Some photos from the South Bank.
A colleague recently had the word unverzüglich in a legal text and wondered whether it mattered which of the many alternatives to choose.
Romain: prompt, forthwith, without delay
Dietl-Lorenz: (ohne schuldhaftes Zögern) without culpable (or undue) delay
I had wrongly remembered this as without unreasonable delay. Other renderings have been immediately and with all due speed
- I note that unverzüglich ist one of the words given a statutory definition (Legaldefinition) in the Civil Code. Here it is:
Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB)
§ 121 Anfechtungsfrist
(1) Die Anfechtung muss in den Fällen der §§ 119, 120 ohne schuldhaftes Zögern (unverzüglich) erfolgen, nachdem der Anfechtungsberechtigte von dem Anfechtungsgrund Kenntnis erlangt hat. Die einem Abwesenden gegenüber erfolgte Anfechtung gilt als rechtzeitig erfolgt, wenn die Anfechtungserklärung unverzüglich abgesendet worden ist.(2) Die Anfechtung ist ausgeschlossen, wenn seit der Abgabe der Willenserklärung zehn Jahre verstrichen sind.
Note the way a statutory definition is indicated. Further research reveals that this definition is regarded as applying even outside the Civil Code.
2. Does it then matter how precisely it is translated into English? Immediately seems to suggest more speed, but does that matter? Perhaps not, as long as your translation is for information only and makes it clear that German law prevails. However, without undue delay or without culpable delay does the job well.
3. Dietl wins over Romain here (as so rarely). Von Beseler has:
adj immediate, prompt, instant(aneous);
adv immediately, promptly, instantly; forthwith; at once; on the spot; without delay; at short notice, at a moment’s notice
The BGB meaning is missing, and when it comes to choosing between the other alternatives, legal translators are left to themselves. Nor is there any indication in Dietl of the source of the definition.
LATER NOTE: As Inge Noeninger points out on Twitter (see comment too) unverzüglich contains the word Verzug, delay or default, which is why translating it as immediately is avoided.
It seems my blog has today been running (running down?) for 16 years so here is a birthday post.
Mittagsstunde by Dörte Hansen (2018), a novel full of Plattdeutsch with the theme of Flurbereinigung reminded me of this strange process. (Hansen’s first novel, Altes Land, has been translated as This House is Mine – one wonders how the dialect was handled). In East Germany small plots of land were joined to form collectives, but in West Germany (and Austria I gather – and also in France and the Netherlands) there was a similar consolidation of small plots but not for socialist reasons.
The process was enabled by a 1953 statute, the Flurbereinigungsgesetz. I don’t think it is done much or at all now.
Very small plots of land resulted from Realteilung, the physical partition of land when inherited by several people – I don’t think the system of inheritance always meant equal partitition, though. Land consolidation was agreed by a group of people and was accompanied by changes to roads and waterways.
The effects of this process in practice, both during and after the reorganization of land, are something we didn’t have in the UK.
One aspect that has become known here is the effect of consolidation on vineyards. Wikipedia:
A very negative example of Flurbereinigung occurred in the first half of the 70’s at Kaiserstuhl (Baden-Württemberg), when great terraces where created with an inclination in direction to the hillside. The idea was to store water in the area, but heavy rains in the Pentecost week in 1983 led to flooding. Moreover, due to the inclination of the terraces in springtime (blooming time of the wine) cold air was settles, leading to frequent frost damage to the crops. 
And here a 2014 article from the Daily Beast (whatever that is): Germany’s Wine Revolution is Just Getting Started:
Ulli is paving the way for a new wave of wine growers who are ignoring Flurbereinigung and looking to the Prussian tax maps to scout, purchase, and salvage historically great vineyard sites, work them by hand (as opposed to restructuring them to work with machines), and produce dry-tasting wines reminiscent of those created in the 19th century.
I’m afraid that’s all for today, folks.
When I went to the Don McCullin exhition at Tate Britain last Wednesday (includes some photo of the wall going up in East Berlin in 1961 btw), just before midday, I passed the protesters, of whom there seem increasingly more. It was very warm for February.
The image settings seem to have changed – must read up on WordPress in an idle moment.
I’m a bit late to recommend Rebecca Jowers because I don’t so often look at Spanish/English legal resources. But I have noticed that she is authoritative in advising on British as well as US usage.
An introduction: Why this blog? is the first post
I created this blog to share some of the translation pitfalls that I’ve encountered along the way, many of which were brought to my attention by fellow translators, my students of legal English, and law professors, attorneys, judges and other translation clients. It is intended to be a meeting place for translators, interpreters, lawyers and law professors for whom legal terminology is an essential element of their professional activities in both languages. Thus I welcome comments and suggestions from the many experienced colleagues in the profession who, as I am, are enthusiastically devoted to the study of Spanish-English legal terminology. Some of the areas I will be exploring include:
ES-EN legal terminology
Legal English for Spanish-speakers
Common words with uncommon legal meanings
Expressing civil law concepts in common law terms
The blog is called Léxico Jurídico Español-Inglés.
After some attempts to accost people and ask to photograph them, it seemed more promising to seek protesters who wanted photographs.
The Zimbabwe Vigil takes place every Saturday outside Zimbabwe House – which I remember as Rhodesia House, long boarded up, in the 1960s. The Vigil has been happening since 2002! And there is a book.
I have not been following this. I remember we were very against the Ian Smith régime in the UK and not coming to an agreement with Ian Smith seems to have had devastating consequences.
At Trafalgar Square there was a protest by Sudanese against Omar Al-Bashir.
Elsewhere other things were happening.
I recently translated this (männlich/weiblich/divers) in a job ad as m/f/x. Other suggestions made by colleagues were more experimental. However, I am now seeing “m/f/d” (mainly on German sites?). And in the USA there is m/f/d/v meaning masculine/feminine/disabled/veteran.
There is an academic job site in the UK and I see they have Professor (m/f/d) International Management and Finance at the Technische Hochschule Deggendorf and Postdoc (m/f/x) at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig.
Some TranslationTalk tweets this week reminded me of the terms functional equivalence and formal equivalence. I haven’t thought about these terms for years so I thought I would refresh my memory. (This is not a disagreement with the TranslationTalk tweets – they just reminded me of it).
When I started teaching legal translation, in the late 1980s, in those glorious days when no one much wanted legal translation at all, let alone for it to be taught, except, as it happened, the Bavarian courts, I was pleased to be recommended Martin Weston’s book An English Reader’s Guide to the French Legal System. I should add that legal translation had not yet been discovered as such a cornucopia for academic investigation – this was before Susan Šarčević’s New Approach to Legal Translation (which was hampered by having to take many of its translation examples from Canadian French, which is usually translated into Canadian Frenglish). We didn’t have internet resources in the 80s, whereas nowadays, at least for the German and English language pair, there are plenty of bilingual materials online.
Martin Weston had translated in the Secretariat of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and was then Senior Translator in the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights. His book was originally a dissertation for a linguistics MA. He has a full bibliography of works on linguistics and translation theory; law; and dictionaries and lexicography.
I found Weston’s analysis of how to translate legal terminology very useful for teaching, though when I myself had a problematic term to translate, I didn’t run through his categories in my head but simply decided how close the German and English terms should be and how they would work in my context before I decided how to translate them.
Weston says that there are five possible approaches to translating ‘culture-bound’ SL expressions (incidentally it looks as if Newmark did something like this at an earlier date):
- nearest equivalent TL concept (départment: county)
- translate word for word (Académie Française: French Academy)
- transcribe the foreign expression, adding a TL explanation if necessary (croissant: croissant – needs no explanation)
- create a neologism: a) a literal translation / calque (université du troisième age: university of the third age) b) naturalization (informatique: informatics) c) use existing naturalization (départment: department);
- use an existing naturalization (which may be felt to be a native TL expression) (département: department,
Number 1 is functional equivalence, number 2 is formal equivalence.
Thus one could translate le Conseil des ministres as the Cabinet – to translate it as the Council of Ministers would have no equivalent in British culture and would conflict with the English title of the decision-making body of the European Community.
It’s for every translator to decide which type of translation works in English – in any case, many translations of terms have become standard now. I was surprised at the suggestion that a civil-law lawyer might be translated as barrister or solicitor, depending on their current role, because for me the terms are too specific to the English divided profession. Weston does discuss this at length. He seems inclined to accept barrister as a generic term. Discussing how to translate avocat (p. 103), Weston finds that the differences “are not such as to preclude the trnaslation ‘barrister’, however. At the same time, though, it should be noted that, just as many international organizations have official titles in more than one language, so European Community barristers, who are now allowed to practise in any member State, must use only their original official title (e.g. avocat, Rechtsanwalt, barrister), not a translation.”
When I wanted to use this list in teaching, I tried to replace the French examples by German ones, but it didn’t work very well. If you translate Kabinett as Cabinet, I suppose you have both formal and functional equivalence. But still it seemed a useful way of thinking about terminology – not that legal translation consists solely of terminology.
If I were to encounter the word Rechtsanwalt to translate for the first time today, I would have a number of dictionaries to consult and examples to consider. I probably wouldn’t have the time to research in great detail the precise differences not only between Rechtsanwalt and Notar, but between solicitor, barrister, attorney, lawyer, attorney-at-law. As Weston writes, “In a court context, avocat (de la défense) will often be translated as ‘counsel for the defence)'”. But I would be thinking: is this close enough functionally? would it confuse the English reader? how much support does the rest of the text provide to the intended meaning? how important is a precise rendering of this term in this particular text? who is going to read it? (my texts are never intended specifically for England and Wales, but for a number of readers, some of whom aren’t even in common law systems).
I agree with Malcolm Harvey on this (A Beginner’s Course in Legal Translation: the Case of Culture-bound Terms)
Malcolm Harvey Université Lumière Lyon 2, France
Authors are divided over the merits of this technique: Weston describes it as the ‘ideal method of translation’ (1991:23), whereas Sarcevic claims it is ‘misleading and should be avoided in the translation of laws’ (1985:131). Experience shows that learners tend to overuse this device, no doubt because it is aesthetically satisfying and allows them to apply newly-acquired knowledge about the TL system. This can cause them to ignore potential dangers: for instance, the term tribunal d’instance can produce anomalies such as ‘Magistrates’ Court’ or ‘County Court’, which sound distinctly odd in the French context. This temptation is shared by dictionaries and vocabulary books, which sometimes offer incongruous or erroneous equivalencies such as Garde des Sceaux = ‘Lord Chancellor’; avocat général = ‘Queen’s Counsel’ (Gusdorf 1993:85).
Apprentice translators should double-check both denotation and connotation before resorting to a functional equivalent.
This technique is appropriate for the translation of texts intended for the lay reader (novels, general newspaper articles, political speeches etc.) in contexts where scrupulous accuracy is less important than fluency and clarity. However, in a document intended for lawyers, the technique can be misleading.
Readers probably know about Rotation Curation on Twitter (#rocur) – accounts where the person tweeting (curator) changes every week. If not, there is more in Wikipedia at Rotation Curation.
The account is usually linked to a place, as in I am Germany, but there is now a TranslationTalk account, and this week it has been curated by Paula Arturo, an Argentinian legal translator and lawyer – website translatinglawyers.com.
There are a couple of points raised by Paula this week that I would like to take up, and that will mean blog posts – I have written a couple of replies on Twitter, but I don’t feel they lead to a multi-person discussion and then they disappear into the ether.
I find it hard to follow long topics on Twitter because I don’t log in often enough to catch up with everyone I am following. Does anyone? So even if a tweet is presented as a thread, it still alternates with non-threads where the curator has a sense of continuity but many readers may not. There is an archive of TranslationTalk tweets here. This is helpful but also illustrates how broken-up the tweets are.
I’ve been using computer-aided technology for translation since 1998. I use Transit, currently TransitNXT, from STAR. It’s a very good program and has many excellent features I am too lazy to learn about. It is also much hated by many translators. Anyway, it has helped my legal translation in many ways, but it has never saved time. Over the years I have often heard that such tools are useless for legal translation, but that was just something said by people who had no idea what they were talking about. My CAT tool lets me see source and target text at the same time and links to all the terminology I have stored (the STAR terminology database, Termstar, is the best I know).
Percy Balemans has a post on her blog in which she has gone to the effort of describing all the reasons she likes CAT tools (post dated February 2013 but still relevant today), so I am linking it here and can save myself the effort: The usefulness of CAT tools.https://pbtranslations.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/the-usefulness-of-cat-tools/