Dictionary of differences Austrian and German law

Wörterbuch rechtsterminologischer Unterschiede Österreich–Deutschland (Österreichisches Deutsch – Sprache der Gegenwart, Band 16) von Rudolf Muhr (Autor), Marlene Peinhopf (Autor)

This book contains 2000 Austrian legal terms with their German equivalents and much more. There are English and French translations too. You can look inside the book at amazon. 

The German-law equivalent is given if there is one. 43 Austrian terms and 492 German terms have no equivalent in the other legal system. 

For example: for Abfertigung we find it is a statutory term – the German equivalent is Abfindung, the English severance pay and the French indemnité(s) de licenciement. There are definitions for both the Austrian and German terms. Where a term doesn’t exactly exist in German law, there  is still a note explaining the situation in more detail. 

I’ve only skimmed the book so far. the use of English translations is of great interest. My eye fell on Landesgericht – circuit court (UK) / regional court, and Landbutter: country butter – I’m not too sure about those, but most of the English looks good.

There are other books in the series, in particular Heidemarie Markhardt’s Wörterbuch der österreichischen Rechts-, Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungsterminologie – see earlier post.


I have now had a closer first look at the dictionary. It arises from work on Austrian German and ‘Bundesdeutsch’ in the EU after Markhardt, whose work on Austrian German for the EU was up to 2007. It is also to be seen as an attempt to show how terminology work can be constructed in pluricentral languages such as German, where two legal systems are based on the same language, within the EU. That is the case also for English, French, Greek, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish and Spanish. The first version of the dictionary was produced between 2007 and 2010, with the support of the Austrian government. About 1000 of the terms later entered IATE. The project was fully revised between 2014 and 2015. 

The emphasis of the dictionary is Austrian law, and therefore the German legal terms which have no equivalent in Austrian law have not been treated in detail. 

The English is described as based on English and Commonwealth law and was reviewed by Carmen Prodinger (Canberrra/Klagenfurt), hence I think the ‘circuit court’. 

The dictionary contains full details of the terminological entries, which contain definitions, sources, equivalents and in fact much more information than we usually get in a legal dictionary. At the back there is an alphabetical list in table form of German legal concepts with their Austrian counterparts, followed by a list of all the Austrian terms which lack a German equivalent. 

I think the dictionary will be extremely useful. It does contain some food vocabulary, not a big percentage though. 

Anti-terror laws hit street art

In Sclater Street:




Because you just can’t be trusted

Die badische Aktenheftung

Strafakte.de reports on die badische Aktenheftung as something historical. I have heard about this before and I suspect it’s still partially alive. In Baden, a special method of binding documents and bundles of documents has been in use since at least 1801 and they are sticking to it. Some more in Wikipedia, and more pictures. You need a special hole punch and also a bodkin/bodger to create tiny holes.

Von Hungchaka – Eigenes Werk, CC BY 3.0,

There was a famous case in 1970 when the court in Baden tried to refuse files returned from Cologne without the right binding.

At the bottom of this page you can see three types of binding:
Württembergische Büschel (rechts), badische Oberrandheftung (oben links) und preußische Fadenheftung (unten links)

Württemberg pink, Baden orange and Prussia buff (Prussia used to cover a lot of Germany).

This made me think how many local peculiarities live on in various parts of Germany – when you learn about the law you would think a lot of it is uniform. And 1801 or earlier does somewhat predate the existence of Germany as a country.

When I was training I learnt how to sew documents using green tape. These things are so much harder to photocopy that I wonder how often it is still done. But you can find information online so it is not quite dead yet.

Sewing together a legal document, from the Legal Secretary Journal.

A YouTube video in which Maria shows how to bind legal documents – interestingly classified as Comedy.

Germany in the late summer of 1938

These are two posts from the blog of Sir Henry Brooke, a retired Court of Appeal judge – highly recommended not only for these posts on his father’s visit to Germany in 1938. These are original reports which appeared anonymously in The Times in autumn 1938.

Of course, first days in any foreign country bring home all sorts of outward differences. Why does almost everybody in a German train spend the journey standing up and looking out of the window? Why have the countless level crossings over railway lines and the ubiquitous single-decker trams been endured on the roads so long? Why are commercial lorries pulling enormous trailers so abundant, long-distance motor-coaches so rare? Why is Germany so far behind us in the development of the flower garden, so far ahead in the use of window-boxes? Why are English standards of forestry so deplorable in comparison? Why is the German town so much noisier through the night? Why is German bedding so apparently unsuited for comfortable sleep, and why are Germans so curious as to make the same criticism of English bedding?

There is more, of course. I find it worrying to think back to that time when Hitler’s view of the Jews tallied with that of the nation, and many people believed that he was their only protection against the problems of the Versailles Treaty.

Germany in the late summer of 1938 (1)
Germany in the late summer of 1938 (2)

National Poetry Day

As it’s National Poetry Day, here is a poem on the inferno of Poundland by Simon Armitage.

I gather some people encountered his work in GCSE. I didn’t, obviously, not just because GCSE is after my time and so is Simon Armitage. In GCE, we did bloody Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Wreck of the accursed Deutschland. I never did understand what people saw in him. He had to be spoken of in hushed tones.

Poundland, by Simon Armitage

Came we then to the place abovementioned,
crossed its bristled threshold through robotic glass doors,
entered its furry heat, its flesh-toned fluorescent light.
Thus with wire-wrought baskets we voyaged,
and some with trolleys, back wheels flipping like trout tails,
cruised the narrow canyons twixt cascading shelves,
the prow of our journeying cleaving stale air.
Legion were the items that came tamely to hand:
five stainless steel teaspoons, ten corn-relief plasters,
the Busy Bear pedal bin liners fragranced with country lavender,
the Disney design calendar and diary set, three cans of Vimto,
cornucopia of potato-based snacks and balm for a sweet tooth,
toys and games, goods of Orient made, and of Cathay,
all under the clouded eye of CCTV,
beyond the hazard cone where serious chutney spillage had occurred.
Then emerged souls: the duty manager with a face like Doncaster,
mumbling, “For so much, what shall we give in return?”
The blood-stained employee of the month,
sobbing on a woolsack of fun-fur rugs,
many uniformed servers, spectral, drifting between aisles.
Then came Elpenor, our old friend Elpenor,
slumped and shrunken by the Seasonal Products display.
In strangled words I managed,
“How art thou come to these shady channels, into hell’s ravine?”
And he: “To loan sharks I owe/the bone and marrow of my all.”
Then Walt Whitman, enquiring politely of the delivery boy.
And from Special Occasions came forth Tiresias,
dead in life, alive in death, cider-scented and sock-less,
Oxfam-clad, shaving cuts to both cheeks, quoting the stock exchange.
And my own mother reaching out, slipping a tin of stewing steak
to the skirt pocket of her wedding dress,
blessed with a magician’s touch, practised in need.

But never until the valley widened at the gated brink
did we open our lips to fish out those corn-coloured coins,
those minted obols, hard-won tokens graced with our monarch’s head,
kept hidden beneath the tongue’s eel, blood-tasting,
both ornament and safeguard, of armour made.
And paid forthwith, then broke surface
and breathed extraordinary daylight into starved lungs,
steered for home through precincts and parks scalded by polar winds,
laden with whatnot, lightened of golden quids.

This and that

Pending future legal translation posts, a few remarks:

1. It seems invidious to discuss the EU referendum, as the situation is changing all the time, but some links:

Jolyon Maugham’s Article 50. Our letter to the government. contains a copy of a letter of Bindmans LLP to the Government Legal Department funded through Crowdjustice and seeking clarification that Article 50 will not be activated without primary legislation.

David Allan Green at his Jack of Kent blog: The Two Article 50 legal claims – the current details.

2. Rob Lunn’s post on Using models for translating contracts on the value and limits of models and corpora in the target language.

Et seq. etc. pp.

Warning: this post is both too long and not exhaustive!

Query in a translators’ mailing list: is it OK to translate German ‘ff.’ as ‘et seq.’?

I would say: probably leave ff., which is less stuffy, but if it’s in a list of statute sections, you can use et seq.

In my usage, one might quote a statute writing ‘Article 31 et seq.’, this being a specifically legal context. But in quoting pages from a book, even a law book, the choice would be ‘pp. 60 ff.’

Here’s a Google search of the UK statute law database:
“et seq” site:www.legislation.gov.uk
It gets 237 ghits.
This at least shows that the term is used in the UK (one colleague thought it might be mainly US).

Notes on this:

ff. in German stands for folgende.
ff. in English stands for and the following.
Germans often think ‘ff.’ is a Germanism and the translator doesn’t know what they are doing.

et seq. stands for et sequens
et seqq. seems sometimes to be used in US English for et sequentes (no ghits at UK statute database)

There are some variations here depending on what style guide you use.
You may omit the full stop (period) consistently.
For example, is there a leading space before ff.? Always, in my opinion, but the Chicago Style Manual says never, and so does Judith Butcher, and this is repeated by some sources on the Web.
‘Et seq.’ is used in strictly legal texts but is getting a bit old-fashioned.

The following is a collection of random remarks:

If you translate a lot of bibliographies, you will have to decide how to write page references in English.
DE S. 41 f. EN pp. 41 f. / pp. 41-42 / 41-42
DE S. 41 ff. EN pp. 41 ff. / 41 ff.
all with or without leading space or full stop or ‘p.’ or ‘pp.’

In citing statutes, whether using ff. or et seq., you can decide what to do with the German §§
US English uses § for section. If German uses two §§, do you use singular or plural in English?
DE §§ 3-4 Br EN section 3 – 4 / sections 3 – 4 US EN § 3 – 4 /§§ 3 – 4
Both are encountered.

What style guides are there, especially for legal English?

For British usage, OSCOLA (the Oxford Standard for Citation Of Legal Authorities) is the way to go. The website also has a section on the 2006 materials on citing international law (not foreign law), which was not dealt with in the 2012 edition. You can download the whole 2012 and 2006 editions, or order the book in spiral binding – may even be available second-hand. However, OSCOLA does not answer the current questions!

Past entries on guides Style guides and law review, The Times Online Style Guide now no longer online but a Google search leads to the wayback machine (web.archive.org), and more.

General English style guides vary in their approach. For the UK, New Hart’s Rules (OUP) and the New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors are commonly used. New Hart’s Rules contains a section on Law and legal references that is welcome, but does not deal with et seq. Another useful reference is Copy Editing by Judith Butcher (who died this year). I have not got the latest edition. She writes:

f., ff., et seq.: ‘pp. 95f.’ means p. 95 and the following page; ‘pp. 95 ff.’ or ‘pp. 95 et seq.’ means p. 05 and an unspecified number of following pages; so do not make f. and ff. ‘consistent’. ff. is preferable to et seq., but a pair of page numbers is better. Remember that in all these cases one should use pp., not. p.

Et seq. is italicized here. Of course, translators can’t give a pair of page numbers if the original doesn’t, except in the case of ‘p. 95 f.’ where it must be ‘ pp. 95-96’.

I won’t have exhausted the UK resources, as a number of newspapers and journals have style guides. Nor have I had the MRA style guide since I wrote my thesis.

One US resource is The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. I think this varies from edition to edition; I have the seventeen
th. It merely prohibits the use of ‘et seq.’, preferring precise page numbers. Not much help to us translators. Then there is the ALWD Citation Manual. A Professional System of Citation, of which I have the second edition. This leads to the same result: if you look up et seq. in the index, it refers to a paragraph citing specific page numbers. Garner’s Dictionary of Usage says the same, althogh it adds, unhelpfully:

Hence the phrase et seq. (short for et sequentes = the following ones) should be used sparingly if at all. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that et seq. serves also as the abbreviation for the singular et sequens (= and the following one), though presumably few users of the phrase know that.

Black’s Law Dictionary adds nothing.

There is quite a useful discussion of the translator’s dilemma here on LEO.

Finally, there is an interesting New Zealand Law Style Guide online, worth looking at for ideas, and it has an accompanying blog.

Right-side cryptorchidism

The story that Hitler had only one testicle has been in the news again, following the publication of a book by Peter Fleischmann. I thought this had long been confirmed, but it seems that publications during the Cold War may have been suspect.

German historian Professor Peter Fleischmann claims to have discovered the results of a medical examination on Hitler after his arrest in 1923. The reports confirm that Hitler suffered from a birth defect known as “right-side cryptorchidism” – an undescended right testicle.

The records were thought to have been lost but resurfaced at an auction in Bavaria in 2010. They were quickly confiscated by the Bavarian government before being studied at Erlangen-Nuremberg University.

This would disprove reports that it was blown off in the First World War.