Anglophoner Tag 5.‒7. June, 2015 in Kassel

This year’s Anglophoner Tag took place in Kassel, home of the Dokumenta, the Brothers Grimm and the World Heritage Site of Wilhelmshöhe. It was a very interesting weekend and we learned a lot about renewable energy and fairy tales but, as Reiner Heard pointed out, there is no connection.

The Anglophoner Tag started on Friday afternoon when a fair sized group of participants drove through beautiful countryside to get to the Fraunhofer test centre in Kassel, known as IWESSysTec: Testzentrum für intelligente Netze und Elektromobilität. During our more than 90-minute tour we were given a lot of background on the sort of research that is carried out there. The test centre was set up for research into so-called smart grids and electro mobility. Companies can come here to test, for example, solar panels or batteries for electric cars and then work together with the test centre on perfecting their technologies before going to institutions such as the TÜV for certification. If the technology that needs testing is not easily transportable, such as wind energy towers, then the test centre also has mobile testing equipment that it can transport to the required location. The tour and the discussions along the way gave us all a fascinating insight into the potential practical consequences of the research at the centre, which could ultimately have a positive impact on the environment. The day finished with dinner in a local beer garden.

Saturday was spent in the conference hotel, located very conveniently next to the ICE train station. Brigitte Valessa-Steinke, the BDÜ Hesse chair, welcomed us to the 21st Anglophoner Tag before we settled down to enjoy a very varied selection of presentations. First of all Reiner Heard (Chair of ATICOM) gave a very informative presentation about the problems and prospects of renewable energy sources ‒ wind (turbines), solar (photovoltaic, solar panels), hydro (water), biomass (farming and forestry waste), geothermal (geysers, eg in Iceland) and marine (tidal or wave power). All types of renewables have advantages and disadvantages, with the problems ranging from noise (eg wind turbines), technical (intermittency of supply due to variable winds, lack of sun etc) and the problems of storing electricity. Public problems include the nimby variant, the nimble (not in my Bundesland either), who is pro renewable energy sources but does not want new overhead power lines crossing his state. Germany has a lot of potential for renewables and the situation is improving but it needs to become more cost effective and politically and economically attractive. Currently the traditional fuel sources have stronger lobbies than the renewable energy sources but the prospects are bright. The situation is improving slowly but there is definitely room for expansion and at the moment the focus is on a combination of renewable and conventionals.

Garth Pritchard’s entertaining talk was originally entitled “The fairy tale industry and the translation trade” but he decided to rename it “Lessons from the Brothers Grimm for translators”. The Brothers Grimm were professional linguists who were based in Kassel when they collected their 210 fairy tales, “translating” them from oral to written. The original stories were definitely not suitable for children but were ruthlessly edited by the brothers to avoid any hint of eroticism. The three axioms of translating are reflected in the work of the Brothers Grimm. One: good and great (and all successful) translations begin with a high valuation of the source material on the part of the translator. The brothers didn’t just transcribe the tales they heard but they adapted them for a new audience, which can also be seen in the Disney versions today. Two: translators occupy a space between two worlds. The Grimms collected the folk tales from a vanishing oral tradition and brought them into the modern world. Three: translations are always particular and never perfect. The brothers collected and compared tales from various sources before deciding on their own version. This reflects the translator who sees both sides of the situation and has to decide which phrase to use. The fundamental choice – how much should the translator alter the text? There is always more than one good translation.

The morning’s presentations were completed by Siegfried Hoss from the Museumslandschaft Hessen who explained the technicalities of the water features in the Wilhelmshöhe Bergpark. This park originated in the 18th century and has been a World Heritage Site since 2013 as it is of outstanding universal value. The water display is shown twice a week in summer and once a month there is an illuminated version. The display starts at the top of the park, near the statue of Hercules and makes its way down the very steep slopes to the final fountain which is the most voluminous in the world. Siegfried Hoss very enthusiastically described how intricate and clever the  system is, especially considering that it dates from 1750.

After lunch Regina Simmes gave a brief summary of the visit to SysTec and talked about other institutes in Kassel which deal with renewable energy sources, such as the university and the Fraunhofer Institute. There is a lot of local support for renewables which is reflected in many local organisations. These deal with different aspects of research and also provide services for renewable energy systems. The university in Kassel is an important focus for renewables, offering courses in photovoltaic etc.

Barbara Müller-Grant rounded off the AT with a presentation on aspects of real estate law related to energy issues. This included the energy efficiency pass which is not yet compulsory for selling or purchasing a house but is needed more and more. We also had a discussion on the problems of translating real estate terms from German into British and American English. After spending a lot of the day listening Barbara encouraged us to think of translations for various terms and gave some useful links to help with real estate translations.

After dinner a group visited the Bergpark to see the spectacular illuminated water displays. The more intrepid members made their way by bus to the top and walked down while the less adventurous stayed near the bottom. We all enjoyed the various features but I was glad of my torch on the way back, as the paths are unlit and not very smooth.

On Sunday a guided tour of Kassel city centre was an interesting end to an excellent AT. Here our guide told us a lot about the Dokumenta and pointed out various installations which can still be seen, including Joseph Beuys’ 7000 oak trees which date from 1982. Never having been to Kassel before I assumed it would be an uninteresting venue but I freely admit my mistake and hope to revisit the city, maybe to visit the Dokumenta in 2017.

Sally Lamm

We have kindly been granted permission to reprint this report, which first appeared in the Sept. 2015 issue of GS News (Newsletter of the Chartered Institute of Linguists German Society e.V.).

Diese Artikel erschien im FORUM 2/2015.