Category Archives: Various outbursts


Germany for job prospects

Going continental: not only breakfast-wise this could be a refreshing alternative.
Whilst the British job market is still somewhat under the weather, the German economy has picked up pace rather quickly, after the recession, and employers are facing difficulties in filling all the positions needed for a further fertilization of the flourishing marketplace.

There is a high requirement in engineering, for IT people, mathematicians, physicists, in micro- and nano-technology, in fact all things high-tech.

Those who have experienced business in Germany through company contacts, a temporary posting or an internship will confirm that there is a very welcoming attitude towards speakers of English and that centuries of exchanging literature, music, Royals and, in later decades, film, TV and footballers have brought the cultures closer together than any historic idiot could have imagined.

In the past, quite a number of Britons made their first contact with Germany through a posting within the British Forces and many have chosen to stay and set up a career and family life on the other side of the Channel.
This decision used to be facilitated by a rather good level of support that they received in the transition.
However, this link is not everybody’s cup of tea, and about to be discontinued, anyway.

So, is there help for people who would like to venture on the German job market?

For a start, you can find lots of useful tips, also in English, under
More in-depth information, from a British viewpoint, seems to be harder to find.

A very good anthology has recently been published in French *, by Barbara Pasquier, a journalist, living between France and Germany herself.
She calls it a “toolbox” and in fact, that is what it is: Readers will find

  • information on the specific requirements when settling in Germany, typical  stumbling blocks such as residency or medical insurance etc.
  • conditions that are specific to individual industries or status, i.e. posting or local contract, internship, self-employed, dependants
  • job seeking and job centres, application culture
  • business culture
  • flat or house hunting
  • information for families, crèche, kindergarten, school
  • tax, bank, utilities, car/driving licence, insurance, marriage, divorce and other unforeseen circumstances and what to do if you want to leave the country again…
  • and, highly recommended, a dictionary of useful terms and expressions that you might need in everyday life, in contact with authorities and employers.

A very handy toolbox it is indeed, and probably one that the English speaking market could do with as well.

Auf Wiedersehen, pets


*The book is also available here (at a slightly lower price):

Translation comedy – Gerglish? Engman? Googleegong!

Why the UK should keep up teaching MFL

This article was sent to me on the JISCmail German Studies List
It was written by Dr.Falco Pfalzgraf (translation by Lingonews)

English speakers love having a laugh with “Chinglish”

but there are also some rather funny translations around in the United Kingdom:
I bought a packet of “Stem Ginger Biscuits” produced by “Fudges” from Dorset. On the packaging of this rather pricy product, the sentence “Stem Ginger Biscuits half dipped in Belgian Dark Chocolate”, in its German version turns out as “Halten Sie die Ingwer-Biskuithälfte auf, die in belgische dunkle Schokolade eingetaucht wird” [Stop the half ginger sponge-cake in its tracks, that is being dipped in Belgian dark chocolate]. Strange – did the translator (or computer) understand “stem” as the imperative of the German “stemmen”, meaning “stop in its tracks” (or like a ‘Stemmeisen’=crowbar)? Google Language Tools offer the following options as a German translation for the English word “stem”: “eindämmen, aufhalten, hemmen” [to dam up, to stop, to constrain] – always assuming that it’s a verb. Also strange: “Biskuit” instead of “Keks” or “Plätzchen” [sponge-cake rather than biscuit or cookie]. And: the “ginger shavings” in German turn into the incredible “ingwerrasieren” [trim the ginger’s beard].

The Spanish version is even more interesting, the sentence “Stem Ginger Biscuits half dipped in Belgian Dark Chocolate” becomes “Provenga la mitad de las galletas del jengibre sumergida en chocolate oscuro belga” – here, too, they take it as an imperative, however, this time, the English “stem” is regarded as “to be a descendant of” in the sense of “origin”. Thus, approximately: “Be a descendant, half of the biscuit of the ginger […]” The “ginger shavings” , too, are remarkable: “jengibre que afeita” – “ginger trimming someone’s beard”. “Ground ginger” becomes “jengibre de tierra”, that is “earth ginger”.  “Stem ginger” becomes “Jengibre del vastago”, i.e. “ginger of the sapling”, etc.
Of course, there is a nice French version, too 🙂
Should anybody like to see the packaging, here it is:

Really, MFL teaching in the UK is of the essence.

Comment by Lingonews: As for the teaching, I couldn’t agree more.
Manufacturers who would like to market their – really much appreciated – products in the European marketplace should be wary of free translation (it’s like that free lunch).
Professional translators are happy go that extra kilometre for them – and a short product description still comes at a very low price.

Memorable reference

That’s what my customer was, when he found this job reference of his great grandfather’s.
As a matter of fact, the good man was always at his post, diligent and well-behaved.

Even modern handwriting is not always a piece of cake. Any parents or teachers out there who have struggled to appreciate the written intellectual performance of those who have not yet taken entirely to keyboard-only writing don’t need to be reminded.

When it comes to historic documents, reading can become even more of a challenge. Not only are we suddenly dealing with a different and not throughout normatized presentation of the individual letters – there are old ways of spelling, words that have come out of use and, as in the case of modern handwriting, spelling mistakes and awkward corrections.
Google translation doesn’t help, but there are some very supportive pages:

on German “Kurrent”script:
on “Sütterlin” script:
and for “Fraktur”

As translating this type of handwriting cannot be based on simple word count, the pricing should be well considered …
but isn’t it great to find out that your great grandfather was just the kind of 19th century role model that you always thought he was?

Goethe for a grey November day

Building your business is like planting a garden. A fellow translator once said that and I liked it then.
Looking out of the window on a grey November day, the idea sounds less tempting.
Well, it might be right with regard to careful planning and selecting the best suited soil, plants and fertilizer – but what about Darwin and survival of those that adapt best?
What about the joyful discovery of new developments, of beautiful wild flowers and berries, what about attracting birds and butterflies?
On a grey November day, let’s support the artistic angle of the language business.
The land of translation is like the land of song: Infinite and inspiring, disregarding whether you’re dealing with joyful, exciting, simple, complicated or even dull varieties.
You struggle, you discover, you enjoy the plenitude.

And, as for the building aspect, there is an ever true stanza from Goethe’s ‘Singspiel’ (playlet) Lila, set as a song (‘Beherzigung’) by Brahms and other composers:

Cowardly thoughts,
in anxious vacillation,
sissyish* hesitation
fearful lamentation
will not change adversity
will not set you free.

Opposing all force
staying true to one’s course,
never to yield,
maintaining your field,
will call the arms of the Gods
to your side.

*mmhh, obviously Goethe and his contemporaries wouldn’t have used the term “sissyish”. The Man himself called it “weibisch”, woman-like, effeminate – nothing to do with political correctness, it sounds wrong nowadays. Even someone’s attempt to translate the thought by spineless doesn’t cover the idea. Tough luck for our sisters called Sissy – the word fits best.

Markets or windmills?

A glorious late autumn day is laughing by my window, laughing at my chase of wild internet geese, giggling at the sight of an optimistic one-person business trying to pick up threads on the global translation market.
Lovely India, why does my heart sink at the sight of your name?  Venerable China, how come you’re worrying me? Is the global market just a giant Kinderdijk, the Dutch windmill wonderland? Are internet hunters just armies of fameless Don Quixotes?
Thank God, my good old personally known customers are still around – however, they could do with some company.

English French Dutch to German translation? Contact me

Dragons around

Back from a marvellous weekend in Cardiff. Such a pity that Wales lost to the Aussies – the trouble with a live match is that ref decisions can be even more mysterious than on TV.
The one good thing about being further and further removed from the age of wanting to be a princess is that you can enjoy dragons unrestrictedly – and, wow, what a great sight they all were…