How not to flirt in German/Deutsche Sprache schwierige Sprache

ALTA, apparently a US translation company, reports in its blog on How not to flirt in German. I can see more than one reason why not.

Kann ich dir meine Handynummer geben, gerade falls Hälle über einfriert?
Can I give you my cell number in case Hell freezes over?

(Via Musings from an overworked translator)

LATER NOTE: The texts have been changed – better German, but the humour is missing. They can be found here too.

My original German header was a bit ruder than even I intended. I tend not to use my middle initial A. but it’s there!

Whose tracks?/Welches Tier?

These tracks lead down the bank through the snow and across the ice on the big pond in the Stadtpark. What tracks are they? The best suggestion so far is a heron (Reiher). It’s true that there are fish in there, so maybe a heron comes down in the early morning.

“Mein Kampf” in Germany/”Mein Kampf” in Deutschland

There have been some reports on prizes for literary translators recently. As one of my commenters said elsewhere, it’s time we had a prize for non-literary translators! I know literary translators do a great job, but I sometimes have a reprehensible feeling of ‘How can X have the nerve to be a full-time literary translator when it doesn’t pay the rent?’ Of course if that were followed, we would probably have no authors either, so it needs rethinking.

Anyway, the Times Online reports in Found in Translation on the TLS translation prizes. It also mentions Ralph Manheim’s translation of Mein Kampf:

Ralph Manheim, an American, was commissioned to translate Mein Kampf in the early years of the Second World War. It has remained the definitive, scholarly edition of a volume that has long been banned in Germany. Its peculiar skill lies in replicating the ranting, incoherent and prolix tone of the original.

(For another early English translation, see the end of this blog entry)

That ‘banned in Germany’ is not exactly true, as has been mentioned here in comments before. The copyright is owned by the Land of Bavaria and has been relinqished for the English, Swedish and Dutch editions: I quote Wikipedia (English and German):

The government of Bavaria, in agreement with the federal government of Germany, refuses to allow any copying or printing of the book in Germany, and opposes it also in other countries but with less success. Owning and buying the book is legal. Trading in old copies is legal as well, unless it is done in such a fashion as to “promote hatred or war,” which is generally illegal under anti-revisionist laws.

The German article reports that the Munich Institut für Zeitgeschichte has begun to prepare a critical edition. Work began in 2009 and is expected to take about 5 years. (The copyright runs out in 2015).

The English article reports that there was a defective official translation into English, discovered in 2008:

A previously unknown English translation was discovered in 2008 which was produced by the official Nazi printing office, Franz Eher Verlag. The Nazi propaganda ministry hired James Murphy to create an English version of Mein Kampf they hoped to use to promote Nazi goals in English speaking countries. While Murphy was in Germany, he became less enchanted with Nazi ideology and made some statements the Propaganda Ministry disliked. As a result, they asked him to leave Germany immediately. He was not able to take any of his notes but later sent his wife back to obtain his partial translation.[5] These notes were later used to create the Murphy translation. The Nazi government did not abandon their English translation efforts. They used their own people to finish the translation and it was published in very small numbers in Germany. At least one copy found its way to a British/American Prisoner of War camp. This version is filled with errors including punctuation and grammar mistakes. It is however an interesting effort because it was the only official English translation produced by the Nazi government and printed on Nazi printing presses. This translation has been re-published and is available as a new printed book.

This translation is available at Project Gutenberg.

LATER NOTE: I see that a James Murphy translation appeared in the USA in 2003, so the above is not quite correct. But anyone who is interested can pursue it further! James Murphy apparently died in 1946.

EVEN LATER NOTE: A FAZ article on James Murphy can be found in the Deutsch-Österreichisches Informationsjournal (scroll down to ‘Wie die NS-Propaganda um die Gunst des englischen Publikums warb’). There is some detail about Murphy’s life in Germany.

(Thanks to Sarah for original Times link)

German courts conducting cases in English/Die Gerichtssprache soll nicht nur Deutsch sein

Some cases can already be conducted in English in Cologne. The FAZ reports:
Deutsche Gerichte verhandeln nun auch auf Englisch

The German Judicature or Court Constitution Act (Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz) provides that the language of the courts is German. There is now an inistiative of the ministers of justice of North-Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg to have the statute altered, but the Cologne Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) has already made it possible for civil cases to be heard in English, provided that current law permits it – i.e. for trial, but not in writing. (The regional courts – Landgerichte – in Aachen, Bonn and Cologne, and the Cologne Higher Regional Court have set up particular chambers which can hold an oral hearing in English).

The article has a silly illustration – a photo of a row of very small Langenscheidt dictionaries!

The ministers argue that the most interesting and lucrative cases involving German undertakings are often conducted in US or English courts, at the request of English-speaking business associates, and as a result an English-speaking jurisdiction is chosen at the outset.

This is a bit worrying. There are complaints about how much got lost when there was translation into German, or presumably interpreting in German, and a belief that judges who have worked in international law firms or acquired a foreign LL.M. can speak English. I have no doubt they can, but their ability to write it seems not to be greatly trained abroad. There are a surprising number of German academics and lawyers, educated in English and having spent a year abroad, who write specialist English by translating word-for-word from German.

Brigitte Kamphausen, stellvertretende Vorsitzende des Richterbunds, sagt: „In meinen sieben Jahren als Vorsitzende einer solchen Kammer habe ich oft erlebt, wie durch die Übersetzungen ins Deutsche viele Nuancen und Details verlorengehen.“ Auch für ausländische Kläger und Beklagte wäre es nach ihrer Ansicht angenehmer, wenn sie den Gang der mündlichen Verhandlung „ungefiltert“ verfolgen könnten; den zugrunde liegenden Vertrag hätten sie schließlich auch meist auf Englisch ausgehandelt. Die nötige Sprachkompetenz traut Kamphausen vielen ihrer Kollegen durchaus zu. Denn zunehmend gebe es Richter, die zuvor in einer internationalen Anwaltskanzlei gearbeitet oder einen angelsächsischen Zusatzabschluss als Master of Laws (LL.M.) erworben hätten.

Note also the comments on the FAZ site.

Year-end presents/Werbegeschenke

Do other people use these? Names removed. The hand is from a physiotherapy practice I go to – it contains a pull-out metal tape measure.

The rubber person with tie is from an insurance company I have a good opinion of but I don’t think I use them. Does this figure have a function? Perhaps it would help a key to float if it were light enough and there were a flood?

The metal container is from an agency I haven’t worked for (as far as I remember): I think you can put business cards in there, but you can also make little paper balls and shoot them at it to see if you can aim at the two holes (a German football exercise).

Supervising the police IPCC/Polizei-Aufsichtsbehörde

Essex police moved in mysterious ways when they dealt with the case of Lee Balkwell, who died in an unfortunate accident in a concrete mixer – see Observer article:

The emergency crews called to the concrete firm on a farm in Essex in the early hours of a summer morning met a scene that has stayed with them to this day. Mangled between the drum and chassis of a concrete-mixer lorry was the torso of a man, his legs twisted and resting on a pile of dried cement. One paramedic wrote “?foul play” in his pocketbook. Another said she thought she was looking at a suspicious death, and a third said he was reluctant to touch the body in case he damaged evidence.

One of the early contradictions of the inquiry was when detectives said they had treated the death of Mr Balkwell as suspicious for 35 days. Yet the day after he was found, his clothing was destroyed, without being examined by a forensic scientist, on the orders of a senior officer, and within 48 hours of the death, the police had told the family of the 33-year-old haulage driver that he had been killed in a freak accident while cleaning the drum of the lorry at 1am.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has arranged for an enquiry.

On the beck blog, Professor Dr. Henning Ernst Müller asks whether Germany does not also need such a body. The IPCC was founded in 2004 after human rights organizations had called for it for years; amnesty international first suggested such a body for Germany five years ago.

Nach den monatelangen inzwischen eingestellten Ermittlungen gegen zwei Polizeibeamte im Fall des getöteten Tennessee Eisenberg in Regensburg und seit dem vom BGH aufgehobenen Freispruch im Fall des im Gewahrsam verbrannten Ouri Jallow in Dessau steht das Thema polizeiunabhängiger Ermittlungen bei schwerwiegenden Vorwürfen gegen Polizeibeamte im Raum. So verschieden die Anlässe sind: Eine Behörde wie die IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) im Vereinigten Königreich England und Wales, die Beschwerden gegen die Polizei nachgeht und bei schweren Vorwürfen diese auch selbst untersucht, hätte wohl in beiden angesprochenen Fällen selbständig ermittelt.