Depressing German news

If you thought the election news in Germany was bad, just listen to Deutsche Welle’s Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten (full text available to print out).

bq. Jeden Tag finden Sie hier die 10-Uhr-Nachrichten aus dem deutschen Radioprogramm – langsam und verständlich gesprochen. Neben der Audio-Datei zum Herunterladen (MP3) finden Sie auch den vollen Text zum Ausdrucken.

I think they have someone speaking slowly and clearly, but they have slowed it down marginally, in a sort of reverse Chipmunks move. It sounds really funereal.

In this way you can learn to understand spoken German and finish up wishing you’d never started.

(Via Desbladet)

New translator’s weblog

Robin Stocks links to a new translator’s weblog. Narasimhan Raghavan has started Musings of a Translator. He also has a Tamil blog, for those who can read that kind of thing. And he links to a list of English-language Tamil blogs, if I expressed that correctly. Here is Aravind:

bq. For some vague reason, the act of playing Snooker has been associated with bad-guys in tamil cinema. I just cannot recall any tam movie where the hero/good guys are shown playing snooker and I can recite off-hand at least 10 movie names where the villains are shown playing snooker and plotting a frightful death for the hero or some such thing. I wonder if there is some strong subconscious cultural thing that’s influencing this factor.

Piano lessons for lawyers/Piano-Mann der Zweite

Richard Meyrick, a classical pianist who had to interrupt his career for illness, offers piano lessons to relieve tension. Up to 70% of his clients (pupils?) are lawyers. The Times Online reports:

bq. Many of Meyrick’s clients will, during their working day, inhabit a world that is as far removed from Horowitz and Rachmaninov as possible. All, though, are unstinting in their praise for him. “He has a real gift for teaching, and the experience of practising with him is incredibly uplifting,” Harry Anderson, the former head of litigation at Herbert Smith and now a consultant for the firm, says. “It’s great to be able to escape the office and switch off from the law.”

A competitor is Jonathan Phillips. Perhaps piano-playing is the new city gym:

bq. Jonathan runs a successful Piano studio in the Cotswolds, where his clients learn on his own Steinway concert grand piano, and he will be opening a studio in Mayfair, London in March 2005, and at Canary Wharf later this year. The London studio is aimed at giving professional adults (who perhaps learned when they were younger and would like to rekindle their enthusiasm) the opportunity to work with a professional concert pianist, in a relaxed environment within a reasonable distance of their places of work in central London.

Franconian political discussion

I heard this when I was coming up the escalator at the underground today. Two middle-aged, short Franconian men who didn’t look like masters of industry:

A (with pauses) Merkel – Merkel – Merkel.

B Ja, ja!

A. Aber Merkel.

B. Aber der Schröder bleibt.

A. Der Schröder bleibt. Die Schrotkugel bleibt.

B. Ja, ja!

A. Aber die Merkel aa! (= auch)

Of course, this may have been the end of a longer conversation.

Potential coalitions

There has been some discussion in the last few days about possible coalitions and I did think of mentioning them.

Ampelkoalition: a ‘traffic-lights’ coalition: red, green and yellow (amber, we would call the traffic light). Red: SPD, green: the Greens, yellow: FDP (Liberal Democrats). It always amazed me in the Bavarian translators’ oral exams, when my German colleague asked a candidate what an Ampelkoalition was, how none of them were capable of guessing it.

Große Koalition: grand coalition: black (CDU/CSU) and red (SPD)

Jamaika-Koalition or Schwampel (short for schwarze Ampel or black traffic lights): black, green and yellow. The commentators on TV this morning were behaving as if they’d only just heard this word, but it’s been around a week or so, because I have been thinking of blogging it, but I didn’t realize it would be the most likely (or least unlikely) alternative.

Mrs. Tilton (whose weekly spider photos I covet) has written on the topic in A Fistful of Euros, which is a group blog.

Now I hear that the significance of the colours in the Jamaican flag is: green for the land, yellow for the sun, black for hardship. How does this relate to the Pan-African colours, where the black represents the skin colour?

Anyway, the CSU did not have black balloons (unlike Mr. Bleck, the coffee chain – matt black balloons are great, but perhaps parents wouldn’t like them for their children). The Links-Partei is using red, like the SPD, but is represented as purple in graphics.

None of these coalitions appear very likely, except probably the grand coalition. But I digress.

Semicolon: for or agin?

I mentioned the San Francisco semicolon story in an earlier entry; now Derek Thornton, on, reports that the Financial Times has a semicolon survey /September 16, so still online now).

bq. ”You’re kidding,” said Ann Keatings, an applied linguist, as she absorbed the news I had brought from the US, where I have lived for the past 12 years: Americans see the semicolon as punctuation’s axis of evil. Or at least many of them do. “But I like semicolons,” she protested, “they allow a writer to go further.”

I have thought about this. I use semicolons and colons, but I must admit I don’t like semicolons in email. I can think of two or three people who use them, and it has a sort of effete effect.

The FT article, by Trevor Butterworth, is very interesting. But as Derek points out, their survey is ambiguous:

Are you for or against the semicolon? Answer: Yes / No

My answer is yes and no, or, as the Germans say, jein.

German view of US tort law/Deutsche Ansichten über Recht der USA

The German-American Law Journal blog links to an old findlaw article by Anthony J. Sebok on How Germany Views U.S. Tort Law.

bq. From conversations with German friends and from reading the German press, I had always suspected Germany’s view of the U.S. tort system was conflicted, to say the least. But this impression was driven home to me this summer, when I taught German law students a basic first year course in torts, the same course I teach in New York City.

Two things in the article struck me from the British point of view: the British don’t know the Socratic method any more than the Germans do, and the English have a book, Kemp & Kemp on Quantum of Damages, not exactly like German Tabellen, but indicating the kind of awards that judges have been making.

There are some excellent points in the article. The conclusion is a bit oversimplified. I think it’s true that most European nations do not share the U.S. political culture, but nevertheless their tort law can take a variety of forms.

Meanwhile, the ABA Journal has some interesting articles online, including one called Vive les Class Actions (shouldn’t that be Vivent…?): Europe Is Showing More Interest in Legal Mechanisms That Have Come Under Fire in the United States

Points discussed include class actions, plea bargaining and antitrust (restrictive practices) suits.

Here’s an article in German on class actions – I know I saw one recently, but this is from 2004: Gibt es Sammelklagen in Deutschland?

Last election pictures / Letzte Wahlfotos

The final day of campaigning still suggests a grand coalition:


with a surprise last-minute surge from C & A:


Here is an anonymized CSU town councillor eating a red and green lollipop:


Some politicians of note actually braved the sparse crowds in the Fürth Füzo (on Thursday; note typical Green supporters in background, bread advert with election theme at right of shop window) – this heckler’s main words were ‘Benzinpreise’ and ‘Scheiße’:


New Fürth weblog/Neues Weblog aus Fürth

Ralph Stenzel has produced a Fürth blog. We must keep an eye on it. I have now removed my Fürth blog, Fürther Freiheiten, completely, but I intend to have a Fürth page if I’m still in Fürth when I get round to changing to different blog software.

In this connection, I might mention the Nuremberg blog plan. It’s much easier to follow if you click on Durchblick!

I think the best-known local blog is Lisa Neun‘s, with all the caricatures. She is in Erlangen, though, so she had to choose Vach as the nearest point to her.