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This page contains the following 2016 newsletters starting with the latest:

January, March, September


Separated by



The Newsletter of the Chartered Institute of Linguists German Society e.V.


Sept 2016


Letter from the Chair



Dear Members,

Twenty five years after the first study weekend in Weimar we returned there to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the German Society. We were delighted to welcome CIOL Council member Judith Ridgway, and we even had some of the original Weimar participants. I would like to thank Jadwiga and Sally for organising such an excellent event. Everybody enjoyed themselves and there were no problems, apart from the usual minor details such as Deutsche Bahn’s rail replacement service. My trains were all on time so I can’t complain. A full report is on page 4.

Our next event is the Translators’ Workshop on 5th November in Berlin, and there are still some free places. No fireworks but some very interesting presentations. The details are on page 8.

In 2017 our first event will be the AGM on 4th March in Mainz, and I hope that it will be well attended. Since many members live along the Rhine, it will be a nice day out, and you don’t even have to celebrate the carnival as we’ve chosen the first weekend of Lent!

Planning is in full swing for the 2017 study weekend in Lübeck. The dates have not been finalised but it will probably be in the first half of September. The topic is relations between the Hanseatic League and the UK. More details will be announced in a future newsletter and will also be on the website.

Finally, my daughters have introduced me to the delights of Duolingo, which is a free language learning app for smart phones and tablets but can also be played on the computer. For refreshing half-forgotten languages or trying something new I can only recommend it. A warning – it can get quite addictive!

All the best from me and the committee


Page 2

Reaching Your Audience – Anglophoner Tag 2016


This year’s Anglophoner Tag (1-3 July) was hosted by ATICOM and took place in Düsseldorf. The overarching theme was ‘Reaching Your Audience’, and to get us into the mood the weekend kicked off with a guided tour of the WDR broadcasting studios. We were given a fascinating glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes (in some cases literally) of the radio and television programmes that are broadcast from these studios. As they are located in Düsseldorf’s ‘media harbour’, we were subsequently treated to an entertaining architectural tour of this district of Düsseldorf that tastefully combines the old with the new. Then it was off to a Kölsch (Cologne beer!) pub and restaurant for some serious networking.

Early next morning we were nevertheless all present and correct at the ‘FFFZ’ conference centre. Reiner Heard, ATICOM’s chairman, welcomed us and introduced the first speaker, Brigitte Geddes from ITI, whose talk was entitled ‘Pitch Perfect’ and was based on her thoughts and observations over a very long and varied career. She wondered why wouldn’t you make sure that you find the right word – le mot juste – if this is what people are paying you for. She then went on to describe the pitfalls that can get in the way of this and the lateral thinking that is required to enable you to be pitch perfect. She emphasised that translators should not undersell themselves. After all, their task is to reinvent a text in another language. Over the years Brigitte has been inspired by various people, including Chris Durban, translator and author of the ‘Prosperous Translator’. Brigitte concluded that trying to be pitch perfect will always be a challenge, and the key is to remain flexible and adaptable.

Next up was Isabel Schwagereit, who is the expert on standards at ATICOM. Her presentation was in German and started with a question: ‘Wer profitert von Übersetzungs- und Dolmetschnormen?’ After a brief survey of the latest standards, e.g. ISO 17100 (requirements for translation services), Isabel discussed the potential benefits, both internal and external, for freelance translators that can be derived from adhering to official standards. These included better and more transparent processes as well as marketing advantages. For translation customers trying to select service providers, the standards are viewed as additional criteria but by no means the only ones. Isabel concluded that while standards are not a panacea, they do not do any harm. She finished with an appropriate quote from Aristotle to illustrate her point: “I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

In the last presentation of the morning, Nick Tanner, ITI/CIoL, whetted our appetites with a talk and some practical exercises on ‘Jamie in German’, referring of course to the cheeky chappy and naked chef Jamie Oliver. Nick presented his analysis of Jamie’s style in his cookbooks, including a comparison with Delia Smith and Johann Lafer, her opposite number in Germany, and also with Chakall, who looks as cheeky as Jamie. After a review of the macro-structures, syntactic patterns, stylistic forms and discourse in the various cookery books, Nick then talked about the German translations of Jamie’s cookery books, which are very popular in Germany. Nick highlighted the various challenges here for translators, including imprecise amounts of ingredients, e.g. “a good sprinkling of cheese” and copious use of colloquial words and phrases, e.g. “old dude”. Moreover, the text is also punctuated throughout with Jamie’s personality and opinions. We were all then given an opportunity to translate Jamie’s ‘mould-breaking’ texts, as Nick referred to them, and we shared the results of our efforts.


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After yet more networking over a delicious lunch, Barbara Müller-Grant, BDÜ, led a thought provoking interactive session entitled: “Is it appropriate to tailor the message to your audience?” To get the discussion going, Barbara asked whether this would be appropriate in a typical court setting where the defendant is from Africa and the official language is English. Is it appropriate to ‘dumb down’, or tailor a very complex message when interpreting? The conclusion was that it would not be appropriate, as this would involve taking out information and becoming personally involved. Barbara then asked if interpreters should use body language if the defendants used it. The preferred option in this case is not to use it. The next hypothetical situation focused on whether or not a vulgarity/profanity should be translated in a meeting where the manager of a US subsidiary of a German company wishes to be present, but not necessarily take part, in order to ascertain if the company’s message is getting across. The conclusion was yes – everything has to be translated. However, Barbara did point out that we need to be braver and bolder when translating advertising copy, texts in the field of the theatre and the performing arts, literary texts and even technical manuals, although that should be agreed in advance.

Reiner Heard, our host for the day, then took to the floor to provide an update on machine translation (MT) and, in particular, what users think about it. While MT has a long and largely unsuccessful history (stretching back around 60 years), at present the conditions are changing rapidly and large amounts of money are being invested in this area. Recent developments have to do with something called singularity, which is based on the hypothesis that, at some point in the future, artificial intelligence will be so advanced that it will be able to take over tasks from humans – including translation. So-called neural MT based on ‘deep learning’ is on the way. Nevertheless, it will be extremely expensive. So what does the future hold for the translation industry? It is very likely that low-end texts will be handled capably by MT but the technology would not be financially viable for semantically challenging texts, e.g. literary or marketing and for languages of limited diffusion. If you would like to stay on top of developments in this area then take a look at the weekly newsletter on www.slator.com.

The final (fairly light-hearted) talk of the day was by Rodney Mantle and was on the topic of ‘World Englishes’, those localised or indigenised varieties of English with which we are very familiar in Germany. Rodney introduced us to the most influential model of the spread of English, created by Braj Kachru, where the diffusion of English is captured in terms of three concentric circles of the language. Rodney’s talk focused on the so-called ‘Expanding Circle’ that encompasses countries where English plays no historical or governmental role, but where it is nevertheless widely used as a medium of international communication, for example, in China. Rodney showed us many examples of Chinglish – a form of English that mixes elements of English with elements of Chinese – that he had collected during his many years of teaching in China. Naturally, no discussion of world Englishes would be complete without Denglish, and Rodney had plenty examples of that, too.

We rounded off yet another fascinating and stimulating Anglophoner Tag in a cosy restaurant in Kaiserswerth, and on the Sunday morning we had a tour of the State Parliament in Düsseldorf. The ITI German Network will be hosting the 2017 Anglophoner Tag but no details were available at the time of going to press.


Page 4


German Society Study weekend 2016


When the committee of the German Society planned the study weekend in Weimar, no-one could have dreamt that on a 10th of September the weather would be so hot and summery – but the 34 people (+ 3 speakers) attending agreed that this made a wonderful weekend just perfect.

Apart from plenty of opportunities to network over Thuringian food and drinks, the weekend offered the tried-and-tested mixture of stimulating talks, “touristy” activities and culture.

At registration, GS anniversary pens were handed out to those attending. The topic for the day was earlier British visitors to Weimar. The German Society chairperson Stephanie Tarling welcomed everyone, mentioning that almost exactly 25 years previously the very first study weekend had also been held in Weimar. The Cambridge Society, represented by 4 people, presented the GS with a box of wonderful, assorted biscuits, which found eager takers during the break - thank you!

The day’s first speaker, Dr Ulrike Müller-Harang, a senior researcher from the Klassik Stiftung Weimar, painted an overall picture of late 18th and 19th century Weimar, which was said to be “swarming with Englishmen”. One disgruntled German poet thought the town was suffering “from the English disease”. Some were students, or tourists; some, like Thomas Wilson, came as teachers, but for many visitors the “Goethe connection” was the reason to go to Weimar. Goethe’s work was hugely admired by prominent British publishers and writers, including Sir Walter Scott. Goethe’s first translator, Thomas Carlyle, never actually met the poet in person although they - and indeed a somewhat besotted Mrs Carlyle as well - corresponded frequently. Lord Leveson Gower also tried his hand at translation, but his “Faust” found no favour with Goethe, who barely recognized his original. Goethe was increasingly unwilling to attend receptions at his house personally, although some did manage to meet the great man. One was Henry Crabb Robinson, a solicitor, who read and discussed Byron and Milton with him. Another was the famous novelist William Makepeace Thackeray. One of the more colourful characters about town was James Marshall, who progressed, if not exactly from dishwasher to millionaire, at least from poor boy to self-tutored Privy Counsellor at the court of Weimar.


Page 5


He was the go-to person for British visitors, including Lewes and George Eliot. As Germans like to think of the English as rather eccentric, Dr Müller-Harang gave some details of a prime example of this species - Mr John Horrocks. Despite his odd behaviour, he has a memorial stone in the wall of Weimar cemetery. He wrote the standard work “The art of fly fishing for trout and grayling in Germany and Austria” and was a vocal early environmentalist passionately concerned about the state of the River Ilm in Weimar and fisheries in general.

Robert Muscutt then picked up the thread and gave a lively presentation of the three months that George Eliot spent in Weimar. By the time she travelled to Weimar Mary Ann Evans was calling herself Marian Evans, but had not yet written the novels under the pseudonym George Eliot that were to make her famous. In an age of little freedom for women, she took the enormous risk of travelling with her lover, a married man named George Henry Lewes; in 1854 he was working on his biography of the recently deceased Goethe and was eager to interview people who had known him.

In London the couple had moved in radical intellectual circles and initially George Eliot noted in her journal, “How could Goethe live here, in this dull, lifeless village?” Soon, however, the Park by the Ilm exerted its charm on the “honeymooners”. Moreover, they rapidly developed a friendship with Franz Liszt - then Weimar’s most famous resident, a man with rock-star status and a dedicated, rapturous fan base. Liszt was openly living with a woman who was not his wife - and had done so before - but Weimar appears to have been less censorious than London. As George Eliot wrote of her own situation, “No-one here seems to find it scandalous that we should be together.” The fascinating aspect was that not only, as we were later to discover on the afternoon walk with Bob Muscutt, were George Eliot’s poetic descriptions of the Park still valid, but that we were meeting in the very room at the Altenburg villa where the “man of the house”, Liszt, played the piano for his guests from England. Marian Evans wrote a very appreciative account of his mastery of the instrument and of visits to the house. She also paid tribute to the residents of Weimar, writing approvingly that, “Unlike our English people they take pleasure into their calculations and seem regularly to set aside part of their time to recreation.” In retrospect she wrote, “If you care nothing at all about Goethe, Schiller and Herder, why, so much the worse for you - you will miss many interesting thoughts and associations; but still, Weimar has a charm independent of these great names.” And that neatly sums up what the study week-end participants felt.

Bob Muscutt’s sister Linda Mayne, joint treasurer of the George Eliot Fellowship, then gave her own, personal view of George Eliot, tracing the connections between members of her own family and events that happened in Eliot’s lifetime and showing how the places in and around Nuneaton with which the young Mary Ann Evans was familiar found their way, sometimes only thinly disguised, into George Eliot’s novels. It may have had little to do with Weimar as such, but Linda’s enthusiasm and love of her topic certainly inspired several of us to resolve to go back to those books forced upon so many of us at school and read them in a fresh light.

This stimulating morning ended with a walk back into the town centre and a celebration 30th anniversary lunch at the Gasthaus zum Weißen Schwan - which has seen countless British visitors and German luminaries over its long history. Judith Ridgway, a member of the CIOL Council, spoke briefly before the meal and conveyed greetings from the CIOL, with congratulations on the 30th anniversary of the German Society. London also sent commemoration desk calendars and CIOL pens and post-it note booklets for everyone, which were very well received. To celebrate a birthday properly one needs a cake - and the GS had ordered one magnificently decorated with the official crest, a sweet birthday surprise to complement the 30th anniversary pens distributed earlier in the day.


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Those in the group who could manage a bit more culture attended the performance in the tiny, intimate theatre in the Cranach House on the market square. There a man and a woman talked about Goethe’s relationship with Christiane Vulpius - one more scandal in Weimar society. A mixture of original letters, comments from contemporaries and historical details brought the two halves of this unequal partnership vividly alive - but it must be admitted that the great man was not really suited to normal married life.

A Sunday sightseeing tour and lunch rounded off the official portion of this highly successful study weekend.

PS. Plans are already being made for next year’s event in Lübeck.


Some people who attended the Weimar weekend were surprised to see the statue of Shakespeare in the park, so for those of you who missed Jadwiga's article the first time round, here's the answer.


Shakespeare - Found in Translation


If, like me, you’ve ever wondered why there is a reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in Neuss, a small town on the Rhine, or why Shakespeare’s death mask is Page 7

to be found in Darmstadt, the answer is simple – Shakespeare was German. At least, that is what Germans have felt for centuries. According to Professor Martin Swales, a former

Professor of German at University College London (UCL), who gave a fascinating talk on this subject at the Shakespeare Festival in Neuss some years ago.

It was August Wilhelm Schlegel, one of the most famous and prolific early translators of Shakespeare’s work, who described Shakespeare as being “ganz unser” (entirely ours). Indeed, many Germans believe that Shakespeare stands alongside Goethe and Schiller as the third German classic author. It is perhaps for this reason that in any given year there are more performances of Shakespeare in Germany than in England. Moreover, the first Shakespeare society in the world was founded in, you guessed it, Germany, in 1864.

Most significantly, however, German was the first language Shakespeare was ever translated into. This was way back in 1766, just 150 years after Shakespeare’s death, with Christoph Martin Wieland's prose translation of 22 of the plays. Between 1818 and 1839 alone, eight separate German translations of the entire works of Shakespeare were published. Some have argued that this even helped to "improve" the German language, as new words had to be invented to complete the task.

Nevertheless, it was the Schlegel-Tieck edition of 1833 that is considered to have set the gold standard for Shakespeare translation and laid the foundations for successive generations of German writers to attempt their very own versions. As Professor Swales pointed out, this stream of translations is probably one of the reasons for Shakespeare’s continued popularity in Germany - German audiences can actually understand the plays. By contrast, Shakespeare's original English is no longer easily understood.

Germans became enthusiastic about Shakespeare, and thus started to translate his works, as they were looking for an alternative to French classical drama which, many felt, had a paralysing influence on German theatre. Shakespeare's plays did not adhere to the classical unities of action, place and time, as was common practice in French theatre.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once described the unities of French theatre as being "as oppressive as prison." Thus, Shakespeare represented a breath of fresh air and offered a whole new world of creative possibilities. Indeed, Goethe was one of Shakespeare's greatest advocates. In 1771, he gave an impassioned speech on the merits of his "friend" across the North Sea. As Professor Rüdiger Görner points out in an afterword to a new translation of Goethe’s speeches and writing on Shakespeare, Goethe even Germanized the Bard’s name when he called him Schäkespeare.

However, the story doesn't end there. Not only do Germans think of Shakespeare as entirely theirs, Germany is considered to be personified by Hamlet. In 1844, the writer Ferdinand Freiligrath wrote a poem entitled "Germany is Hamlet," the thinker, the lingerer never acting. To top it all, Hamlet was a so-called "Wahldeutscher" (German resident by choice) as he was a student at Wittenberg University. So there! In an attempt to fight back, Professor Swales, asked his colleagues at UCL’s English Department to name a Shakespearean character who they thought embodied Britain, the Bard’s native country. The English Professors suggested Falstaff – I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on that one.

Jadwiga Bobrowska


Page 8


2016 GS Translators' Workshop Saturday, 5th November 2016, Berlin


Further to the information given in our March newsletter, the final line-up of speakers is as follows:

Christin Dallmann Einführung in die Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit

Ilse Freiburg Internationale Befragungen – die Kunst, weltweit die

richtigen Fragen richtig zu stellen

Alexandra Jones Translating poetry (see also Editor’s Rag Bag)

Isabelle Thormann Her most spectacular court cases

Those who haven't yet registered but are still interested should contact Jadwiga now at J.Bobrowska@gmx.net by no later than 30th September 2016. Please note that the hotel contingent is being held until 7th October.


The editor's rag bag


Thanks to those who took the time to respond to our final newsletter opt-in appeal. Apart from saving time and money in future, we now know who does and who doesn't read the newsletter!


Congratulations to Sandy Jones on the publication in June of her first collection of Scottish Gaelic poetry. It is entitled ‘Crotal Ruadh – Red Lichen’, and is a bilingual collection: three dozen poems, some of which Sandy has set to music as songs, with her own translations into English. For more details, please see http://www.acairbooks.com/categories/all-products/crotal-ruadh.aspx

In the foreword to the book, renowned Gaelic poet Aonghas MacNeacail wrote: ‘It was clear that the idiom and meaning of poetry coursed through every piece of her writing that I read. Sandy has a well-judged touch for adding unusual, and sometimes witty or skittish twists to the concepts in the poetry.’



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A light-hearted tale


The small town of Thetford in Norfolk is home to the Dad's Army Museum ('Dad's Army' was a highly popular UK TV comedy series, Ed.) and has a statue of Captain Mainwaring near the river.

The town is also home to an impressive equestrian statue of the last Maharajah of the Punjab, Duleep Singh.

He was deposed by the British in the 19th century and exiled to the UK. For a time, he lived near Thetford, and one of his sons bought an historic building and donated it to the town as a museum. Moreover, daughter Sophia became a suffragette.

On account of the Maharajah's ties with the area, many Sikhs visit Thetford. On one occasion, a friendly lady from the tourist office persuaded some of them to gather round the statue of Captain Mainwaring for a photo. Impressed, the Sikhs concluded that 'this must have been a great warrior'! How delighted 'Captain Mainwaring' would have been (actor Arthur Lowe too, by all accounts!).


Thanks to Bob Muscutt for forwarding this gem, spotted on a t-shirt:

'Egal wie dicht du bist – Goethe war Dichter'


Page 10


GS Diary



19th – 23rd October

Frankfurt am Main book fair. Special guests The Netherlands and Flanders.

5th November

Translators' workshop in Berlin. For details, please see page 8.



Saturday 4th March

GS AGM in Mainz

Details and agenda nearer the time.


Anglophoner Tag in the UK, to be organised by the ITI. More details in due course.


GS Study weekend in Lübeck. Further details in due course.





The Newsletter of the Chartered Institute of Linguists German Society e.V.


March 2016


Letter from the Chair


Dear Members,


2016 started with our AGM in Lüneburg, home of the ARD soap opera Rote Rosen – maybe I’ll have to start watching the series to catch a glimpse of the attractive old Hanseatic town. After a successful AGM in the Hotel Bergström (aka Hotel Drei Könige in Rote Rosen) we had a fascinating tour of the town hall which dates back to the 14th century.


Our study weekend in Weimar is almost fully booked so if you wish to attend please contact Jadwiga as soon as possible to see if there are any places available (see page 6). In Weimar we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary, and FIL Judith Ridgway will be representing the CIOL in London. Judith was Chair of the West Midlands Regional Society for some years, is a member of Council, Chair of the Business, Professions and Government Division and Chair of the Applications Committee.


The next Translators’ Workshop will be on 5 November in Berlin and we are delighted that we already have four excellent speakers. The details are on page 4.


This year’s Anglophoner Tag will be in Düsseldorf and is being organised by ATICOM. Next year it will be ITI’s turn and then the GS will be responsible in 2018. Does anybody have any suggestions as to a suitable location and topic? Previous GS venues include Potsdam, Hamburg, Munich and Berlin.


Also looking ahead, our 2017 study weekend will be in Lübeck and the topic is to be relations between the Hanseatic League and the UK. Previous study weekends have taken us all over Germany, with the occasional foray abroad, and a wide range of topics has included minority languages and dialects, historical British-German links and many other subjects. We are always on the look-out for ideas for future study weekends so please contact me if you have a suggestion.


All the best from me and the committee




Page 2


Minutes of 2016 German Society of the CIoL


AGM in Lüneburg


The meeting opened at 11.10.


1. Apologies for absence

Apologies for absence were received from Heidi English, Andreas Busse, Anju Okhandiar, Catriona Thomas and Walter Chromik.


2. Approval of agenda

The agenda for the meeting was approved unanimously (proposer Isabelle Thormann, seconder Guglielmo Fittante).


3. Approval of minutes of 2015 AGM

The minutes of the 2015 AGM were approved unanimously (proposer Jadwiga Bobrowska, seconder Norman Ellis).


4. Chairman’s report

Stephanie Tarling delivered the chairman’s report. An overview of events held in 2015 was given, starting with the AGM in Duisburg (thanks to Michael Harrington for organizing the meeting). The study weekend in Cambridge, partly organized by the GS, (September 2015) was a great success.


Attended by 29 people, the translator’s workshop in Berlin (November 2015) was so successful that the next workshop will also be held in Berlin.


Norman Ellis was thanked for his work on the website and the importance of an up-to-date online presence was stressed.


Sally Lamm was thanked for her invaluable work on the newsletter. This year an effort is to be made to stop sending copies out by post instead of e-mail: only those without e-mail or who express an explicit interest in continuing to receive post from us will receive the hard copy.


Regret was expressed that Bernhard is no longer with us.


5. Treasurer’s report

The accounts for 2015 had previously been audited by Isabelle Thormann and Guglielmo Fittante and all found to be in order. The treasurer, Jadwiga Bobrowska, reported on expenditure and income since the last AGM.


The treasurer stressed that the organization is non-profit. At present the GS receives the maximum grant from London of €1200.00 and there can be slight cash-flow problems, in particular regarding the September study weekend, because the funds are not credited to the account until after the event.


Jadwiga explained the complicated situation regarding a bank account for a German non-profit (“eingetragener Verein”) but hopes to be able to obtain a bank card for easier payment of bills.


Jadwiga was thanked for all her hard work.

The auditors were thanked for their inspection.


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6. Formal approval of committee’s actions

The committee’s actions for the past year were approved unanimously by the meeting with thanks (proposer Guglielmo Fittante, seconder Isabelle Thormann).


7. Formal approval of treasurer’s actions

The treasurer’s actions for the past year were approved unanimously by the meeting with thanks (proposer Stephanie Tarling, seconder Norman Ellis).

8. Election of chairman and vice-chairman

Stephanie Tarling was thanked for her work to date and unanimously re-elected as chairman (proposer Isabelle Thormann, seconder Mike Harrington). She agreed to accept. Norman Ellis was thanked for his work to date and unanimously re-elected as vice-chairman (proposer Mike Harrington, seconder Guglielmo Fittante). He agreed to accept.


9. Study weekend in Weimar

Jadwiga Bobrowska reported on the arrangements to date: a) 30 people have expressed their interest, half have registered b) A member of Council will attend and a special lunch to celebrate the 30th anniversary of GS is planned c) There will be a tour around places George Eliot visited d) Weimar is rich in history, so that a private extension of the weekend is recommended.

10. Other future events

The next “Anglophoner Tag” will be hosted by ATICOM in Düsseldorf. It is the turn of GS in 2018. Any ideas for venue, speakers etc. already welcome.


The next translators’ workshop has been booked for 5.11.2016; the venue is once again the Sorat hotel in Berlin.

The 2017 study weekend in Lübeck is now being planned: the topic is to be relations between the Hanseatic league and the UK.


11. Any other business

Sally Lamm would like to hear from anyone who has any specific facts about what Brexit will mean for British passport holders living abroad.


12. Date and venue of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on 4.3.2017, provisional venue Mainz. The meeting closed at 12.40.


Angela Weckler



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GS Translators' Workshop


After a very successful translators’ workshop in 2015 we are staying with the location in Berlin.


Saturday, 5 November 2016 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Venue:            SORAT Hotel Ambassador • Bayreuther Strasse 42-43 • 10787 Berlin.

Directions:      A short walk from Berlin Bhf Zoo and even closer to the ‘U-Bahn’ stop ‘Wittenberg Platz’.


We can already confirm the following speakers:


Richard Delaney: something legal


Ilse Freiburg: Internationale Befragungen – die Kunst, weltweit die richtigen Fragen richtig zu stellen


Alexandra Jones: Translating poetry


Isabelle Thormann: Her most spectacular court cases


The cost will be € 55 for GS and BDÜ members and € 65 for non-members (this includes lunch as well as coffee/tea and water throughout the day). This is payable in advance and is non-refundable. If you would like to attend, please send an e-mail to GS treasurer Jadwiga at J.Bobrowska@gmx.net by no later than 30 September 2016 and you will be put on the list. You will then receive further details.


Looking forward to seeing familiar faces and hopefully lots of new ones.


The GS Committee


Pre- and post-AGM

This proved a delightful visit, especially the historic centre of Lüneburg, with its winding streets and red brick, gabled buildings. The 'advance guard' met on the Friday evening to network and chat in an atmospheric restaurant in the old town. On Saturday, after the AGM in a famous hotel (see Stephanie's message on p. 1), we enjoyed lunch in one of its restaurants with views over the River Ilmenau.


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The day was rounded off with a tour of the oldest surviving part of the large town hall, dating back to the early 14th century. Our guide was both witty and informative, and the hour sped by before the first of the group had to start on their respective journeys home. A huge thanks to GS Secretary Angela for organising it all so well.



The editor's rag bag


Joy Buchanan has kindly sent me two very thoughtful versions of a familiar Christmas song (albeit not seasonal right now, but the first very topical):


O Tannenvolk


O Tannenvolk, O Tannenvolk,

Wenn ihr nur Freude hättet

Ihr lebtet friedlich alleseits

Entwurzelt seid ihr nun bereits.

O Tannenvolk, O Tannenvolk,

Euer Welt ist ganz zerschmettert.


O Tannenvolk, O Tannenvolk!

Ihr seid ja nun gefallen

Ihr habt euch in euer Land gefreut

Ihr seid jetzt in die Welt zerstreut.

O Tannenvolk, O Tannenvolk!

Ihr seid dem Leid verfallen!


O Tannenvolk, O Tannenvolk!

Ihr müsst euer Heim entbehren

Es liegt in Trümmern, steht kein Pfah

Die Häuse platt, das Land ist kahl.

O Tannenvolk, O Tannenvolk! Ihr konntet euch nicht wehren.


O Tannenbaum


O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,

wie treu sind deine Blätter!

Du grünst ja nur zur Sommerzeit,

Entwurzelt wirst zur Weihnachtzeit.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,

wie treu sind deine Blätter!


O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!

Du tust mir ein Gefallen.

Du hast dich in den Wald gefreut

Die Nadeln nun im Raum zerstreut. O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!

Dein Grün ist nun gefallen!


O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!

Dein Kleid will mich was lehren:

Du ziehst es aus, hast keine Wahl

Die Äste sind nun völlig kahl.

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum!

Ich kann dich jetzt entbehren.


We live in turbulent and distressing times. You may have read of an experiment at a London Underground station to encourage passengers to stand on the left on the escalator, allegedly to speed up the overall flow of traffic. As if that wasn't bad enough, France has also carried out a language overhaul which involves simplifying some spellings and abolishing the circumflex, which has greatly distressed purists and provoked a #JeSuisCirconflexe campaign.


Now it's really official – Jürgen Klopp says it's so!

At a February press conference in England prior to a European match in Germany, Klopp contrasted how the British and the Germans dress in inclement weather, adding that the latter still get ill despite the extra layers! I'd love to hear his thoughts on our old friend, Kreislaufschwäche.


And on the subject of health, thanks for a friend for alerting me to the following service


Page 6


Anyone having problems here understanding what their doctor is talking about can consult https://washabich.de – puzzled patients can enter details of their diagnosis in full confidence, and a few days later will receive free of charge a comprehensible explanation provided by medical students. These are aided if need be by a team of doctors and psychologists. This is of course an all-German service.


GS Diary


26 April - 14 May

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's Emilia Galotti, a revival of the German classic known as The German Hamlet, at The Space Theatre (East London). For details please see www.ottisdotter.co.uk  


27 May - 25 June

Shakespeare festival at the Neuss Globe Theatre. The programme is now available on the theatre website. The event will be even more popular than usual in the 400th anniversary year of the Bard's death.


1 - 3 July

Anglophoner Tag in Düsseldorf, organised this year by ATICOM.

For further details and to register, please see:



9 - 11 September

GS study weekend in Weimar.

Full details of this event have already been provided, and we have had a large number of registrations. Interested latecomers should contact GS Treasurer Jadwiga at J.Bobrowska@gmx.net to see if there are still places available. It is worth pointing out, for those who are not familiar with Weimar, that it is a beautiful town rich in history, with many associations – Goethe and Schiller, Liszt, the Weimar Republic and the Bauhaus movement, to name just a few.


19 - 23 October

Frankfurt am Main book fair. Special guests The Netherlands and Flanders.


5 November

Translators' workshop in Berlin. For details, please see page 4.






The Newsletter of the Chartered Institute of Linguists German Society e.V.


January 2016


Letter from the Chair


Dear Members,


2015 was another successful year for the GS, and in 2016 we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the German Society’s inaugural meeting. Sadly, one of our founder members, the wonderful Bernard Hudson, died in September. He was a staunch member from the very beginning, regularly attending events, and his last GS appearance was at the AGM in 2015, impeccably turned out, as always. A full obituary appears on page 2.


In November we had a well-attended Translators’ Workshop in Berlin with four excellent presentations. A full report is on page 4 and we are already planning the next Workshop in Berlin in November 2016.


2016 starts with our AGM on 27 February in Lüneburg and we hope that many of you will take the opportunity to visit this attractive town. On Friday evening there will be a networking dinner at a local restaurant, and after the AGM on Saturday there will be a guided tour of the Rathaus. The agenda and details of the venue and hotels are on page 3.


The penultimate event of the year is the study weekend in Weimar – if you are interested please contact Jadwiga as soon as possible as places are limited and are filling up fast. GS members have priority booking until the middle of March.


Finally I would like to thank the committee – Norman, Jadwiga, Angela and Sally – for all their hard work and support during the past year. Organising events, keeping the website up-to-date and producing the newsletter are vital to the success of the GS. Here’s to the next 30 years!


I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2016.



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Bernard Hudson


20.1.1920 – 20.9.2015


The German Society Committee is sad to announce that the Society has lost its oldest and most distinguished member at the grand age of 95.


Bernard was a founder member of the German Society, served for some years as vice-chairman, and played an active role with presentations on legal translations at a number of translators' workshops. He gave us much practical advice over the years, not to mention entertaining us on many an occasion with witty tales from various stages of his long and varied career in the British Army and his subsequent working life in Germany. Bernard took part in the Normandy invasion in June 1944 and was present a year later at the liberation of Osnabrück.


For some years, Bernard had been suffering various ailments associated with old age, and had had many stays in hospital. In late 2014, he lost his beloved wife of many years, which was a severe blow to him. Nevertheless, Bernard belonged to a stoic and uncomplaining generation, and soldiered on bravely. The last German Society meeting he attended was the AGM in Duisburg, where he was neatly turned out as always, in blazer and regimental tie.

In summer 2014 the French government resolved belatedly to award the Légion d'honneur to all members of the Allied forces still living who had taken part in the D-Day invasion. Sadly, this dragged on for so long that, like many others, Bernard did not live long enough to receive the much-deserved award.


His wisdom, generosity and wit will be greatly missed by all who knew and cherished him.


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CIoL German Society 2016 Annual General Meeting

11 a.m., Saturday 27 February, Lüneburg



1. Apologies for absence

2. Approval of the agenda

3. Approval of the minutes of the 2015 AGM

4. Chairman’s report

5. Treasurer’s report

6. Formal approval by the membership of the committee’s actions

7. Formal approval by the membership of the treasurer’s actions

8. Election of committee members (chairman and vice-chairman)

9. Study weekend in Weimar

10. Other future events

11. A.O.B.

12. Date and place of next meeting


We meet at Hotel Bergström, Bei der Lüner Mühle. For those coming by public transport, it's roughly 10-15 minutes' walk from Lüneburg station. After the AGM we will have lunch there. This will be followed at 3 p.m. by a tour of Lüneburg's historic town hall.


Angela has kindly reserved a contingent of rooms for anyone wanting or needing to stay overnight in Lüneburg. The hotel is the Altes Kaufhaus, and singles cost €94.05 a night, with breakfast an extra €12.50. The rooms will be held until 28 January, and when booking please quote 'Chartered Institute of Linguists'. More reasonably priced options (no contingents held) are the Parkhotel and the Hotel Zum Roten Tore.


Please notify Angela Weckler by 10 February if you will be attending and plan to be there for lunch. There will also be an informal gathering on the evening of Friday 26 March from 7 p.m. at the Krone, Heiligengeiststrasse 39-41. Again, please let Angela know if you plan to attend this as well.


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Translators' workshop in Berlin, 14 November 2015


The German Society Chair was pleased to be able to welcome 28 fellow-linguists to what was to prove a most interesting day of talks about translation in its widest possible sense i.e. how we communicate across cultural, technical and social divides. Participants’ responses ranged from “the speakers were all brilliant”, to “I love these events, I always get something useful out of them and of course, it’s so good to speak to colleagues.”

The first speaker, Susanne Kilian, gave (in English) such a lively presentation that no-one would have guessed she had spent all night interpreting French at the German Foreign Office due to the Paris terrorist attacks and was scheduled to fly to Brussels for more interpreting at the end of her talk. Her work as a UN interpreter has sharpened her understanding of cultural differences and led to the realization that there is no such thing as “the perfect word” in translation.


Delving deeper into cultural differences and why, for example, British, Canadians and Americans tend to apologize far more often than Germans, who suspect that expressions of regret are camouflaging a blatant lie, Kilian explained something about how the brain processes our responses. At the most basic level, our reptilian brain deals with instinct - freeze, flight or fight. The limbic region is about emotions, but it’s where most of our decisions are made. It is also shaped by the world we grow up in. The neo-cortex, “the IT department”, deals with the rational.


One and the same word will pull different emotional triggers, and we subconsciously filter information to see whether it is safe and trustworthy. If someone’s speech or attitude seems unfamiliar, the brain goes into alert mode, there could be danger ahead. Which brings us back to those apologies. When English speakers are faced with German directness, their emotional response can cause the neo-cortex to shut down and thus hinder all rational communication. An appeasement strategy - “I’m sorry, perhaps I didn’t explain properly” - is an attempt to clarify the situation. With luck, the other side will recognize the appeasement strategy and respond accordingly.


But why are Germans so direct, so “get on with it”? It is a trait they share with Finns, Estonians, Israelis and Dutch people. Kilian believes it comes from a long history of trade between many tiny states when a functional approach to language was the most useful communication tool, and from centuries of being Europe’s favourite battlefield, which resulted in countless rounds of destruction and re-construction, and a resultant


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ascendancy of technical language. This appears to be as good an explanation as any of why Germans “can do everything, except small talk”, as the title of her talk said.


The next speaker, Richard Delaney, is a qualified barrister in England who “slithered” into translating when he discovered that even a sworn legal translation can be wrong. He had titled his talk “How to be incomprehensible in more than one language”, and started by asking his audience why legal language is perceived as difficult. Some of the reasons given were: lack of punctuation, old-fashioned language, and complicated constructions designed to obscure the meaning.


Delaney mentioned that in England and Wales steps have been taken to simplify legal language. Some reforms, such as turning the Plaintiff into the Claimant, are not perhaps necessary. But the legalese that people find difficult is often there for a purpose, because the technical terms, such as “legal standing” or locus standi*, instantly and precisely describe an entire concept to all involved in a court case - with the possible or even probable exception of the layperson. Interestingly, many historic phrases stem from the urge to be clear to both the nobility (Norman French) and the lower orders (Anglo-Saxon), giving us doublets such as “aid and abet”, or “hue and cry”, or even triplets such as “grant, devise and bequeath” that are not found in German.


Those of us who have spent years battling German’s stunning ability to turn just about any phrase or concept into a single, if lengthy, noun, were gratified to find that just occasionally the boot can be on the other foot. Mesne profits, Richard told us, is the daily rate of rent charged when a tenant fails to move out at the end of his contract. German has the concept, but no word, so that an entire paragraph in a rental agreement is needed to cover it.

Overall, as one would expect, German legal texts do tend to make far more use of nouns where English prefers verbs. Over the years some English terms have changed their meaning and therefore seem strange; only in a legal text does “consideration” mean something of value promised in connection with a contract, whereas ordinary Germans have no problem understanding the word “Gegenleistung”.


Although ambiguity in legal texts is often criticized, it can be deliberate. Often the wording of an international agreement leaves the signatories a degree of wiggle room so that they can ‘sell’ it to their compatriots. Without ambiguity, no agreement would have been reached, given the widely differing interests of those involved. The term “within a reasonable period” is likewise open to interpretation and wrangling, just as the equivalent term in German is.


*The legally protectible stake or interest that an individual has in a dispute that entitles him to bring the controversy before the court to obtain judicial relief.


After lunch - always a welcome opportunity to network - the next topic also had something to do with the law. Dr Isabelle Thormann is a sworn reviewer of linguistic products, called upon to appraise in an official capacity the quality of texts, translations, language teaching or similar. However, a second string to her bow is a skill that was unfamiliar to many in the audience - linguistic profiling. The main areas in which the profiler’s expertise is required are ransom notes, blackmail, threats, hate emails, forged wills and similar criminal activities that involve some sort of written product. Lined up on opposite sides are the writer of a text with some nefarious purpose in mind - such as ruining a business as revenge for being fired - and the person whose aim is to deprive him of the hoped-for gains. Some writers attempt to “dumb down” and make deliberate


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spelling mistakes, or use language they think sounds uneducated; others will try to use “posh” words to sound more educated than they are, or outmoded slang, in an attempt to sound older. Some will make mistakes they hope sound like a foreigner’s speech. Careful examination can reveal the subterfuge.


As she works with German texts, Isabelle spoke in German and her examples related to the German language, but the basic methods apply to other languages too. Ideally, there will be a suspect and a large amount of other material written by the suspect. It is then a question of looking for peculiarities of speech in the regular material and seeing if they match peculiarities in the anonymous or disputed piece. For example, do the same mistakes that a spell checker can’t find occur in all of them? Does the author favour certain grammatical forms, certain tenses? Does he/she use an em dash or a hyphen? A space between the last letter of a word and the full stop? Does he regularly use unusual word order? Double negatives? Is he consistently inconsistent - such as writing email and e-mail interchangeably?


Some kinds of mistake in German, such as wrongly positioned commas, may point to an influence of the English language, so that it is fair to assume the person can speak English. And trying to sound Turkish in a German text is also fraught, as Kurds and Turks make different mistakes and the fraudster is liable to mix them up. The Federal Criminal Police Office has concordance programs to analyze text corpora. Linguistic profiling will point to a conclusion ranging from highly likely to highly unlikely that a person suspected of authorship actually wrote the text in question. Dr Thormann’s talk was quite an eye-opener and did indeed make participants ask, as her talk was sub-titled, “how revealing is one’s personal use of language?”


And now for something completely different: after Dr. Thormann’s challenging array of grammatical and stylistic markers in written German, Nick Tanner introduced us to Jamie Oliver, Britain’s enfant terrible of the kitchen, in his German incarnation. Jamie Oliver is, as Nick put it, a mould breaker. In his cookery books Jamie writes as he talks on TV, his English colourfully and irrepressibly Estuary. Whereas Delia Smith, for many years the UK’s best-selling cookery author, gives a step by step list of instructions and precise amounts, Jamie will recommend chucking in some herbs or adding a