German Wikipedia blocked by court order/Amtsrichter sperrt Wikipedia

From Spiegel Online:

bq. Wer sich bei der deutschen Wikipedia informieren will, muss heute Umwege über die Web-Adresse der amerikanischen Mutterseite gehen: Die deutsche Domain ist nach einer Einstweiligen Verfügung gesperrt. Wikipedia will den Vorgang nicht kommentieren – woher die Verfügung kommt, scheint trotzdem klar.

The occasion of this injunction was the request of the parents of a hacker, Tron, who died in 1998, not to have his real name disclosed.

Thanks to Josip on the pt translators’ mailing list at Yahoogroups.

The rule of law / Der Rechtsstaat

Just a brief note on a big topic. Language Log takes up the topic of the rule of law, mentioning that President Bush often omits the direct article. So here are some unrelated notes on the term.

German political speeches often contain the term der Rechtsstaat, which the interpreter will render using variations on the rule of law or constitutional.

The term the rule of law is particularly associated with (although not coined by) A.V.Dicey. It is the third of the definitions given by the OED:

bq. rule of law: (a) with a and pl. : a valid legal proposition; (b) with the : a doctrine, deriving from theories of natural law, that in order to control the exercise of arbitrary power, the latter must be subordinated to impartial and well-defined principles of law; (c) with the : spec. in English law, the concept that the day-to-day exercise of executive power must conform to general principles as administered by the ordinary courts.

Here’s a definition of Rechtsstaat from Alpmann Brockhaus (their software is so much better than Creifelds’):

bq. Rechtsstaat: ein Staat, in dem die Ausübung der Staatsgewalt durch Recht und Gesetz geregelt und begrenzt wird und dessen Ziel die Gewährleistung von Gerechtigkeit im staatlichen und staatlich beeinflussten Bereich ist.
Obwohl das Rechtsstaatsprinzip anders als Demokratie, Republik, Sozialstaat und Bundesstaat in Art.20 GG nicht ausdrücklich erwähnt wird, wird es allgemein den in Art.20 Abs.1 GG genannten Staatsformmerkmalen hinzugerechnet.
© Alpmann Brockhaus Fachlexikon Recht, 2004 [CD-ROM].

The two are quite a good match, but interpreters can run into difficulties when the speaker suddenly contrasts the Rechtsstaat with the Unrechtsstaat, usually referring to Germany in the Third Reich. The play on words doesn’t seem possible to preserve.

Article on forensic linguistics

Good article on forensic linguistics in the Washington Times, with input from well-known forensic linguists (via Forensic Linguistics list).

Inter alia, Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was pinned down because he wrote, ‘You can’t eat your cake and have it too’, a less common form than ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too’, but more correct and used in middle English.

bq. Matters can be as simple as knowing that a fourth-grade dropout is unlikely to write a purported written confession to police containing the words “this perpetrator then approached my vehicle,” and as complicated as recognizing the existence of individual dialects and geographical disparities in certain words or phrases that aren’t always in the dictionary. Thus, a strip of land beside a street curb may be known variously as a “tree box,” a “county strip” or a “devil strip.”

Interpreting error / Fehler beim Dolmetschen

Apparently an interpreter working for a company (Lesley Howard Languages) hired by CNN made a slip on Saturday, saying Iran has the right to build nuclear weapons, instead of saying that Iran has the right to nuclear energy, and that “a nation that has civilization does not need nuclear weapons.” ( report – thanks to Patrick).

bq. The translation company, Lesley Howard Languages, apologized to CNN.
“Obviously, we’re taking it very, very seriously. We will never use him again,” owner Lesley Howard said, referring to the interpreter.
She said the same interpreter, who like other interpreters is contracted for individual projects, has done good work in the past, including for CNN.

For those not in the know: Lesley is the usual spelling for a woman’s name, and Leslie for a man (as in the case of Leslie Howard who played Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind, and Henry Higgins in Pygmalion). Of course, not all parents know that.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the military version of The Way to Amarillo (videoclip).

Translators and crime fiction/Übersetzer und Krimis

Hot off the press comes this report of last November: the Crime Writers Association awarded the Golden Dagger to Silence of the Grave, by Arnaldur Indridason (German Todeshauch – see It was translated into English by Bernard Scudder. But in future, translations will not be allowed. (This has nothing to do with the new sponsor, Duncan Lawrie Private Bank, after whom the prize is being renamed the Duncan Lawrie Dagger):

Books in translation present a particular problem. Are we rewarding the original writer or the translator? The problems of catching idiom and ‘voice’ in one language and reproducing this in another are formidable. The role of the translator is more creative than that of simply transcribing from one language into another. We are therefore actively seeking a sponsor for an award that will recognise the contribution of the translator and hope to make an announcement as soon as possible.
The Duncan Lawrie Dagger is the world’s premier award for new crime fiction. Last year there were over two hundred entries for its predecessor, the Gold Dagger. The introduction of the new Duncan Lawrie Dagger will almost certainly increase the entry again.
The decision to exclude translations is in no way jingoistic: this Dagger is open to anyone writing crime fiction anywhere in the world, as long as the book is written in English and published in the UK.

Guardian article of November.

A man called Carol

Carol Bennett’s Dictionary of Insurance has come out in the second edition (first edition was 1992).

This was recommended on the LIFT mailing list (ITI legal and financial translators). Apparently Witherby’s Insurance Dictionary (1997, still available from the publisher) is the standard.

I don’t like to be fussy, and the dictionary is scarcely less worth having for it, but I had to read Bennett on the tube to Nuremberg as the Fürther Nachrichten machine had iced up, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many typos and errors in cross-referencing in five minutes except in my own materials for students. What is the editor doing?

The required minimum margin entry referred to FSA (qv). But there is no entry for FSA, only for Financial Services Authority (FSA). Adventure had a cross-reference to marine adventure, but the entry was on maritime adventure. Then my eye was caught by Marital law at the top of the page, but the reference was really to Martial law.

This should not be interpreted as meaning that I spend all my time looking for mistakes.

German is the language of the courts/Gerichtssprache Deutsch

Bonn Blawg reports:

bq. I just finished drafting the claim before it was statute-barred. Since the claimant is a foreign entity in an English-speaking country, and the defendant (and its Denglish lawyers) prefer to use English, I attached the exhibits in English. And I mentioned that I assumed the court understood English. But that turned out to be a bad idea: the presiding judge explained tersely that regardless of my assumptions, the language of the court is German. So that means more money for the translator. Or for me, if the presiding judge should happen to trust my translation.

World cup vocabulary/WM-Wortschatz

Britische Botschaft: Fußballseite zur WM (deutsch).

The British Embassy in Berlin presents information online on the World Cup, in particular a PDF German-English football (soccer) glossary that looks promising. Extract:

|Abseitsstellung (f)| off-side position| Ein Spieler befindet sich in Abseitsstellung, wenn er der gegnerischen Torlinie näher ist als der Ball und der vorletzte Abwehrspieler = A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than the ball and the second last opponent|
|Beinschuss (m)| nutmeg| Er verpasste seinem Gegner einen Beinschuss = He nutmegged his opponent|
|Der Ball ist rund| The ball is round| Quote by the former German national coach Sepp Herberger, meaning that this is the only certainty in the game of football and anything else can happen|

From Computer Active, 5 – 18 January 2006, via Karen at (actually, here’s the article itself)