Books I have not read/Ungelesene Bücher

In a variation of the popular bloggers’ posts ‘Books I read in 2013’, ‘Books I read in December’ and so on, here are some books I haven’t read.

First of all, I was in Hammicks law bookshop yesterday because it was still open till 7 pm when I happened to pass it.

I didn’t buy Catherine Barnard’s tome on EU Employment Law although it looked like a good read, with quite some reference to individual countries. I had to admit I would not find time to read it. Had I wanted to, I could have got it cheaper second-hand or on Kindle (though I feel books you want to leaf through don’t work well on Kindle). EU law sometimes gets me down because I don’t know enough about it, and whether working through this book would help I don’t know – though I suspect it would

Nor did I buy Guide to Latin in International Law by Fellmeth and Horwitz. You can look inside at amazon. The Latin used in English law and the Latin used in German law are different, US law also uses different Latin and international law (with which I rarely have to do) probably uses a different one again. Not only that, but the pronunciation varies from country to country. There is some information on this in this book, but probably the two versions given, which are ‘American’ and ‘restored classical’ I think, are not enough to help those of us dealing with UK and German pronunciations. This book is not cheap. I liked the detailed explanations and layout. But again, I felt my life would be full enough without finding time to read it.

Similarly, I did not buy Rupert Haigh’s Oxford Handbook of Legal Correspondence. It’s for non-native speakers of English and it looks very good. I still don’t know how people really learn languages or learn legal English, but if they can learn something from a book, this may be a book for them – as are Rupert’s other books (see his website).

This list seems rather short, as there are very many other books I haven’t read, and it is very much biased to OUP. So here’s more: I saw a newer edition of the Barron’s Law Dictionary by Peter Gifis, which I have always liked, but I suspect the edition I have will suffice. But mine is nearly twenty years old, so maybe I should reconsider. You can get this as a paperback or for Kindle.

I also haven’t read The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law. I haven’t even had it in my hands, though. But I have mentioned it in an earlier post.

This will have to do for now, although I think I could write many more posts on this subject.

John Flood: What Do Lawyers Do?

John Flood has published a revised version of his book on a Chicago law firm, called Tischmann and Weinstock for the purposes of the book: What Do Lawyers Do? An ethnography of a corporate law firm. You can get the Kindle version, and the paper versions are due shortly.

John Flood has a website and a weblog called John Flood’s Random Academic Thoughts, where there is a post with more information on the book.

I have often wondered what lawyers do myself – the book is about business lawyers rather than litigators, whose role is easier to understand. Just as people who come straight from translation studies can’t usually translate, new lawyers can’t usually act as lawyers, so I never found it out, although the firm in the book sounds very similar to the Jewish law firm where I did my articles in London, down to the arrangement of the offices. The text is rather dry on the surface, a summary of analysis, but amusing between the lines.

The main activity of lawyers is talking on the telephone with persons other than Tischmann lawyers (31.1%). If we add talking with other Tischmann lawyers by telephone the percentage rises to 23.5 percent. The second largest activity is talking face to face with other Tischmann lawyers (12%). Talking with Tischmann lawyers and others takes up 18.1 percent of lawyers’ billable time. If we sum time spent at meetings outside the office (2.6%), office meetings (0.7%), telephoning and talking face to face, we find lawyers spend 53.9 percent of their chargeable time talking. Writing, however, takes up only 20.8 percent (16.3% – drafting; 4.5% – revising). … Research is an activity mainly carried out by associates.

All the office staff are considered.

All the support staff had to log in and out during the day. If they were late, their salaries were docked. Because they perceived their salaries already low, many secretaries left after having their salaries reduced. Much of the office gossip turned on how much of a “bastard” the office manager was, and who was about to suffer his wrath next. Some of the secretaries were aggrieved at how they were treated by the office manager. They felt he conveniently forgot the many occasions when they came in during weekends to help their attorneys, when he decided to dock their pay for some infraction.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest. I think I first read John Flood on barristers’ clerks, a mysterious species – here’s a blog post on them.

Grant and Cutler dictionaries/Rechtswörterbücher

I recently received an indirect query from someone studying legal translation in the UK who wants to buy a German-English law dictionary. There was a list of the dictionaries currently available at Foyles, into which Grant & Cutler has now been integrated (I remember Grant & Cutler near Embankment Station, before it moved closer to Oxford Street and now to Foyles). Here’s the link, but it may change in time.

Title: Author: Description:
Recht Fachwörterbuch Kompakt. Law concise dictionary.: German<>English Bugg, S. G. & Simon, H. Approx. 28.000 terms and more than 50.000 translations. With short German and English introductions to the German, British and American legal system.

Rechtsenglisch: Deutsch<>Englisches Rechtswörterbuch für jedermann Köbler, G. approx. 25.000 entries, 485 pages.
Dictionaries: Specialist & Technical: Legal. Published 2007. Price: £19.95

Wörterbuch Arbeit, Recht, Wirtschaft. Dictionary of Labour, Law and Business terms. Horstenkamp, C. Approx. 5,000 terms.
Dictionaries: Specialist & Technical: Legal. Published 2006. Price: £25.95

Wörterbuch Recht German<>English Bachem, W. & Hamblock, D. Approx. 56,000 terms.
Dictionaries: Specialist & Technical: Legal. Published 2008. Price: £42.99

If you click on the first entry, it says the book and CD ROM are temporarily out of print but cost £52. The paperback (I didn’t know about this) is available and costs £30.

In response, I was taken aback at the absence of Romain and Dietl, but on reflection think they may be unavailable and about to be published in new editions.

I’ve written about small law dictionaries before (here and here). I understand why the publishers like them: because they can sell them to German law students. But they are just not big enough to be much use. If the budget doesn’t run to more, I would advise against the Köbler, although I don’t know its latest edition. The editions I have seen have all been based on a standard and peculiar shortish word list, originally created in German and put into English or whatever other language is involved. Of the others, I slightly prefer the Bachem and I don’t find the extra material in the Langenscheidt much use, but if possible you should compare the two yourself.

The Horstenkamp was unknown to me so I bought a copy. It is out of print but can be got second-hand. I actually got a new copy, but I don’t think it’s that easy to find. This dictionary of labour, law and business terms was done by a colleague. It is actually a set of seven glossaries EN>DE and seven glossaries DE>EN. This disqualifies it for me even if it were bigger, as I don’t want to spend so much time leafing through it. True, there are two global indexes in the back, which somewhat helps. The areas are:
Labour – Arbeit
Business – Wirtschaft
Education/Training – Bildung/Ausbildung
European Union – Europäische Union
Law – Recht
Politics – Politik
Health and Safety – Arbeitssicherheit

The labour part looks OK, but in particular the EU and law sections are very small and it looks more like an interpreter’s private glossary. It also has things like
sich schuldig bekennen – plead guilty (looks like a reverse of an EN>DE entry)
vorsätzlich – wilful; premeditated (Vorsatz is intention, not premeditation)
Pflichtverteidiger – duty solicitor (again, was this generated from EN>DE?)
Gewohnheitsrecht – common law (should be custom)

Schweitzer International Bookstore

Have I recommended the Schweitzer legal bookshop in Munich before? I’ve only been once and they had an eclectic selection of law books in English in the basement. Don’t know if that’s still the case. More interesting was a list of books, for example German law in English, which I got hold of years ago. What I didn’t realize is that its successor and various materials are now available online.

Schweitzer Fachinformationen

If you click on International Bookstore, you will find a number of links to newsletters, including special editions of newsletters, in the form of PDFs with details on relevant literature:

Spezial-Ausgaben des ILFB-Newsletters /
Newsletter – special edition
ILFB Spezial: Arbitration
ILFB Spezial: Germany
ILFB-Spezial: Contracts – Forms – Drafting
ILFB-Spezial: Insolvency
Sonderheft: International Corporate Reporting
ILFB-Spezial: Intellectual Property
ILFB-Spezial: Securities Law & Regulations
ILFB-Spezial: Joint Ventures & Strategic Alliances
ILFB-Spezial: Estate Planning – Trusts
ILFB-Spezial: Private Equity
ILFB-Spezial: Islamic Business & Finance
ILFB-Spezial: Business Crime
ILFB-Spezial: Company Law Reform Act

The newsletters relate to books on law, economics and tax, and you can subscribe to them.

From the special newsletter on Germany (August 2011), here is a typical book description from page 37 (I have this book by Singh and it looks very good – English texts on administrative law are not so easy to get – but I haven’t got round to mentioning it yet).

German Administrative Law in Common
Law Perspective
Singh, Mahendra P., 2nd edition 2001
ISBN 3540423656, 377 p.
(Springer Verlag)
Hardback,€ 85,55
A thoroughly revised edition of the author’s book on German Administrative Law, first published in 1985. From the perspective of a common law jurisdiction the author presents the basic framework of German administrative law, along the lines administrative law is understood in the English speaking world. It covers all the essential elements of German administrative law. It is updated to include the latest developments and the impact of EC law in different spheres.
Contents:
Nature, Scope, Growth of German Administrative Law. Legislative Powers of the Administration: Delegated Legislation. Administrative Powers: Administrative Act. Administrative Powers: Contracts, Private-Law Acts, Real Acts, and Planning. General Principles of Judicial Review. Judicial Review of Discretionary Powers. Administrative Courts. Judicial Remedies & Procedure. Liability of the Public Authorities. The Basic Law Grundgesetz). Law on Administrative Proceedings of 25 May 1976 (VwVfG). Code of Administrative Court Procedure (VwGO). An Illustrative Judgment.

Great work by Bettina Kube.

There’s a bookshop from the same chain in Nuremberg, but it doesn’t have a brilliant selection on international law. Maybe others do.

The Lost German Slave Girl/Eine Deutsche als Sklavin in Louisiana?

Here is yet another gratuitous book report.

The Lost German Slave Girl. The Extraordinary True Story of Sally Miller and Her Fight for Freedom in Old New Orleans, by John Bailey, Atlantic Monthly Press 2003

This book was a present from my friend and fellow-translator Karen in Denver (thanks, Karen!). I read it quite a few weeks ago, so my report is rather vague now.

John Bailey is an Australian lawyer who has now turned to writing, and he discovered this story when he was researching the details of law relating to slavery in Louisiana. Sally Miller was the ‘lost German slave girl’, who won a case freeing her from slavery because a person who was Caucasian could not be a slave. It’s a fascinating story and it throws some light on the situation of slaves who could not be freed from slavery. There’s also a fair amount about the circumstances in which the Müller family from the Alsace emigrated to the USA, following years of pillaging by French troops, bad harvests and ice in summer (apparently resulting from volcanic eruptions in the West Indies, the Philippines and Indonesia from 1813-1816 – so tonight I will be watching the arte documentary on ‘The year without a summer’).

From an interview with John Bailey:

My plans unraveled, when one day, in the quiet corner of a law library on a university campus in Louisiana, as I struggled to bring some semblance of order to my unruly and ever expanding manuscript, I opened a volume of the Louisiana law reports for 1845. There I met Sally Miller, the Lost German Slave Girl. I was immediately enthralled by her story. By the end of the day, I had shoved my notes on lawyers, judges and politicians into my bag, and opening a fresh page in my diary, had began to jot down ideas for an entirely different project – this one, on the saga of Sally Miller’s bid for freedom.

One feature of the book is that while it cloaks the story in mystery – the witnesses in the trial are obviously long dead – at the same time it often knows exactly what the weather was like or what the main characters were thinking. This is part of the genre ‘bringing history to life’, I think. For a long time I was convinced that I was never going to know anything more about the truth or falsity of the story, but in fact more information was revealed at the end, which made the end of the book more satisfying than I had expected.

A bit of research on the Internet revealed that the story has been told before. Curiously, there is a 2007 American book on the subject, which looks similar to Bailey’s: The two lives of Sally Miller: a Case of Mistaken Racial Identity in Antebellum New Orleans, by Carol Wilson. You can read quite a bit of this on Google Books.

The other most stupid book you read as school reading/Das andere blödeste Buch, das du während der Schulzeit als Lektüre gelesen hast

I know this meme is getting really boring, and I should not go back and repeat an earlier entry, but I forgot I wanted to rant about a long poem, rather than a book, that I think we did for O Level. It was a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins called The Wreck of the Deutschland.

I never really ‘got’ Gerard Manley Hopkins, but I understood we are suppose to venerate him and recognize his brilliant originality in devising stuff like sprung rhythm. I couldn’t even appreciate this much in short poems.

You can get an impression of this work on youtube nowadays. I must say this brings back all the negative feelings I felt then. Here is the text (beginning – it gets quite long):

To the happy memory of five Franciscan Nuns exiles by the Falk Laws drowned between midnight and morning of Dec. 7th. 1875

PART THE FIRST

1

THOU mastering me
God! giver of breath and bread;
World’s strand, sway of the sea;
Lord of living and dead;
Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh, 5
And after it almost unmade, what with dread,
Thy doing: and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find thee.

I didn’t know about the Leytonstone connection, though.

Ferdinand von Schirach

Ferdinand von Schirach (grandson of Baldur) is a criminal defence attorney who has now published two books of stories about his clients which have topped the best-seller lists, are being filmed and translated.

The first book was Verbrechen (August 2009). I got it as a birthday present this year. I thought it was wonderful. The stories are based on real cases, but mixed up so the characters can’t be identified. Schirach uses a minimalist style. In a German interview (FAZ), he says that most crime novelists never experience a crime, so they sit in cafés and fill their books with descriptions.

Die meisten Leute, die Krimis schreiben, erleben keine Krimis, sondern sitzen in Prenzlauer Berg bei einem Cappuccino und denken sich die Welt aus. Deswegen müssen sie sehr ausführlich beschreiben, wie jemand mit Messer und Gabel gegessen hat, dass die Tischdecke ausgefranst war, dass der Himmel sich zuzuziehen begann . . . Ich hab’ da einfach Glück. Ich hab’ einfach diese Geschichten und kann die dann auch relativ kurz schreiben.

The second book was Schuld (August 2010), which I borrowed a few weeks ago. This time I was disappointed. The book lender thought these must be the stories which were rejected for the first book. I thought Schirach might be indulging himself following his success on the market.

The first book told the stories in a minimalist style. The second one seemed to me as if someone had taken a haiku and spoilt it with emotions and the author’s opinions.

Denis Scheck said the books are OK but they are not really literature, and their only real appeal is that they appear to reflect ‘reality’ (I quote from memory, and hope I am not distorting it).

Take the end of the first story in Schuld:

Nach der Haftprüfung gingen mein Studienfreund und ich zum Bahnhof. Wir hätten über den Sieg der Verteidigung sprechen können oder über den Rhein neben den Gleisen oder über irgendetwas. Aber wir saßen auf der hölzernen Bank, von der die Farbe abblätterte, und keiner wollte etwas sagen. Wir wussten, dass wir unsere Unschuld verloren hatten und dass das keine Rolle spielte. Wir schwiegen auch noch im Zug in unseren neuen Anzügen neben den kaum benutzten Aktentaschen, und während wir nach Hause fuhren, dachte wir an das Mädchen und die ordentlichen Männer und sahen uns nicht an. Wir waren erwachsen geworden, und als wir ausstiegen, wussten wir, dass die Dinge nie wieder einfach sein würden.

This goes too far for me. There is more of this in this second book, but some in the first too. I reread that, and I still love the story of the two neo-Nazis in the station (Notwehr).

In an interview in New Books in German, Schirach described his technique of mixing stories:

The essence of each story is true. You have to imagine it as one of those beautiful old printers’ typesetting cases. When you have been a Criminal Defence Lawyer your whole life, then you have quite a stock of typesetting cases full of people, events and little episodes. And I then put these together anew for a story. The only thing that I don’t change is the basic tone of a case, the motive, the atmosphere.

Of course, we are spoilt for simple and thought-provoking stories of crime by some German lawyers’ weblogs, such as law blog and Strafprozesse und andere Ungereimtheiten.

Thanks to Katy Derbyshire for the link to New Books in German.

Jonathan Franzen and Germany/Jonathan Franzen und Deutschland

I have just finished reading Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen (which also came out in German, rushed onto the market in a version by two translators). It’s very good, but I’m not really interested in what is the Great American Novel.

Now I wonder where the promised German element is. Franzen is said to have told MayBritt Illner that some of the novel would be set in Germany, but it isn’t. Germerica:

The 49-year old author of The Corrections says what he loves most of Berlin are its parks where he intends to spend a lot of time. “The Federal Republic will play an important role in the novel,” he told TV moderator Maybrit Illner as reported in the Berlin daily Berliner Morgenpost.

The only reference I saw was to a German called Matthias Dröhner who leaves a voice message asking Richard Katz to give him an interview.

The first (message) was from a pesty German, Matthias Dröhner, whom Katz vaguely recalled having struggled to fend off during Walnut Surprise’s swing through the Fatherland.

There’s a lot of information on the Web about Franzen and Germany. Apparently he studied science and filled up with German credits, since German was regarded as the language of science (that certainly used to be the case forty or fifty years ago). He spent two years in Germany in the early 1980s, which cured him of his desire to live in Europe. He is working on translating Karl Kraus essays into English.

There’s a 2005 interview with Franzen on Perlentaucher/signandsight, in English and German. Here Franzen talks about the influence German literature had on him – something I haven’t really noticed, except, slightly, for Thomas Mann.

Meine literarischen Vorbilder sind deutsch: Kafka die Nummer eins, dann Karl Kraus, Goethe, Thomas Mann. Sie alle waren mir ungemein wichtig. Einiges in der 27sten Stadt, auch einiges in den satirischen Passagen von Schweres Beben ist von Karl Kraus gestohlen. Thomas Manns feine Ironie gefiel mir immer sehr gut. So habe ich mich lange als eine Art deutscher Schriftsteller betrachtet.

My literary models were mostly Germans. Kafka was the number one person, and then, two years later, Karl Kraus. Much of the tone of “The Twenty-Seventh City”, but also some of the satiric passages of “Strong Motion” are stolen from Karl Kraus. Thomas Mann had a very fine irony which I found very sympathetic. So, all along, I’ve considered myself a kind of a German writer.

In another interview in Der Tagesspiegel earlier this year (German, English), Franzen talks about the German language.

Das Bild, das mir für die deutsche Sprache in den Sinn kommt, gleicht einer jener riesigen chinesischen Fabriken, die dem Arbeiter alles bieten: ein Kino, einen Volleyballplatz, Schlafsäle – eine ganze Firmenstadt, in der alles vernünftig angeordnet ist. In den englischen Gebäuden, so kommt es mir vor, geht man viel seltener mit dem Staubsauger durch. Die Fenster werden nicht so oft geputzt, der Schmutz hängt in den Ecken. Vor allem das gegenwärtige Amerikanisch kommt mir vor wie ein großes unordentliches Studentenwohnheim.

The image of the German language that springs into my mind resembles one of those enormous Chinese factories that provide everything for their workers: a cinema, a volleyball court, dormitories – a complete corporate city in which everything is rationally laid out. The vacuum cleaner is used less frequently in English houses – at least, that’s how it seems to me. The windows are not cleaned as often and there’s dirt hanging in the corners. Contemporary American in particular seems to me very much like a large untidy student dorm.