Translation blogs

I mentioned translation blogs on April 15 and intended to follow it up, but every time I wrote about translation blogs I got bogged down.

Luke Spear had collated a list of translation-related blogs, not so rare now as they were in 2003. 

75+ of the best translation, language and linguistics blogs to follow

This list dates from April 9 2020 and has links to every blog mentioned. In most cases, you need to click on the links to see what the blogs are about. Quite an achievement! Luke asks if there are more blogs that could bring the total up to 100. And he wonders if people are blogging less.

The blogs listed are in English – I follow some in German and they would not be of interest to a FR>EN translator.

But now, Nikki Graham has updated her own blogroll, comprising 350 blogs, mainly about translation but some about interpreting, editing and so on.

Not only is it a huge list, but there are asterisks marking which blogs have actually had a post in 2020 (up to 21 May, which is today). The blog names are coloured according to which language some posts are in – most are in English.

You’ll find over 350 blogs listed on this page. Although most are about translation, I’ve also added some on interpreting and some non-translation blogs related to grammar, writing and editing. ..

Although this list started out based on blogs in languages I can understand (English, Spanish and German), I’m quite happy to add colleagues’ recommendations in other languages too.

When I started, in 2003 blogs played a different role. I was lucky enough to be a member of the FLEFO forum on CompuServe, which was the main way translators exchanged information in those days. Nowadays it is easier to pick up quick information on Twitter. Facebook is also an important resource, but I don’t use it for translator links. Journals are often online too, and mailing lists still work very well (I remember when discussions of terminology on lists would call forth complaints that we were wasting bandwidth). 

My own blog has moved through three different software systems – losing some formatting in the earliest posts – but I’ve tried to keep the content. Old links no longer work.

I also used to use Google’s feed reader. Now I use Feedly (free version), which may be more flexible in the paid version. I have a huge number of feeds but many have not posted for years.I have not only translation blogs, but also blogs on law and food, and other miscellaneous topics. I still follow Language Log and languagehat. I’ve got a blogroll and linkroll if you scroll down to the bottom but I can’t guarantee that the blogs are still alive or the links work.

When I started, there were only a few blogs by translators. I mainly followed lawyers, in Germany, the UK and the USA. Translators included Céline Graciet, whose blog was originally called The Naked Translator (the URL is still that); Michael Wahlster with Translate This and others.

I do follow London’s Singing Organ-Grinder, as it is now called, but its language content fluctuates greatly.

Blogs tend to run actively for a few years and then quieten down (like this one) so I tend to follow a few active ones.

The blog I and many others were most curious about was by The Masked Translator, whose identity I never discovered.

Blog birthday in lockdown

Today is the 17th birthday of this blog, started on 15 April 2003, when it seemed obscure to have a weblog with such a narrow focus. Some other blogs of that time still exist.

We are currently in lockdown.

Machine translation

Meanwhile, a thought about machine translation. There is a lot more to be said about this, especially DeepL in connection with legal translation. One thing that strikes me is that in the old days, one might adapt machine translation systems to allow for context. But if you go to the WHO site and allow it to translate into German using Google Translate, you get a map of Turkey labelled Truthahn. Context is not taken into account here!

By the way, do people pronounce WHO double-u aitch oh? I usually say World Health Organization. But I heard someone on radio callilng it The Who recently, which I liked.

Screenshot:

Translation blogs

Luke Spear has chosen this auspicious occasion to collate a list of translation-related blogs, not so rare now as they were in 2003.

75+ of the best translation, language and linguistics blogs to follow

This list dates from April 9 2020 and has links to every blog mentioned. In most cases, you need to click on the links to see what the blogs are about. Quite an achievement! Luke asks if there are more blogs that could bring the total up to 100. Abd he wonders if people are blogging less.

Biut more about that in another post.

Does Facebook speak German?

The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) had to decide whether German documents served on Facebook in Ireland had to be in English, the local language. Facebook refused to accept documents. The court decided that although an individual who could not speak German might have been able to require a translation, a big company like Facebook certainly had employees who could handle German law and indeed it had a German-language website.

Decision in German.

There is an excellent blog post on the case in English on Peter Bert’s weblog Dispute Resolution in Germany. I don’t think I’ve seen this blog before and it’s very interesting.

Back in December 2019, the headline to my post on that very topic still had a question mark: “Does Facebook speak German?” I had reported on what appeared to be only the second decision by a German court of appeals (Oberlandesgericht) on the issue whether Facebook Ireland, the legal entity operating Facebook’s German activities, is entitled to refuse service of German-language court documents under Article 8 of the European Service Regulation.*

I concluded by saying that the Munich order contributed to what German lawyers love to refer to as “prevailing jurisprudence” (herrschende Rechtsprechung) or “prevailing opinion” (herrschende Meinung): Facebook does understand German. This recent decision of the Court of Appeals in Düsseldorf does confirm this conclusion: The headline of the court’s press release yesterday read “Facebook kann Deutsch” – Facebook does speak German. The court held in a ruling concerning a cost application that Facebook cannot insist on a translation of German documents into English.

I want to comment on some of the terminology choices made here. The first one is to translate Beschluss as order. This is common and I have certainly had to do it in the past because a client insisted. Here is a definition from Juraforum:

Der Beschluss ist zu unterscheiden von anderen gerichtlichen Entscheidungen, zu denen das Urteil und die Verfügung zählen. Er ist vor allem dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass er keinen Tatbestand (Sachverhalt) und keine Entscheidungsgründe enthält. Somit beinhaltet er nur den Tenor der Entscheidung und ist daher in der Praxis bei Richtern sehr beliebt.

To my mind a Beschluss is a decision or ruling. It is a kind of decision. It does not set out the facts or give the reasons for the decision but just contains the operative part of the decision. I don’t think that can be conveyed in one word in English, and the context is not usually such that a detailed definition is needed. Maybe there is some usage of order in English that I have missed?

Another point I would simply disagree with is the use of jurisprudence for Rechtsprechung. Rechtsprechung means court decisions or case law. Jurisprudence means legal theory. I think that to refer to case law as jurisprudence is a gallicism.

Rebecca Jowers ES>EN legal translation blog

I’m a bit late to recommend Rebecca Jowers because I don’t so often look at Spanish/English legal resources. But I have noticed that she is authoritative in advising on British as well as US usage.

An introduction: Why this blog? is the first post

I created this blog to share some of the translation pitfalls that I’ve encountered along the way, many of which were brought to my attention by fellow translators, my students of legal English, and law professors, attorneys, judges and other translation clients. It is intended to be a meeting place for translators, interpreters, lawyers and law professors for whom legal terminology is an essential element of their professional activities in both languages. Thus I welcome comments and suggestions from the many experienced colleagues in the profession who, as I am, are enthusiastically devoted to the study of Spanish-English legal terminology. Some of the areas I will be exploring include:
ES-EN legal terminology
Legal English for Spanish-speakers
False friends
Multiple meanings
Confusing terms
Common words with uncommon legal meanings
Expressing civil law concepts in common law terms
Español jurídico
Latinismos
Mistranslations? and
Terminology sources

The blog is called Léxico Jurídico Español-Inglés.


Rebecca has also published A Thematic Lexicon:ñhere is a review by Rob Lunn, whose blog I’ve also recommended in the past.

Translation blogging

I think this year I will probably ignore this blog’s birthday (early April, 15?). When I started there were a few translation blogs, although probably no other legal translation blogs. I thought that after I stopped teaching legal translation, I still had a lot of things to say about it. But nowadays I am more likely to post interesting links to Twitter. Goodness knows how many I am missing.

A websearch brings up a lot of posts on ‘Best translation blogs’. I am fond of this description of mine:

  • Transblawg is dedicated to German-English legal translation. The posts, written by Werner Patels, are full of humor and entertainment, which makes his blog fun and quite useful at the same time. It offers help and information to translators on a variety of topics and specializations.

This should teach me not to be so full of myself.

Here’s a new legal translation blog: Language with a Pinch of Law.

Like many, it’s the offshoot of a legal translation firm. It’s run by Paula Arturo and its languages are US English and Spanish (Argentina) and Portuguese (Brazil). There is an active Twitter feed too. It goes into US legal usage quite a lot (often quoting  Ken Adams or Bryan Garner (Black’s Law Dictionary)). There is also apparently a Facebook group called Legal Writing and Translation, (‘For those who passionately pursue linguistic excellence’), but I haven’t investigated it. The main emphasis of the blog is probably translating US contracts (common law) into Spanish (civil law).

Nikki Graham in her Tranix blog (My words for a change) started a translation and interpreting BLOG survey in January of this year, and she has now published a first post on the results: Blogging is not dead.

She had 190 responses. One finding was that over 84% of those replying do read blogs (but then why would they fill in a survey about blogging if they didn’t?). The next question: is blogging good for your business? The majority did not think so.

I had a problem with that question because I did not create this blog directly to be good for my business, although it might appeal to other translators, and if legal translation is not their special field they might recommend me to their clients. But then again I seem to have enough work.

There are a lot of quotes from survey answers. There is to be a second part:

In part 2 of the survey results, we’ll look at the reasons why people do and don’t blog.

I will be interested in that. When I started this blog, the world of advertising yourself as a translator was very different.

From another blog: Martin Crellin, in false friends, good and bad translation, posts on becoming a German. He writes in German, despite the English title. I was amused to read that one of the places he had to apply to asked for a handwritten c.v. – although he found out later he could have done it on the computer. I remember handwritten cvs!

Jurtrans blog

In connection with the Words to Deeds Conference 2017 I discovered a legal translation blog by John O’Shea, who does Greek to English translation. The latest post lists upcoming legal translation conferences, of which there are a few:
Round-up of forthcoming legal translation events
There are interesting links on the site too.

Also a fuller report on the conference by Jennifer Whitely on her blog Lakesidelinguist’s Blog. This probably does not refer to our local Lakeside Thurrock though:
Reflections on theWords to Deed Conference #W2D2017

LAWnLinguistics blog on corpus linguistics

I have already given a link to Neil Goldfarb’s weblog LAWnLinguistics – Not about the linguistics of lawns, but that was only in passing. My post then was about Goldfarb’s use of corpus linguistics in an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The latest post, dated today, is Words, Meanings, Corpora: A Lawyer’s Introduction to Meaning in the Framework of Corpus Linguistics. He writes:

On Friday I will be presenting a paper at a conference at Brigham Young University Law School on law and corpus linguistics. Here is the description from the conference website:
‘Building on the 2016 inaugural Law and Corpus Linguistics Conference, the 2017 BYU Law Review Symposium, “Law & Corpus Linguistics” brings together legal scholars from across various substantive areas of scholarship, prominent corpus linguistics scholars, and judges who have employed corpus linguistics analysis in their decisions.’

That’s quite a coincidence because on the same date there is a talk at IALS A Practical Workshop on using Corpus Linguistics for Law by Dr Gianluca Pontrandolfo.

Goldfarb wants to show lawyers how to judge the meaning of words, and Pontrandolfo’s workshop is said to be of interest not only to legal translators but to those analysing legal language for other purposes.

Anyway, the weblog has a great number of interesting links. It was pretty new when I first linked to it.

With thanks to Stan Carey on Twitter.

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)

Mass mailing

Did anyone else get one of these?

Hi,
I really loved your blog!

My name is XXX and I am a partner at YYY. We are looking to solve the pains and frustrations of the translation industry through training, consultancy and our flagship TMS software solution.

Currently, we are looking to deliver amazing content and insights from thought leaders to our growing customer platform. And once we saw your amazing blog we couldn’t stop thinking about getting in touch with you to see if there are potential ways to collaborate.

It would be great to set up a short chat with you to explore synergies! Just let me know when it would be a good time for you if you are up for it.

Would love to hear back from you.
Take care,

I think it’s usually etiquette not to reply to emails, for instance job offers, which are not addressed personally to oneself, although actually I did reply to XXX (in the negative) here.