Year-end notes 3

Arson

Continuing the topic of the dangers of New Year’s Eve fireworks in Germany, it’s been reported that a fire started by some kind of fireworks at Krefeld Zoo burnt down the Monkey House and killed about 30 animals, including orang-utans, gorillas and a chimpanzee (two chimpanzees survived).

The later reports say that the fire was started by three women, a 60-year-old woman from Krefeld and her two daughters, who have handed themselves in. They set off sky lanterns (Himmelslaternen) which they had bought on the internet. They didn’t know these were banned. They handed themselves in and face a potential penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment.

The offence is described in the UK press as negligent arson. Perhaps one might say ‘starting a fire by negligence’, since the word ‘arson’ in English usage and law really suggests deliberate action. I have lose my copy of Bohlander’s Principles of Criminal Law, despite it being one of my go-to books, so all I have is a photocopy of the very old book on Criminal Law by E. J. Cohn – still very useful, even though the law has changed a bit since then.

Lighting sky lanterns has been forbidden (verboten) since 2009. But they can be bought. It seems a matter for the Länder to each decide whether they may be used with a permit. Their danger is that once lit, the person releasing them cannot control where they fly (depends on wind and other factors) or how long they burn, unlike in the case of a rocket. Unheilsbringer Himmelslaterne: Verboten, aber im Verkauf.

Year-end notes 2

I have a large numnber of topics I could blog about if I put more research effort into them.

  1. Lübeck führt den “Gender:Doppelpunkt” ein

I haven’t even touched on the Gender-Sternchen.

I received a query as to whether authorities consider the effect of their decisions on segmentation of texts for translation memory sofrware: people will have to stop recommending sentences being split at a colon (I don’t do that anyway – and surely we must decry the lack of colon usage?).

„Spätestens seit dem Urteil des Bundesgerichtshofes, das das Recht auf Anerkennung eines dritten Geschlechts bestätigt und zu neuen gesetzlichen Änderungen führte, besteht auch für die Verwaltung der Hansestadt LübeckHandlungsbedarf“, sagte Lindenau weiter. Als „tolerante und offene Stadt“ müsse Lübeck „diskriminierungsfrei kommunizieren“.

This is later than the ‘Binnen-I’ and I dare scarcely blog on it without greater research. I know I had to translate a job ad for ‘m/w/d’ (männlich/weiblich/divers) and may have used m/w/x. I have only seen the term Latinx this week, but then I am not used to writing Latina or Latino.

Anyway, here is a discussion about it on ProZ, which is usually good for discussions. I don’t agree with the chosen solution, but that is usually the case. Links given too.

2. Using OCR

If I use OCR, e.g. Abbyy FineReader, to convert scans to readable text, the symbols/logos/stamps on the original document can easily appear in their full glory on the resulting text. Some translators of documents even use these original graphic elements to embellish their translations. I don’t like this. I think a translation should consist of text, and if a logo has a meaning, you explain that meaning, for example (using square brackets, which I can’t find) (stamp), (logo). Anything else is not a translation, and it may create a false impression of what your document is.

This topic came up recently on a translators’ forum where a client had complained that a certified translation of her document was not in colour. That seems a bit odd. In that connection, a few colleagues advocated using first-class paper, high-quality printing and reproduction of original graphic elements. I was shocked!

See earlier post on the form of certified translations, and Richard Schneider (with photos) Von Schuppen und Ösen.

3. New Year’s Eve fireworks in Germany.

Bilanz der Silvesternacht in Berlin

Das Berliner Unfallkrankenhaus hat in der Silvesternacht 15 Menschen mit schweren Verletzungen durch Böller oder Raketen behandelt. Dazu zählten in mehreren Fällen schwerste Verbrennungen, wie eine Kliniksprecherin am Neujahrsmorgen sagte. Mehrfach waren durch Explosionen Finger abgetrennt worden, in einem Fall die ganze Hand. Unter den Schwerverletzten waren auch vier Kinder unter zehn Jahren.

Auf Twitter teilte die Klinik mit: “Erfahrungsgemäß werden aber noch etliche Verletzte mit #boellerschmerz am Neujahrstag erwartet. Besonders wenn es weiterhin keinen Regen gibt und die nicht gezündeten Sprengkörper trocken bleiben.”

Pictures of the aftermath. It is ages since I have been to an inner-city area on December 31st, alas. I know it is dangerous, but I enjoyed it. People firing rockets from balconies. Huge batteries of dead cardboard tubes lying around the next morning, though I recall the council clean-up was very prompt. There are always serious injuries.

It isn’t like that in the UK. One hears fireworks being let off more frequently – for instance, not only on November 5th but for Diwali, shortly before. And increasingly at New Year.

It seems that Germans make up for their orderliness the rest of the year in these 24 hours. Is it an offence to let off fireworks a day or two earlier or later? The Guardian considers the problem:

We don’t want to spoil the fun – New Year firework displays divide Germans

By law, Germans are only allowed to set off fireworks between 6pm on New Year’s Eve and 7am on 1 January. Up to €200m (£180m) is spent on fireworks mainly for personal use, according to Germany’s environment agency.

“It is the only time of the year – for just a few hours – when I feel really free and able to make as much noise as I like, with no one telling me what to do,” says Leonard Schneider, a 21-year-old maintenance technician from Cologne.

I presume Bleigießen is still permitted, but of course you can use wax instead.

Year-end notes

This blog is still alive, despite appearances.

At the moment I am aspiring to downsize, and I am looking through masses of old papers that I either throw away, keep or scan and save (the tidier way to forget about them). Unfortunately I really need to look at everything to make sure I don’t overlook something important.

So here is the beginning of a miscellany:

  1. This typewritten notice was in a folder marked ‘Personal’.

Sehr geehrter Kraftfahrer,

Sie parken o h n e B e r e c h t i g u n g auf einem PRIVATPARKPLATZ.

Wir teilen Ihnen mit, daß wir beim nächsten Verstoß den Halter des Fahrzeuges wegen HAUSFRIEDENSBRUCH bei der Staatsanwaltschaft anzeigen werden und weiterhin UNTERLASSUNGSKLAGE beim Amtsgericht Nürnberg wegen vorsätzlicher EIGENTUMSSTÖRUNG erheben werden.

Hochachtungsvoll

i.A. (signature)
für den Eigentümer

Nürnberg, den 9.9.88

Goodness, I thought to myself, this German behaviour would shock some of the residents of Cranham and Upminster who are always discussing parking tickets on Facebook.

But then I remembered: I went with students to watch a trial at the Landgericht in Nuremberg (that’s the building where the war crimes trials took place) and one of them could only find a parking place a bit outside the others. He saw no signs indicating parking was forbidden, but when he went back to his car he found this notice on it. I think it was only the next day that he went to complain at the court and explain how careful he’d been. It turned out that there was a running gag between public prosecutors and lawyers and the former had thought my student was a lawyer. As soon as they realized their mistake, the ticket was withdrawn.

2. An old ad for accounting software called Account-Ability. Picture of Reagan, as a puppet. US heading: ‘With Account-Ability anyone can do your accounts.’ German heading: ‘Wir wissen nicht, was dieser freundliche Politiker empfiehlt…’

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.

MORE DETAILS ADDED THE NEXT DAY

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:

WARNING
STREET ART TOURS ARE ILLEGAL
YOU COULD BE ARRESTED FINED & OR IMPRISONED
UNDER ANTI-TERROR LAWS*

*OR OUR GENERAL MODUS OPERANDI THAT
IF WE DON’T UNDERSTAND IT WE’LL SHUT IT DOWN ANYWAY
JUST IN CASE

(UNLESS YOU’RE A MEDIA MOGUL OR HAVE SOMETHING ON US OR BOTH)

METROPOLITAN POLICE
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.