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”
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 (, 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.

Lord Chancellor’s advice on language

From The Independent: Michael Gove instructing his civil servants on grammar

Mr Gove, who studied English at Oxford University’s Lady Margaret Hall, is notorious for his obsession with correct language. While secretary of state for education, he changed the curriculum so that schoolchildren studied more classical literature. “It’s slightly patronising,” said a Whitehall source. “It does feel like the sort of thing someone would do when they have too much time on their hands.”

It appears there are a lot of style guides for civil servants, most probably not available online, and for a minister to request this kind of thing is not unusual. Apparently William Hague requested all correspondence to be written in the Ariel font, except correspondence to himself, which was to be in Georgia. However (to start a sentence in a way he bans), The Independent is keeping an eye on Michael Gove. He was unpopular with teachers but does have more brain cells than the last Lord Chancellor. But how will he use them?

On the subject of civil servants’ language, here is a PDF on Mandarin English

You will recall that
No you won’t.
You will wish to be aware
No you won’t, it’s bad news I’m afraid.
You may wish to consider [doing this]
Do this or else!
You Should Be Aware
Even worse news – not my fault, honest.

Exclamation mark in Supreme Court judgment

Thank goodness the Supreme Court has ruled that Prince Charles’s ‘black spider memo’ letters to parliament can be disclosed:
full judgment and press summary as PDFs on the Supreme Court site.

Judgment read out on youtube:
R (on the application of Evans) and another v Attorney General

This relates to letters predating the coalition legislation under which the royal family are exempt from freedom of information law: see 37 here (PDF).

But attention quickly concentrated on the use of an exclamation mark in the judgment (fortunately in a dissenting opinion):

LORD WILSON: (dissenting)
168. I would have allowed the appeal. How tempting it must have been for the Court of Appeal (indeed how tempting it has proved even for the majority in this court) to seek to maintain the supremacy of the astonishingly detailed, and inevitably unappealed, decision of the Upper Tribunal in favour of disclosure of the Prince’s correspondence!

Jack of Kent on Twitter:

Jack of Kent @JackofKent

So Lord Wilson has brought a long distinguished judicial career to an end by using an exclamation mark in a judgment

The German media on the US legal system

Andrew Hammel has a suspicion that the German media are keen to find fault with what they believe to be the US justice system, while overlooking comparable shortcomings of the German justice system. Goodness gracious – is he allowed to publish that kind of thing?

Bleg: German News Coverage of Failures of German Justice

Andrew is looking for evidence in the German-language press:

So what I am looking for is articles in the German-language press by Germans which deal with potential justice problems in courts in German-speaking countries including:

(1) wrongful convictions;

(2) racial, ethnic, or religious disparities in conviction rates or sentencing;

(3) allegations of racial or ethnic or religious bias among German prosecutors and professional or lay judges;

(4) interviews with prisoners currently serving prison sentences in Germany who claim that they are completely innocent of the crimes of which they were convicted; and/or

(5) detailed examinations of systemic problems in German criminal justice or prisons, things such as underfunding, outdated regulations, disproportionate penalties, or the use of unreliable evidence.

And why behold you the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye?

English language curiosities

On reading this headline in The Local:

Merkel to meet Putin in January over Ukraine

I wonder whether anyone will shoot them down. However, the earlier headline about the blazing ferry has been improved (Flaming ferry counted 18 German passengers).

In the following, what role was played by Microsoft Word capitalizing words at the beginning of a line?


but maybe the locals can’t read.

On a different subject, there is probably a law against this kind of thing in Germany:



Heston also created his own kind of mince pies, which were OK except they weren’t really mince pies, more like Linzer Torte. They had the tangerine-flavoured sugar too.

Dangerous zeppelins

In memory of the First World War: children being warned of zeppelins.


If the zeppelins come, keep indoors. Put lights out and keep quiet. British means Pluck.

Apparently it did take a while to develop effective anti-airship measures.