums.
I do have a difficulty here, because I have found German forums more formal than American and British ones. Maybe that’s because I was on CompuServe much earlier than on German forums and they seemed slower to relax. I have had my knuckles rapped and been thought to be intentionally rude for writing to a forum without a greeting. This was obviously an offence against German netiquette. I don’t know if that is the case any more, but I have an uncomfortable feeling when I write to a German forum.
So some write
Liebes Forum
Liebe Mitglieder

or some variation on the forum’s name.
Otherwise it’s down to
Hallo
Moin
I don’t feel northern enough to use Moin (which is not limited to the morning)
I usually close with
Gruß
but always feeling it is a bit abrupt.
I have not got used to the increasingly common
Liebe Grüße
which feels overfriendly to me but is possibly becoming standard.
I have just checked my inbox and found one
Schöne Grüße
and one
Mit kollegialen Grüßen
(this reminds me a bit of Mit sozialistischem Gruß in Goodbye Lenin).
It’s also, I remember, fairly common to mention the weather in one’s location:
Mit verregneten Grüßen aus Köln
Mit sonnigen Grüßen aus München

or if one wants a reply to a question
Neugierige Grüße
Is this done in English? I certainly avoid it.

LATER NOTE:
It’s been pointed out by a commenter that MfG is a bit of a no-no, especially in formal correspondence.
That reminds me of some abbreviations widespread in informal contexts. Thnx rather irritated me because it’s scarcely shorter than Thanks.

Lawyers among themselves use Mit kollegialen Grüßen (see comment). I sometimes have to translate this into English, and the equivalent is just Yours sincerely or Best/Kind Regards. There’s a lovely heated discussion on this on the LEO forum.

And I forgot to mention the direct address I often use on forums: just the name of the person addressed, without any ‘Dear’.

MOOC free online course on crowdsourced translation – English/Spanish

I am not really into crowdsourced translation, but it appears that the Open University in the UK is about to run a MOOC, a Massive Open Online Course on Open Translation tools and practices.

There’s more information here, including a video. The pilot runs from 15th October to 7 December 2012 (8 weeks), with the accompanying course website opening on Oct 10th 2012.

The project is aimed at speakers of English or Spanish who are also proficient in Spanish or English (level B2 or above of the CEFR). You might be a language learner, a translation student, or simply looking to develop your translation skills. The project will provide the following opportunities:

Introduce learners to open translation tools and generic translation skills, developing useful employability skills in a global context;
Promote plurilingualism and intercultural communication;
Promote the internationalisation of the student experience;
Introduce learners to real-world translation tasks for volunteer translators in well-established community translation projects (e.g. Wikipedia, TED talks, Global Voices);
Develop translation skills in subject specific domains (maths, education) through translating OpenLearn content (http://www.open.edu/openlearn/).

Not awfully good online translation/”Übersetzung” online

1. This is really about legal translation – on fucked translation, kalebeul has done the work on describing the Spanish Facebook translation of civil union (civil partnership) as a homosexual union, thus excluding the heterosexual variant. Here’s the original Lexicool post. (Germany has a Lebenspartnerschaftsgesetz, and the parties are known as Lebenspartner).

2. This is interesting: machine translation, such as Google Translate, can be helpful in giving the gist of a web page. But what do people think when they read such gibberish without explanation? Here is an IKEA Hack in gibberish: Portable drawer … a box of second growth … This seems to have caused no unrest – of course, the photos help. The list of products is almost correct. Second growth seems to mean resurrection. This sounds a bit disgusting, though:

I just painted, I set the rear side, standing in the rolled up in my wrapping paper.

This is puzzling too – the original (Hungarian) must have meant something:

Here it is important enough for accurate measurement….(this is unfortunately the experience of my sentence:))