Franconian and Bavarian logos/Landessymbole

Some translators would like to have their Land logo on their business cards, but apparently that isn’t permitted. For this purpose, a Land symbol is created for anyone to use: Das Landessymbol Freistaat Bayern:

Um den Wünschen der Bürger nach einem genehmigungsfreien Zeichen dennoch entsprechen zu können, hat das Bayerische Staatsministerium des Innern 1987 folgende allgemeine Genehmigung erteilt:

The site shows six symbols, including three for Franconia.

The Franconian one is quite nice. I suppose I could even merge it with two Ms – if I wanted to use it. I’m sure one could do something exciting with the Bavarian one, too. One could change the colours, for a start! Or is there a sanction against that?

In other Bavarian news, the Bavarian Federal Patents Court has held that the Weißwurst does not have to be made in Munich – see MarkenBlog.

But may one cut it with a knife, or must the contents be sucked out?

Fake non-Franconian Viking swords?/Markenpiraterie vor 1000 Jahren

Tests at the Wallace Collection reveal that the best Viking swords bore the name Ulfberht, apparently a Franconian name. Franconia has moved in the past 1000 years, though, so this may even have been in Solingen. Many museums have fake Viking swords of about the same age as the good ones, but made of inferior steel because the Russians were blocking the trade route (a familiar story). The Viking Rune writes:

The tests show that high quality steel of the Ulfberht swords is from the mines on the territory of modern Afghanistan and Iran. However, in the 11th century the trade route was blocked by Russians and the supply of steel with high carbon content ended. The demand was huge and soon low quality fakes flooded the Scandinavian market. In outward appearance they were identical to genuine Ulfberhts and their blades were very sharp. Nevertheless, due to the fact that the carbon content of the steel from which they were forged had only a third of the same in genuine high quality swords, they could fatally disserve Vikings who bought them.

The main area where the swords were found was further north, along the Baltic coast and in Scandinavia, so it is suggested that the name Ulfberht may simply have been an invented brand name rather than the name of the maker, and the fake swords an early form of brand piracy.

Markenfälschung schon im Mittelalter.

Ulfberht makes me think of Dilbert, Dogbert and Catbert.

This was reported by the Guardian in December 2008, but has now filtered through to Spiegel Online.

(Via IPKat).

Legal blog seeks translation help/US-Blawg sucht Hilfe mit Übersetzung

David Kopel at The Volokh Conspiracy seeks help with translation of the Mexican firearms statute:

Here’s a new project to utilize the immense collective mind of VC readers: an English translation of the Mexican firearms statute. The Mexican law, in Spanish, is here. My translation thereof into English is here. Neither the intern who did the first round of the translation, nor I, speak Spanish as a native language. Indeed, my Spanish is extremely primitive; I know less than an American middle schooler with one year of Spanish. Although I am developing an interesting vocabulary, of words such as “fuego circular” (rimfire).

The initial translation was done via machine, and then reviewed and modified by very inexpert humans. So I solicit readers with good Spanish skills to provide suggestions for improvements in any or all of the 91 Articles of the Mexican firearms law. Please focus on improving the translation, and not on arguing about policy questions involving the law.

Note the comments.

(Via Riccardo, who commented)

Filing styles/Badische Aktenheftung

I remember a speaker saying that filing styles are different in Baden and Württemberg. Well, they have only been united since 1951.

So when I read the following in Im Namen des Volkers, my suspicions were aroused:

In BaWü werden die Akten meines Wissens nicht in Aktenordnern abgeheftet, sondern oben links durchbohrt und mit einem Faden aufgehängt. Macht sich gut beim Aktenlesen.

Sure enough, the first comment put him right:

Auch in BaWü ist das recht speziell: In der ordentlichen Gerichtsbarkeit gibt es im OLG-Bezirk Karlsruhe diese “badische Aktenheftung”, die Du beschreibst. Im OLG-Bezirk Stuttgart wird ganz normal geheftet.

Anders wiederum in der Sozialgerichtsbarkeit: Die verfährt landesweit nach dem badischen Modell. Bei der Verwaltungsgerichtsbarkeit weiß ich es nicht genau, aber jedenfalls der VGH und die VGe in Karlsruhe und Freiburg verfolgen das badische Modell.

And the last linked to a Wikipedia entry on Badische Aktenheftung, with illustrations.

That looks like a form of joining pages that would be good for translators too. You can read more of the original pages than in most methods. And I found the translation for bodger: Aktenstecher:

At least, I learnt it was called a bodger. Now I find only furniture-makers’ bodgers and bull terriers called Bodger. The sewing of legal documents seems to have become obsolete, but I do use a bodger for sewing translations if they are too big to bind easily.

The Aktenstecher can be bought from Vollzugliches Arbeitswesen (‘Wir lassen Sie nicht sitzen!’).

For more on Prussia and Bavaria, see the entry. There was a discussion on colours of files in various Länder in earlier comments.

Pro bono

A post in a BDÜ forum gave this link from the City of Konstanz.

The heading is ‘Hilfe für Migranten – Ehrenamtliche SprachmittlerInnen für ausländische BürgerInnen­’ – Help for migrants – pro bono translators and interpreters for foreigners.

It describes an attempt to build up a network of volunteer translators and interpreters for situations where a sworn translator or translator is not required by law, in social welfare and medical matters.

“Ein chinesisches Sprichwort sagt: Den Menschen zu helfen ist die Quelle des Glücks”, so Shu Jiuan Widmann bei der kürzlich erfolgten Präsentation des Projektes “Ehrenamtliche SprachmittlerInnen” im Landratsamt. Shu Jiuan Widmann ist in Taiwan geboren und spricht aus ihrer reichhaltigen Erfahrung als ehrenamtlich tätige Mittlerin zwischen den Kulturen. Nun wird sie mit dazu beigetragen, das Projekt “Ehrenamtliche SprachmitllerInnen” auf die Beine zu stellen, in dessen Rahmen sie künftig die Rolle der Ansprechpartnerin für die Sprachmitllernnen wie auch für die nachfragenden Institutionen übernimmt. Initiiert wurde das Projekt gemeinsam von Annette Breitsameter-Grössl von der Kontakt- und Koordinierungsstelle für Bürgerschaftliches Engagement im Landkreis Konstanz und der Integrationsbeauftragten der Stadt Konstanz, Elke Cybulla.

Ziel ist es, einen landkreisweiten ehrenamtlich tätigen Dolmetscherservice für gesundheitliche und soziale Einrichtungen, die nicht den vereidigten DolmetscherInnen vorbehalten sind, bereitzustellen und zu etablieren. Alle im Landkreis ehrenamtlich tätigen SprachhelferInnen sollen in eine Adress- und Telefonliste eingetragen werden, die beim AusländerInnenamt des Landratsamtes und der Integrationsbeauftragten der Stadt Konstanz hinterlegt ist.

Some training is intended, but it looks as if the only qualifications are speaking the foreign language and German, and ideally knowing Germany.

Representatives of the BDÜ were particularly concerned at the lack of quality control. And one person said that she would be happy to interpret free of charge for a psychotherapist or doctor, but only on condition that the psychotherapist or doctor also made no charge. Why is it always the interpreters and translators who are expected to work for nothing?

A Google search on “ehrenamtliche Dolmetscher” reveals numerous such schemes.

English language ruins German economy/Firmensprache Englisch hat verheerende Auswirkungen

Some years ago, research revealed that many English-language advertising slogans used by German companies are not understood by the German customers. Here’s a Spiegel report on the subject (July 2004). Endmark in Cologne investigated the matter in 2003 and established, inter alia, that Douglas’ ‘Come in and find out’ was understood by many to mean ‘Find your way in and then find your way out’. Probably based on this, Isabel Kick in Dortmund wrote a diploma thesis in which she measured the skin resistance of twenty-four people and found that they reacted weakly to English slogans and strongly to German ones, such as ‘Geiz ist geil’ (I wonder if they were influenced by the press in that last one, which was mocked throughout the Republic, and I wonder how representative a sample of twenty-four people is). Her work was published as a paperback in September 2004, but the survey took on a life of its own on the Internet, rather like those examples of bad English in hotels all over the world that many translators like to jolly up their websites with (as points out, these come from Richard Lederer and were probably never translations).

Let’s take the chance to acknowledge Endmark and Richard Lederer, those victims of the Internet!

Now if I am in a foreign hotel, I need to understand the signs. But what about English in advertising slogans? I don’t like it, but is it meant to be understood? English on T-shirts clearly doesn’t need to make sense: it’s just creating an impression. That’s the problem – not that no-one understands it, but that no-one cares if anyone understands it.

Anyway, an article in the otherwise highly respectable Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung today (can be purchased online under the title Klartext tut gut) by Sebastian Balzter and Julia Löhr, reports that Denglish is on the retreat in companies and lambasts the practice of declaring English to be a company language.

Der Tiefpunkt? “Das war das Jahr 2000.” Wenn Reiner Pogarell von Krisen spricht, dann interessieren ihn nicht Bilanzen und Aktienkurse – sondern die Sprache, in der über sie geredet wird. “Wenn ein deutsches Unternehmen mit 10 000 Mitarbeitern damals ein Werk in Tschechien mit 200 Mitarbeitern gekauft hat, dann wurde deshalb Englisch zur Arbeitssprache auf allen Ebenen erklärt”, berichtet Pogarell, der mit seinem Paderborner “Institut für Betriebslinguistik” seit 20 Jahren Unternehmen in Sprachfragen berät. “Das galt als modern. Was für eine Eselei!” In den Konferenzen verstummten fortan die Fachkräfte, weil ihnen die passenden englischen Wörter für ihr Expertenwissen fehlten. Die logische Konsequenz, sagt Pogarell: “Die Plapperer haben alles an sich gerissen.”

It appears there are rumours of this kind, that the real experts were deprived of a voice because they did not know the technical terminology in English and this had serious economic consequences. None other than Professor Walter Krämer (here’s a Zeit article about him, Prof. Besserwisser), who supervised and probably suggested Isabel Kick’s thesis in Dortmund, is looking for a student to research the relationship between stock market prices and decisions on company language. He happens to be the President of the Verein Deutsche Sprache too. Krämer’s favourite piece of evidence relates to the car industry: from 1999 to 2003, Daimler-Chrysler shares dropped in value by 30 billion euros, while Porsche’s increased by several hundred million euros:

Krämers bevorzugtes Indiz für den dahinterstehenden Verdacht stammt aus der Autobranche: Von 1999 bis 2003 nahm seinen Berechnungen zufolge der Börsenwert des damals neu geschmiedeten, inzwischen schon wieder zerbrochenen Daimler-Chrysler-Konzerns um 30 Milliarden Euro ab, während der Wert von Porsche um mehrere hundert Millionen Euro zunahm. “Vielleicht war das kein Zufall”, mutmaßt Krämer. Die Zuffenhausener hätten stets an der Arbeitssprache Deutsch festgehalten, die Stuttgarter dagegen 1999 mit Rücksicht auf die neuen Kollegen in Detroit und um der Globalisierung willen ihre Konzernsprache auf Englisch umgestellt.

Following this, the article quotes the old chestnut ‘Come in and find out’ as evidence that English jargon is not understood. Who said the Germans didn’t have a sense of humour? There is more, but I have to do something more serious now.

(Thanks to Marisa)

Hans Beck

When I first moved to Fürth, in 1987, I lived in a new flat in the south part of the town. Our landlord was Hans Beck, who was famous as the inventor of Playmobil toys. He didn’t, as far as I know, own other flats. He was always very pleasant to deal with, on the few occasions we had any contact with him. He died recently, and I nearly blogged it, but only now have I realized that his obituary has appeared in English in so many papers: the New York Times, the Times, the Independent (the one I saw today) and many others. It’s also been widely blogged.

Online sources for basic English law/Englisches Recht online

A query came up on a mailing list today from an attorney qualified in the USA who is about to have to teach something on English law. He wanted to know sources for the courts and the basics.

I will list a few sources here. I go for the briefest and simplest, because I find it easier to learn about a foreign legal system that way. This list is not exhaustive, of course.

Via Delia Venables, a lot of links can be found. Delia was a very early aficionado of law on the internet. It’s necessary to click on Primarily for students, then Resources for law students, then Introductory material. (Via Information for lawyers, you can find a list of legal newspapers and journals, too).

One of the links Delia gives is to a set of resources for school students studying A Level Law: A Level Law Notes prepared by staff at St Brendan’s Sixth Form College in Bristol. These were always useful, but they have not been updated since September 2008.

She also links to a barrister called Nik Nicol, who has elementary materials online (also in Spanish).

Two other learning sites that were new to me and look good are LoretoLore – from Loreto College in Manchester, actually a blog, so you can follow its RSS feed – and Lawbore, the site of the City University in London.

Another good place to start with the basics is Wikipedia, for example the entry on English law.

Another suggestion made on the mailing list was the site of Translegal, who have a lot of teaching resources. They publish books on International Legal English, which are used by many EFL-trained teachers.

Franconia reduced in size/Franken schrumpft

Guardian article about the Weinereien in Berlin, where (after 8 pm at least) you pay what you want:

The Berlin Weinerei are the inadvertent brainchild of Jürgen Stumpf, who moved to the city in 1996 from the Bavarian town of Franken, where his family owns a five-hectare vineyard. He opened up a small wine shop selling his family’s wares in the rapidly emerging east of the city, and invited his nextdoor neighbour, Argentinean immigrant Mariano Goni, to cook for guests on Thursday nights.

I liked the ‘rapidly emerging east of the city’ too, and even better ‘Prenzlauer Berg, an area in the former east’.

Whatever happened to British spelling? ‘Reisling’ is traditional Grauniad, but ‘assholes’?

…sometimes there are assholes who spend the entire night here and pay €5,” said Mariano. “Especially Spanish people. …

(Mariano is from Argentina).

The New York Times understood it better:

Their owner hails from the north Bavarian region of Franconia, and more than half the wines are produced in Germany.

The last word/Das letzte Wort

In criminal trials in England and Wales and the USA, the defence usually has the last word (not in every state, though). In Germany, it is the defendant in person who has the last word (sometimes along the lines of ‘I’m sorry and I won’t ever do it again’).

In an old entry in Strafprozesse und andere Ungereimtheiten, Werner Siebers tells a story where the defendant should have been forbidden from having the last word.

When three potential witnesses turn out to have emigrated to Israel and the robbed petrol station manager is ill, and on top of that the defendant has been in pre-trial detention for months without an arrest warrant, and the public prosecutor requests an acquittal and compensation (for all three defendants), it is not good for the last word to be ‘And I’m sorry we didn’t pay for the petrol’. (Both the interpreter and the defendant had been told there should be no last word by him).

Das “Letzte Wort” wurde erteilt und gegen die mit der Dolmetscherin und dem Mandanten getroffene Absprache stand dieser auf und begann, in seiner Heimatsprache Ausführungen zu machen. Als die Übersetzung kam, bin ich fast vom Stuhl gekippt. Da hat der sich doch tatsächlich dafür entschuldigt, dass man gemeinsam vergessen habe, das Benzin zu bezahlen.

Erheiterung beim Richter. Verurteilung wegen gemeinschaftlichen Tankbetruges, deshalb auch keine Haftentschädigung. Seit diesem Tag ist das “Letzte Wort” für mich das “Verhängnisvolle Wort”.

Werner Siebers has had a numnber of entries on problems with a Bulgarian interpreter in recent months.