The Hidden Life of Trees

After I moved back to London in 2013 I attended a course on trees at the City Lit, I can now reveal. In five whole Sundays we were promised we could learn to recognize eight trees. I immediately saw the value to me. I had not thought much about trees till then, but I needed to get out walking and there are trees everywhere, so I thought it would be interesting to know something about them. And indeed I found the course quite fascinating. We used to go to Lincoln’s Inn Fields and pull leaves and flowers apart, and one member of the class put the bits in a bag, and the following week we had to identify them again. It was good that the course wasn’t restricted to Our Native Trees, because from gingkos to Tibetan cherries to unusual types of magnolia, London is full of immigrant vegetation.

I highly recommend the teacher, Letta Jones, who holds courses elsewhere. Her website www.lettajones.co.uk will not always be quite up to date, but I think an email should get a list of courses and walks.

At the time I got some books on trees. I must say that there is no one guide to identifying trees that covers everything, and they vary in the way they help identification. You have to put time into recognizing twigs and buds and leaves and bark.

But then there are other, more discursive books on trees. And this is where the story reaches the present day. I had read a bit of the German bestseller Das Geheime Leben der Bäume by Peter Wohlleben, and much to my surprise I heard a German talking about trees to Jo Good on BBC Radio London last week, and sure enough it was he! At the time of writing the clip can still be heard as part of Prue Leith and the Barking Hour at about 1.05 (who knew one could pronounce Wohlleben like vol-au-vent?). It seems that the book has just been published in English, by a Canadian publisher, translator unnamed, as The Hidden Life of Trees. I suppose Canada is the place for lumber. Anyway, Wohlleben was passing through London and is obviously selling his book.

On air, Wohlleben was a bit sniffy about non-native trees. He had obviously practised his tree English, but he didn’t know the word pollarding. Jo Good seemed obsessed by an allegedly particularly lonely plane tree outside The Dorchester (that tree is included in The Great Trees of London and was planted in the 1930s, it says. book, website). Other callers referred to the plane tree in Cheapside, but seemingly believed it is the oldest tree in London and survived the Great Fire of London. In other words, the programme wasn’t very informative.

When I started reading the German book last year it did occur to me it might be worth translating, because there are quite a number of books about trees in English and quite a readership – but not a readership that puts them in the top ten best-selling books. One explanation is that Wohlleben tells stories and gives trees feelings.

Wohlleben was a forester for 20 years, learning how to manage wood. Later he found himself conducting nature walks and making provision for woodland burials and began to see trees differently. He retired as a forester (giving up his civil service career) and it looks as if he has published a book every year since then – see his German Wikipedia entry. But it was with Das geheime Leben der Bäume that he hit the really big time. Funnily enough, Colin Tudge’s book The Secret Life of Trees covers a lot of the same ground and got great reviews in 2005. So Wohlleben’s book had to be given a different name in translation. I read most of Tudge and found it a good read full of memorable detail, but eventually there was so much memorable detail and I was remembering so little of it that I seem to have stopped at page 252. I think this was because of the six chapters on six different tree families all over the world – the last chapter I managed was ‘From Handkerchief Trees to Teak:The Daisy-like Eudicots’.

The thing about Wohlleben is that he is a great popularizer and anthropomorphist. Both authors’ books have their references to scientific articles – I can’t help thinking Wohlleben was influenced by Tudge, not in style or detail but in the idea of writing a book on this subject, but he doesn’t cite him.

An article by Christoph Schröder in Die Zeit

Im Duktus des Märchens entwirft Wohlleben das Bild eines bestens durchorganisierten sozialen Systems, in dem zwar einerseits das Recht des Stärkeren gilt, andererseits aber der Schwächere niemals allein gelassen, sondern aufgefangen und mitgetragen wird. So beseelt wie bei Wohlleben war der Wald selbst bei den Romantikern nicht. Man spricht miteinander, liebt sich, erzieht sich und hilft sich gegenseitig mit Mahlzeiten aus, wenn Not am Stamm ist.

Kobolde haben schlechte Karten
Kann es in aufgepeitschten und unruhigen Zeiten etwas Tröstlicheres geben als den Entwurf eines funktionierenden gesellschaftlichen Gefüges, das in gegenseitiger Achtung und in Solidarität und Generationengerechtigkeit lebt? Das ist der Wohlleben-Wald: ein nur von außen, durch den Menschen bedrohter utopischer Raum, in dem es keine Schuld gibt.

In the FAZ Bäume sind so tolle Lebewesen, Melanie Mühl also considers why Wohlleben’s book has been a bestseller for months: he has been practising how to explain trees to people for years, and people want stories and feelings.

Seit zwanzig Jahren führt Peter Wohlleben Menschen durch den Wald, zeigt, erklärt, erzählt. Zwanzig Jahre Marktforschung darüber, welchen Ton er anschlagen muss, damit die Wissensvermittlung funktioniert. Bei der trockenen Wissenschaftssprache jedenfalls, da schalten die meisten sofort ab. Menschen wollen Geschichten. Und Gefühle. Wohllebens rhetorische Vermenschlichungsstrategie ist lange erprobt.

In Wahrheit gibt Wohlleben den Deutschen nicht ihren Wald zurück. Er erklärt ihnen den Baum, damit sie den Wald besser verstehen. Er fragt nicht, wie die Romantiker und die Yogamattenausroller, was der Wald für unser Seelenheil tun kann, sondern was wir für den Wald tun können.

„Ich umarme keine Bäume, und ich spreche auch nicht mit ihnen“, sagt Wohlleben.

It will be interesting to see if the book is as successful in English as it is in German.

As a footnote, Christiane Bergfeld’s blog Übersetzung und Literatur, doch nicht nur has recently been taken over by tree photos.

Colin Tudge, The Secret Life of Trees. How they live and why they matter, 2005.

Oliver Rackham, Woodlands. 2006.

Oliver Rackham, Obituary :

He was also a gifted linguist, reading Latin verse for relaxation. During a field course on the Croatian island of Rab he sat next to the local priest on a bus and questioned him closely in Latin about the management of the local woods.

Peter A. Thomas, Trees. Their Natural History.

British military manual for Germany selling well in translation

The Bodleian Library reprinted Instructions for British Servicemen in Germany, 1944 a couple of xears ago (there are others, and if you buy it from there don’t forget to look at their bookish Christmas cards). I missed this, and also the bilingual version now doing so well in Germany, which itself appeared over two years ago:
Christian Kracht und Helge Malchow (Hrsgs.): “Leitfaden für britische Soldaten in Deutschland 1944” (Kiepenheuer und Witsch) (via Denis Scheck, Druckfrisch).

The result is a remarkable booklet, often unintentionally humorous and sometimes crudely stereotypical, it reads by turns like a travel guide (advising on the excellence of German sausages and beer – ‘one of the pleasantest in Europe’) and a crash course in psychological warfare. It is very much a document of the period, revealing as much about British wartime attitudes towards Germany as it does about British hopes and fears.

‘If you have to give orders to German civilians, give them in a firm, military manner. The German civilian is used to it and expects it.’

There seem to be a whole series of hese books, including one on German invasion plans for the British Isles.

There’s even a German Wikipedia page, and the bilingual version is available for Kindle.

It looks as if the translator was Helge Malchow.

Dietl/Lorenz EN>DE published

I noticed that the new English-German volume of the Dietl/Lorenz law dictionary has appeared. Professor Egon Lorenz is still in charge. The German-English volume is announced for 2017.

Dietl/Lorenz: Wörterbuch Recht, Wirtschaft & Politik Band 1: Englisch-Deutsch

LATER NOTE: More details in an email from Hans Kotzur of Kater Verlag:

es freut mich, diese Neuauflage anbieten zu können, an der seit einigen Jahren gearbeitet wird.
Der Lexikograf Dr. Kettler tritt in die Fußspuren seiner Vorgänger und hat den Umfang des ‘Dietl/Lorenz’ auf 100.000 Begriffe ausgeweitet.
Neben der Zuordnung der Terme zu den jeweiligen Geschlechtern wurde die neue deutsche Rechtschreibung nachgeführt und jeder Begriffe lexikologisch überarbeitet.
Eine Neuauflage rechtfertigt man vor allem durch inhaltliche Erneuerung und Ergänzungen. So wurden der Rechtsentwicklung Rechnung getragen und neue technische Begriffe eingeführt.
Dies betrifft zum Beispiel den Bereich IT / Computer, Compliance, und viele andere mehr.
Der Wortschatz zum Thema Banken und deren Produkte wurde erweitert. Stichwort: Basel III.
Die Vertiefung der Wirtschaftsbeziehungen mit den Vereinigten Saaten von Amerika durch die Auflösung der Deutschland AG mit der Einflussnahme der Beteiligungsgesellschaften und Fonds (vulgo Heuschrecken) fand Niederschlag.
Die Neuordnung der deutschen Immobilienlandschaft durch Veräußerung der immensen Bestände an Immobilienverwaltungsgesellschaften fand entsprechend Raum im Wörterbuch.
Nicht zuletzt die Veränderungen im Rechtsgefüge, die durch EU-Bürgschaften, IWF-Garantien und supranationale dem parlamentarischen Recht nicht unterworfene Körperschaften geprägt werden, wurden nachvollzogen.
Ceta und TTIP werfen Schatten voraus, auf die ein Wörterbuch wie der Dietl / Lorenz reagieren muss.
Bleibt noch ein umfangreiches Abkürzungsverzeichnis mit ca 6.000 Einträgen und die Ausweisung britischer sowie amerikanischer Schreibweise um das Invest in dieses Meisterwerk der englisch/ deutschen Wörterbücher zu begründen.

Angeboten wird der Wortschatz als Buch Englisch / Deutsch. Artikelnummer: 4000 Preis: 169.- Euro
Warenkorb: https://www.kater-verlag.de/fachwoerterbuecher-recht-jura/Dietl—Lorenz–Woerterbuch-fuer-Recht–Wirtschaft-und-Politik-Band-I-Englisch—Deutsch-EN-DE.html
KaterScan: https://www.kater-verlag.de/images/inhalt/i4000.jpg
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In Kürze wird der Wortschatz als Download Deutsch / Englisch und Englisch / Deutsch angeboten werden. Artikelnummer für Vorbestellungen 4290 Preis: 315.- Euro
https://www.kater-verlag.de/fachwoerterbuecher-recht-jura/Dietl—Lorenz–Woerterbuch-fuer-Recht–Wirtschaft-und-Politik-DE-EN–EN-DE-DOWNLOAD.html
KaterScan: https://www.kater-verlag.de/images/inhalt/i4290.jpg
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Vorbesitzer der CD-Version erhalten ein Update gegen Nachweis unter Artikelnummer: 4310 für Vorbestellungen Preis: 129.- Euro
https://www.kater-verlag.de/fachwoerterbuecher-recht-jura/Dietl—Lorenz–Woerterbuch-fuer-Recht–Wirtschaft-und-Politik-DE-EN–EN-DE–Update-DOWNLOAD.html
KaterScan: https://www.kater-verlag.de/images/inhalt/i4310.jpg
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Kunden der IDS-Mietlösung von Acolada kommen bereits heute in den Genuss der elektronischen Version des Dietl/ Lorenz. Artikelnummer: 4296
https://www.kater-verlag.de/fachwoerterbuecher-recht-jura/Dietl—Lorenz–Woerterbuch-fuer-Recht–Wirtschaft-und-Politik-DE-EN–EN-DE-ONLINE.html

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Für das Jahr 2017 erwarten wir die vollständig überarbeitete Buchauflage Deutsch/ Englisch.

Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis won by Sharon Dodua Atoo

The bizarre Ingeborg Bachmann prize for literature has been won by Sharon Dodua Atoo, a black Germanist, mother and activist who has lived in Berlin for 24 years – see Philip Oltermann article in the Guardian. A couple of years ago the texts of the candidates were translated into English, but not this time. The reading, discussion and text, and a video about the author, can be found on the Klagenfurt prize website. She normally writes in English.
Here is more from Sharon Dodua Atoo’s website.

Complete poems of Du Fu published in translation

Steve Owen has translated the complete poems of Du Fu (1400-odd) and they are published together with the original Chinese, the Harvard Gazette reports: Translating Nine Pounds of Poetry.

What’s more, the complete work is available in an open access version free online in PDFs.

As Du Fu might have written if he’d been writing English:

Meng of the Granaries Section Comes on Foot to Give This Old Man Full Pots of New Ale and Bean Sauce

Chu shores gave passage to autumn clogs,
as my folding chair faced the evening fields.
Having strained the lees, you separated the liquid from the dregs,
the pot of bean sauce spills over as you carry it.
One will add fragrant flavor when I dine on coarse meal,
as for the other, when friends come we will get drunk.
How can one avoid ordinary things in managing life? —
please tell my rustic wife how to make these.

They studied German (2) Neil MacGregor

This isn’t a big surprise as Neil MacGregor, when he was Director of the British Museum, organized the exhibition called German: Memories of a Nation. I wrote a sniffy report on it in an earlier post. There are definitely good things in the book, however, and so in theory one could read about them or look at the maps at leisure – they seemed to me very diverse and complex, and so unsuitable for being absorbed in the course of viewing an exhibition. The book will be coming out in paperback on April 7.

There’s a video of the exhibition on this British Museum page, showing MacGregor’s theme that when the two Germanies were united 25 years ago, they had no shared history, but shared memories. A map shows over 200 currencies representing separated states, each with its own legal system, army etc. There was also a radio series of 15-minute programmes – they can be downloaded as podcasts indefinitely.

I was aware that MacGregor had studied modern languages at Oxford, but Wikipedia lists his alma mater as New College Oxford, École Normale Supérieure, University of Edinburgh and Courtauld Institute of Art – he has even more almae matres or alma maters than I have (KCL, College of Law, Institute of Education). He was a law student at Edinburgh and was called to the Bar in 1972, and to crown it all:

on a Courtauld Institute (University of London) summer school in Bavaria, the Courtauld’s director Anthony Blunt spotted MacGregor and persuaded him to take a master’s degree under his supervision. Blunt later considered MacGregor “the most brilliant pupil he ever taught”.

The Journal of Specialised Translation

There is a new issue of The Journal of Specialised Translation out (link to full table of contents).

Individual items can be accessed in HTML or as PDFs.

I was interested in Marian Flanagan: Cause for concern? Attitudes towards translation crowdsourcing in professional translators’ blogs. Here is the abstract:

This paper seeks to identify professional translators’ attitudes towards the practice of translation crowdsourcing. The data consist of 48 professional translator blogs. A thematic analysis of their blog posts highlights three main findings: translation crowdsourcing can enhance visibility of the translation profession, but fails to enhance visibility of the professional translator; ethical concerns are raised regarding translator participation in non-profit translation crowdsourcing, and the shifting of responsibility from the professional to the non-professional translator; professional translators do not openly discuss their motives for differentiating between the various non-profit initiatives, and while there is much discussion on translation crowdsourcing for humanitarian causes, little or no attention is paid to free and open source software projects.

The list of blogs at the end indicates that many did not discuss crowdsourcing at all, whereas others had several entries on it – not surprising in view of the variety of approaches in translators’ blogs.

There is some discussion (I’ve only skimmed the article) of the ethics of translation crowdsourcing, whether the translation is for a for-profit organization like LinkedIn or for a non-profit organization, where there appears to be a confict between its involvement in projects that could benefit others financially, while hiring professional translators who work for free. What do translators think about this? And are non-professionals taking responsibility for the translations, taking it out of the hands of translators?

I’ve only skimmed the article though. I am wondering about the status of Translators without Borders – I think Médecins sans frontières actually pays its doctors, whereas I assume TwB doesn’t pay translators, but it is getting a lot of free advertising – who supervises its finances, which must be considerable? This is not dealt with specifically in the article.

There is also a review by Łucja Biel of the University of Warsaw of a book on legal lexicography:
Mac Aodha, Máirtín (ed.) (2014). Legal Lexicography. A Comparative Perspective. Law, Language and Communication (series editors Anne Wagner and Vijay Kumar Bhatia). Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 339, £75.00. ISBN: 978-1-4094-5441-0.

I may report on this myself depending on time and energy. Łucja Biel’s own book:
Lost in the Eurofog: The Textual Fit of Translated Law (2014) is also reviewed and sounds interesting.

Kater Verlag subscription for online dictionaries

Kater Verlag is selling an online dictionary subscription covering all the dictionaries using Unilex software.

Unter folgendem Link finden Sie das gesamte Angebot der rund 50 Abonnement-Wörterbücher in den Sprachen Deutsch, Englisch, Französisch, Italienisch, Spanisch, Portugiesisch, Niederländisch und andere:
http://www.kater-verlag.de/Abonnement-Woerterbuecher/
Aus diesem Angebot können Sie Ihre gesuchten Wörterbücher sprachenweise oder themenweise heraus filtern.

Die Inhalte der Online-Wörterbücher sind mit denen der angebotenen Download-Wörterbüchern identisch, sind aber mit denselben nicht kompatibel.

Die Abo-Lösung stellt eine andere Form der Darreichung dar. Zu jedem Wörterbuch gibt einen Kater-Scan (=Blick in das Wörterbuch).
Folgende Informationsseite bietet eine umfassende Übersicht über das neue Angebot:
http://www.kater-verlag.de/info/Online-Zugang–IDS.html

Keine Rose ohne Dornen: beim Erstabonnement wird eine Hostinggebühr von netto 2€ Euro / Monat zu den Abo-Kosten addiert.

I’m just ffering this as information to research further. There is a filter on the left of the page, where if you choose DE and EN you finish up with all dictionaries with those languages in them, including Potonnier, which is DE-FR, for example (although I find Potonnier interesting). The Dietl I have on CD is not there – perhaps they are waiting for the new one. I haven’t bothered to work out what the system costs and if it varies according to how many dictionaries you use.

I do use online dictionaries offered to BDÜ members sometimes, mainly for technological terminology.

Zahn Dictionary Bank- und Börsenwesen Deutsch-Englisch available in Acolada

Zahn’s excellent dictionary of banking and stock trading DE>EN, which has made the shortlist of paper dictionaries within reach of my desk, is now available – actually in both directions, I gather – in a digital edition compatible with other Acolada dictionaries. Here’s the page about the download. Apparently there used to be a digital edition but that stopped ten years ago.
More information plus a sample at Kater Verlag.

It seems there is a 7th ed DE>EN in print and a 6th edition EN>DE, both 2015 (I have the 6th ed. DE>EN, 2011).
Entspricht den Print-Ausgaben Deutsch-Englisch: 7. Auflage 2015 und Englisch-Deutsch: 6. Auflage 2015