Bugg’s Lawspeak – legal translation blog

Stuart Bugg is a Barrister & Solicitor (New Zealand), Solicitor (England & Wales), and admitted to Regional Court of Nuremberg (Landgericht Nürnberg). I have had the pleasure of attending his seminar on translating contracts, but I am sorry to say I did not realize he had a blog, which started in January 2014. So here it is:

Bugg’s Lawspeak

I’ve now added it to my RSS feeds. I’m calling it a legal translation blog because it relates to English and German law and translation too.

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, www.intermarkls.com.
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.

Links, blogroll

This site is only two months old on WordPress, and I certainly intend to add more pages with links to useful material.

At the moment I’ve added a page with a partial blogroll, but it’s a work in progress and the work I put in to describe the blogs and give their language is not visible.

The link is in the right sidebar near the top.

Translator stars and heroes: a Danish study of translators’ weblogs

Helle V. Dam has written an article on translators’ weblogs. It appeared in a collection in 2013 – the whole 20-page article can be found as a PDF online: The Translator Approach in Translation Studies – reflections based on a study of translators’ weblogs. . It’s part of a number of research projects in translation studies that are focused on the translator and possibly to be called ‘translator studies’.

I saw it on Richard Schneider’s blog at uepo.de: Selbstbeweihräucherung oder PR für die Übersetzerbranche? (German article with several extracts from the article, in English).

The study is based on the front pages of 20 weblogs on 8 October 2012, including the translators’ self-presentations where present.

The 20 weblogs studied are ‘drawn from the blog trekker page of the American Translators Association’ on 8 October 2012. Here is the blog trekker page at the date of this post. There are well over 100 blogs there – 168 on the day it was consulted for the study (not all translators’ blogs though – but why is Fucked Translation missing?), so the selection is not random. There’s quite an emphasis on self-promotion in the blogs, so one wonders whether the selection was made after the focus was chosen. Perhaps so. But since Transblawg, one of the first translation blogs, started in 2003 there has been a huge blooming of the translator weblog worlds, and self-promotion and promotion of other translators is certainly a feature that has often struck me. Here’s something on the choice of bloggers:

In the selection of respondents, every effort was made to ensure a sample of translators with a strong professional profile, thus presumably at the high end of the translatorstatus continuum.

Statements like the following seem based on the particular selection:

Translators blog, they blog extensively and enthusiastically, and as we shall see, they quite learly blog for empowerment. They also blog to boost their businesses (cf. Dam in progress), but the focus and aim of the present study is to investigate what blogging translators say to enhance their own and their profession’s status. … Applied to the present study, I assume that blogging translators contribute to changing (or perpetuating) existing perceptions of themselves and their profession – including their occupational status – by talking or writing about these issues in a certain way.

I wonder how far translator blogs can change the perceptions of translation – it depends on who reads the blogs.

There are paragraphs on income and pay rates, skills and expertise, and visibility/fame:

The translators in the sample, however, are clearly networkers and use their blogs to create an authentic community of blogging translators. They link to each other’s blogs, they comment on each other’s blog posts, they write guest posts on each other’s blogs, they share jokes, experiences and knowledge, and they also refer very explicitly to each other in their blog posts …

I won’t summarize the whole thing but I was particularly interested in the topic of self-promotion and the way translators create ‘translator heroes’.

The bloggers in the sample also mention and promote translators outside the blog community.
For example, in a report from an ATA conference, one blog author refers to a non-blogging translator as follows: “star translator and international speaker Chris Durban” (15, 3). This leads us to a different, but related, feature of the blogs: the construction of professional ‘stars’. … Not only do they emphasize the star qualities of some translators, such as the “star translator” Chris Durban in the above quote, they also cite interviews with translators whom they consider important and write glowing, obituary-like blog posts in which fellow translators are raised to stardom.

Dam mentions what is known as BIRGing (basking in reflected glory).

It does tend to irritate me that there are certain people and books that one feels a certain community of translators regards as sacrosanct so that criticism of them would appear petty and peevish. I’m not sure how far this kind of thing originates in American blogs – but not all the blogs in the sample are U.S. ones.

And then there are those blogs or sites that appear from nowhere offering a prize for the best language blog and inviting everyone to vote in order to increase their own traffic by buttering up translation bloggers.

The wider societal impact of translation is also often commented on. For example, several of the translators-cum-bloggers devote entire blog posts to describing a recently published book with the suggestive title Found in Translation. How Language Shapes our Lives and Transforms the World (Kelly & Zetzsche 2012). As one blogger says:

“It’s absolutely delightful that we finally have a mainstream book about our profession that’s accessible and interesting to those who are not in the profession. Ultimately, as a profession, we want the general public to know that what we do matters, and this book will leave little doubt that what we do matters a great deal.” (11, 2)

There is a final caveat, along the lines of the oozlum bird:

A discipline that studies its own practitioners is, however, neither very common nor unproblematic. Law scholars, for example, do not study lawyers but stick to studying the law. The reasons are obvious. By studying the law, legal scholars increase the body of knowledge in their discipline and thus enable its practitioners, and their own students, to become increasingly skilled and knowledgeable. Should translation scholars not be doing the same, studying translation (including translation tools, the development of translation competence, etc.) rather than translators? Are translation scholars not letting down translation students and practitioners if they study translators rather than increase the existing knowledge about translation? As we have seen, translators suffer from a low-skill image even as it is; if translation scholars do not focus on increasing the knowledge base of translation, they may in fact do more harm than good to the profession.

As for myself, my blog is not part of a blogging network, but I admit to wishing to appear knowledgeable about legal translation. I started it in 2003 after I had stopped teaching, and my original idea was to include a lot of the information I’d collected as a teacher of law and legal translation in a more permanent form than in a mailing list, together with trivial information about my life in Fürth. At the time when I started blogging, other translators often had more diary-like forms. Blogs vary from the ones analysed here. For instance, Richard Schneider’s blog I regard as a source of translation news rather than a record of the blogger’s own translation life. Or Martin Crellin’s German blog, False Friends, Good and Bad Translation discusses translation problems and errors.

Finally, here are the blogs referenced and links to them:

About Translation, by Riccardo Schiaffino
Catherine Translates, by Catherine Jan (author now an in-house copywriter)
Financial Translation Blog, by Miguel I. Llorens (author died in September 2012 but blog still there)
Musings from an overworked translator, by Jill R. Sommer
Naked Translations, by Céline Graciet
On Language and Translation, by Barabara Jungwirth
Patenttranslator’s Blog, by Steve Vitek
Thoughts On Translation, by Corinne McKay
Translate This, by Michael Wahlster
Translating is an Art, by Percy Balemans
Translation Times, by Judy and Dagmar jenner
Translation Tribulations, by Kevin Lossner
Translationista, by Susan Bernofsky (note change of address)
The Translator’s Teacup, by Rose Newell
Fidus Interpres, by Fabio Said (I htink this one is dead – was very prolific and has gone into book form)
The Greener Word, by Abigail Dahlberg (I fear this is dead – I liked it as a subject-specific translation blog)
The Interpreter Diaries, by Michelle Hof
Mox’s Blog, by Alejandro Moreno-Romos
Say What? by Alexander C. Totz (Apparently dead – author has started two non-translation blogs)
Words to good effect, by Marian Dougan

FIT Congress in Berlin

The FIT Congress, which I am not at, is going on in Berlin at the moment.

This means that a lot of tweeting is going on (hashtags #fitcongress or #FITcongress, I gather – I am only seeing what comes direct from people I follow).

Thus I gather that there is a marketing block in which Chris Durban is calling for action (picture).

This was preceded by a talk by Martina Wieser on using a blog for marketing purposes. Here is the weblog of Martina Wieser and Norma Keßler. Their blog is integrated into their website and has occasional posts, all aimed at a marketing effect (but what isn’t?).

My blogroll has gone and I have only begun to put together separate pages with useful links, I’m afraid.

SMALL RANT: Two of three things I received in the post were wrong. Instead of sending me the latest edition of Corinna Schlüter-Ellner’s Juristendeutsch, the BDÜ Fachverlag sent a book by Renate Dockhorn on Trados, of all things. On my complaint by email, they replied as follows:

Vielen Dank für Ihre Nachricht.
Wir sind ab sofort bis zum 06.08.2014 auf dem FIT-Weltkongress 2014.
Ab Donnerstag, den 07.08. 2014 sind wir wieder wie gewohnt für Sie zu erreichen.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
Ihre BDÜ Weiterbildungs- und Fachverlags GmbH


Thank you very much for your email.
The office is not occupied until August 6th, 2014, as we are celebrating the FIT Worldcongress in Berlin.
We will be back in the office from August 7th, 2014.

Kind regards

I’m not holding my breath, but wondered how one might understand ‘The office is not occupied until August 6th’.

I also received a repayment of tax from HMRC, sent to my German address which was not relevant to the tax return. Since Deutsche Post does not understand foreign postal codes when forwarding abroad – it is incapable of putting a gap in the middle – , I am not very happy with this. The letter took a month to reach me.

Are blogs any use to law firms (translators)?

Are blogs any use to law firms? – article by Joe Reevy in the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers at Infolaw. The newsletter is accessible free of charge online nowadays. The general point made is that law firms often put a lot of money into blogging – a post is said to cost GBP 130 – and yet get no comments or feedback. Blogging is referred to as ‘starting an online conversation’. (I must say there is little conversation here either, and I don’t do much to encourage it). It is argued that lawyers should concentrate on one location, one industry or one line of work.

This is presuming the whole purpose of a blog on a law firm’s website is to generate business. Which it probably is.

As for this translation blog, it isn’t meant to generate business. Although I suppose I have got a lot of work through colleagues’ recommendations, so discussing legal translation problems here may prove beneficial. I certainly don’t mention the blog to clients and am somewhat embarrassed if I find out they read it. I have a separate work website, which alas is neglected in that it still records me as being in Germany. I am just getting round to that.

But in recent years a lot of translators’ weblogs have appeared which look much more like advertising efforts. I wonder if they work? Probably just in the same networking way as this blog probably does.

Don’t forget Delia Venables’ Legal Resources in UK and Ireland. My blogroll and links will return, but meanwhile, here is a site to find a lot of information, including UK lawyers’ blogs. Under ‘Information for Lawyers’ you can find, among other things, links to legal journals.

Note in particular Delia’s article in the newsletter on US legal resources (example: use Google Scholar to find case law).

Hello World


This blog has just been moved from Serendipity to WordPress. It was hard work, not done by me but by the organ grinder at kalebeul.

There is a script to move from s9y to wp online. This stopped after moving all the posts but comments stopped at 2007, and categories and comments weren’t linked. If I understand it right, Trevor succeeded in moving the rest by clearing out a lot of stuff from the databases, emptying things like spam comments from tables to reduce the amount to be migrated. Even the images came over, which I wasn’t expecting, but this was probably down to coding work on his part.

I’m hoping that if I get a wave of spam comments which the blog fights off, it won’t shut down the server again like it has done twice in the past. The system looks easier to use. It looks as if I don’t have to do so much by hand on an upgrade. Serendipity was in bad English (domainfactory offers an instant wp install, into bad German). I should probably write down all the steps for customizing the blog, since my brain doesn’t seem to retain them.