Monday, 25 August 2014

Hi all!
Today, some thoughts on dealing with the Erlebnis- prefix.

The word Erlebnis in German indicates a (short-lived?) experience of some kind, often an adventure or discovery, something exciting and different. In translation texts, it can sometimes be translated with ‘adventure’ (as in Erlebnis-Spielplatz), but this only really works when there are activities involved, such as mountainbiking or hiking. Otherwise, there will usually be some ‘working around’ needed, depending on the specific context.

Sometimes the Erlebnis- prefix is used in compounds such as Freizeit- und Erlebnishotel (‘leisure and activity hotel’ being one possible offering in English) or Spiele- und Erlebniswelt. I translated the latter as ‘fun play and discovery area’. I couldn’t use my trusty friend ‘adventure playground’ here because there was also an Abenteuerspielplatz outside the hotel and this was clearly an indoor facility. As always, the pictures on the hotel’s website gave me all the info I needed!

Erlebnisbad/-becken is very popular. I often go for ‘fun pool’ (i.e. as opposed to a ‘proper’ pool where we serious swimmers go to do a few laps!), though ‘water park’ can also work if the facility is fairly large, with lots of slides, massage jets (Erlebnisduschen!) etc.

Erlebnis(wander)pfad is another favourite. The key, as ever with Erlebnis-, is to convey the idea that (to mis-quote M&S) this is no ordinary walk, this is a…. Anyway, you get the picture. If what you are describing is more than just a path - for example there are parcours activities to do along the way, or the trail takes walkers through spectacular natural features - then this is clearly an Erlebnispfad, in which case ‘discovery/adventure trail’ will often get you out of trouble.

For Erlebnisausstellung I favour ‘interactive/multimedia exhibition’. ‘Hands-on’ also does the job quite well (though sounds a bit lower-tech maybe?).  Erlebnismuseum I would translate with ‘interactive/themed museum’. For a glimpse of what must be the ultimate multi-sensory museum experience, take a look at this video of the “Lavadome” in Mendig (Eifel). If you haven’t got kids to take there, go find some!!

I came across Erlebnisberg the other day. I didn’t like the ‘adventure mountain’ or (even odder) ‘fun mountain’ that Google and Linguee threw up. It just didn’t compute… sounded like something you would find at Alton Towers! I guess what users of Erlebnisberg are trying to convey is the idea that the mountain in question is not just grand/majestic/eminently skiable-down… it also offers myriad other attractions: a children’s playground/fancy bistro/floodlit toboggan run, etc. etc. So maybe ‘The … (insert name of peak)… Mountain Experience’ is the way to go! Always sounds a bit overblown to me, but if it brings in the tourists… If having fun on mountains is your thing, take a look at this, as fine an example of an Erlebnisberg as you will ever see:

Another coinage which always gives pause for thought is the ubiquitous Erlebniswelt. Generally speaking, something like ‘a world of discovery’ (which I used in this recent translation for Stuttgart’s Tramworld visitor attraction or just ‘exciting world of’ (coins/maps, whatever it happens to be!) can often work. In fact, ‘exciting’ and ‘vibrant’ do good service in many contexts. Faced with Erlebnismetropole when translating a book about Graz recently, I plumped for ‘vibrant city’. An under-translation, maybe?

Less common usages of our ‘prefix of the week’ pop up all the time. Erlebnis-Lunch was one which gave many of us food for thought on ProZ the other day. An ‘adventure lunch’ was felt to be wide of the mark (if not downright scary!); other suggestions offered were mostly along the lines of ‘local/speciality lunch’ (i.e. not bog standard fare but local/speciality dishes). See the full discussion here:

Let me know how you have dealt with Erlebnis-. Always good to hear other people’s renderings!






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