Sunday, 10 January 2016

Translating ‘Natur- into English

With more than a third of the country covered with forest and no fewer than 16 national parks (, Germany has plenty to offer nature lovers (Naturliebhaber). The more naturbelassen (unspoilt) a place is, the better. In fact, I would say that finding a location with intakte Natur is almost a holy grail for many holidaymaking Germans! Before we get down to business, anyone needing a reminder of Germany’s manifold natural wonders can take a look at this:

So, let’s think about die Natur or, as we Brits rather quaintly call it, the Great Outdoors! A quick look through the Natur- words in my glossary shows that more often than not I have translated them (surprise, surprise!) using the English equivalents: ‘nature’ or ‘natural’:

  • für Kinder gibt es das Naturerlebnispfad und Naturhochseilgarten = kids will love the nature discovery trail and our forest high-ropes course
  • XXX steht inmitten eines Natur- und Ferienparadies = is located in a popular holiday area in a spectacular natural setting
  • nicht zu vergessen ist das Naturschutzgebiet, das Große Torfmoor = a ‘must’ on any itinerary is the nature conservation area known as…
  • ist nur eines von vielen unvergesslichen Naturerlebnissen, die den Besucher erwarten = one of the many unforgettable natural wonders (anything but ‘natural experiences’!)                                                        
  • ein tolles Sport- und Naturerlebnis = the ultimate sporting experience in a glorious natural setting

… but on just as many occasions, ‘country’ or ‘countryside’ sounded better, as here:

  • Genießen Sie Ihre Ferien inmitten herrlicher Natur = enjoy a relaxing holiday in picture-book countryside
  • Stille atmen, Weite genießen und Natur erleben - das ist Urlaub auf unserem Ferienhof! = fresh air, peace and quiet and miles of beautiful open countryside – everything you expect from a farmhouse holiday is right here!

Sometimes, the best rendering is simply open-air’, where the prefix Natur- is used to indicate that a particular attraction or facility is out of doors, e.g. Naturbühne = an open-air stage (as opposed to an indoor arena), and Naturerlebnisbad = an outdoor adventure pool (rather than the covered kind). And when food - or some other item made from all-natural materials - is being described, ‘organic’ is generally the way to go.

To finish, the award for most commonly recurring use of Natur- in a strapline has to go to “Natur pur!” (“Nature at its best”, maybe?), a phrase that German writers of marketing copy have really taken to their hearts. No surprise then that this neat little rhyming collocation, used day in day out to sell all manner of products from yogurt and bread to shoes, cosmetics, flooring and activity holidays, gets a million and a half hits on Google!




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