Bundestag returns badly translated EU documents/Bundestag schickt schlecht übersetzte EU-Dokumente zurück

The Local reports that dozens of badly translated EU documents were returned by the German Bundestag as incomprehensible.

According to a report in Tuesday’s Saarbrücker Zeitung newspaper, the Bundestag has had to send over a hundred important EU documents back in this legislative period alone, because its committee members could not work out what they were supposed to say.

Some EU documents are now seen as a “consultation obstacle” – and this at a time when parliamentarians across Europe are fighting to tackle Europe’s debt crisis.

The flawed translations have apparently slowed the work of the interior, finance, budgetary, economic, and defence committees in the German parliament. The paper also says that German versions of the documents are sometimes missing altogether.

Note also the comments.

Yet the translators working in EU offices at Brussels or Luxembourg are earning huge wage and enjoying tremendous benefits, compared to their peers. Shameful.

Nonsense, none of the incomprehensible stuff will have been produced by the translators working in EU offices. Most of the work is outsourced to translation agencies, who further outsource it to freelancers. The lowest tender gets the contract. I’d put this down to cost-cutting and the use of inscrupulous middlemen, nothing else.

Of course, a good opportunity for ill-informed ranting on EU translation costs:

Yay! Spend more of our tax money to re-translate badly translated documents.

“The EU institutions spent around €1 billion on translation and interpreting in 2007, representing around 1% of the EU budget or €2.50 per citizen. This figure would continue to rise by 5% annually.”


Here is the lowdown on that from DG Translation:

2 – How much does DG Translation cost?

€300m a year (estimated) — or some €0.60 for every EU citizen.

Since 2004, the Commission has been able to handle vastly increased demand for translations as new countries have joined the EU — and continue its primary duty of providing legislation in all official languages — without increasing costs unduly.

In 2004–07, the number of official EU languages doubled from 11 to 23, but Commission translation costs increased by only 20%.

According to certain very rough estimates, the cost of all language services in all EU institutions amounts to less than 1% of the annual general budget of the EU. Divided by the population of the EU, this comes to around €2 per person per year.

Here is the original article in the Saarbrücker Zeitung.

Der Vorsitzende des Europaausschusses, Gunther Krichbaum, sagte der Zeitung, die EU-Kommission habe schon vor Jahren eine neue Übersetzungsstrategie versprochen. „Doch passiert ist bis heute leider gar nichts.“ FDP-Experte Stefan Ruppert beklagte: „Es werden immer mehr.“ Auf Antrag der Koalitionsfraktionen wird sich der Bundestag an diesem Donnerstag mit dem Problem beschäftigen. Nach dem Willen von Union und FDP soll die Bundesregierung auf bessere Übersetzungen pochen und dafür sorgen, dass genügend Mittel im EU-Haushalt bereitgestellt werden.

The Bundestag will be discussing the matter on Thursday.

Also in Die Welt (thanks, Dawid).

Football 2012/Fußball 2012

Not an exhaustive selection.


Bode Galerie & Edition (zehn Freund müsst Ihr sein?):

Cherry yogurt:

Green-and-white pretzel to celebrate Fürth going into the Bundesliga (probably filled with cream cheese and rolled in chopped chives):


Car park:

On the underground:

At law blog, Udo Vetter shows a video with a football theme advertising the Deutscher Anwaltverein.


I see that the MacMillan Open Dictionary thinks Zugzwang has entered the (non-chess) English language:

The Spanish debt-drama shows that Europe is in Zugzwang – a situation in chess when there is no useful move – every possible move will make the situation worse.

(Submitted from United Kingdom)

What do people think? I find this claim highly dubious. The writer, Laine Redpath Cole, also seems to suffer from the ‘the Germans have a word for it but we don’t’ disease.

Zugzwang is used in English as a chess word. It comes from German, and in German it’s used both as a chess word and in a figurative sense. But the example ‘submitted from United Kingdom’ above explains the word in attempting to introduce it.

It looks to me like the work of a translator from German who didn’t know what to do. And it comes up with reference to the EU.

Via Lisa John

“Impressum” in UK

The topic of the German Impressum has come up here frequently. And elsewhere.

Some claim that it’s a German phenomenon, but it’s actually an EU thing. However, it’s implemented differently in different countries.

At the IT-recht Blog, Max-Lion Keller has a post in German on the situation in the UK at Impressumpflicht in Großbritannien.

From this, it appears that the requirement mainly relates to online sellers, whereas the German requirement is a bit wider – for example, my weblog could be called commercial in Germany if it’s seen as promoting my translation business (a questionable matter).

Anyway, even the German implementation of the directive doesn’t actually use the word Impressum. I wonder who first used it? Hence an English translation as legal notice or maybe just contact is possible but can’t be said to be binding. The main idea is that the person responsible for the website should be contactable with a minimum of clicks.

I found an online discussion of the matter which did little to increase my understanding. My favourite bit was the commenter who had done a web search for contact + imprint and found only German sites!

LATER NOTE: I have seen the English website of a big German translation company using the term editorial information. That seems wrong too (their French version looks better). The word imprint is only used in connection with a printed publication, such as a book or a newspaper. However, the word imprint is not normally used as a heading there – it is just used by the printers when they refer to it: ‘Where shall we put the imprint?’ And in that context, imprint means editorial information. I imagine the old situation in Germany was that Impressum meant the same thing but was actually used as a heading in texts. But when it was taken over for websites, it meant something more like contact information as required by law.

Of course, in a website you need a headword to click on, but nevertheless no single word has been established in the English-speaking world.


Archbishop of Canterbury on German TV (ZDF news): ‘Not everyone appreciates how genuinely funny the Queen can be’.
ZDF interpreter: ‘Die Königin kann sehr lustig sein – das kommt nicht bei allen gut an’. I have the same problem.

It seems less than 60 years since we celebrated the Coronation at my junior school. That’s probably because it is only 59 years.

The Local reports:

…perhaps the highlight of Germany’s ambassadorial celebrations will be Sunday’s Rhine flotilla, where 800 “Anglophile Rhinelanders” will join Ambassador Simon McDonald aboard the MS Rheinfantasie as she sails towards Düsseldorf.

They and others aboard more boats will take cucumber sandwiches and tea as the Queen herself simultaneously enjoys a similar naval parade on the Thames.

Curses! I have no cucumber. And no bread either. I have got some home-made scotch quails’ eggs (perhaps that should be quails’ scotch eggs – I think they were French quails, and the sausage meat was Franconian). Highly recommended.

Here’s a display of stuff to make your Jubilee cakes. Not sure what the Dr. Oetker gelatine is doing there – not very patriotic, I say.

I expect British Corner Shop will be selling these off cheap soon.