Thursday, 21 March 2019


Translating the German word ‘pur’ into English


I was inspired to write this short piece after grappling last week with finding a sensible-sounding rendering of ‘Münchener Lebensart pur’ (of which more later) which cropped up in a translation for a Munich bus company.

 Directly cognate with English, the primary meaning of the adjective ‘pur’ is, of course, ‘pure, straight, unadulterated’, as here:

diese Kette ist aus purem Gold   or     ich nehme ein Glas puren Wodka

Used to upsell all sorts of things, from food and drink to spa treatments and summer holidays,  it is a favourite of marketing copywriters looking for a neat way to indicate the superlative quality or authenticity of a particular object or, more frequently, experience. Often the ‘pur’ will follow a noun for effect. For example, ‘pure luxury’, grammatically speaking, is ‘purer Luxus’ in German, yet you are more likely to see ‘Luxus pur’ – it’s just more effective somehow!

A quick scout through recent tourism assignments throws up such perennial favourites as
Urlaubsfreude pur’ (or, more likely these days, Urlaubsfeeling!). Clearly ‘pure holiday joy’ doesn’t cut it, so a workaround is necessary.

Other ‘regulars’ I come across are: ‘Entspannung pur‘ (no issues there), ‘Stimmung pur’ (slightly more troublesome as ‘pure atmosphere’ is a bit odd. Prefer great/vibrant…) and everyone’s favourite: ‘Natur pur’ which was the subject of a lively discussion in a FB group recently. The consensus seemed to be a translation along the lines of ‘nature at its very best’.

Here are some other examples from recent projects featuring ‘pur’, and how I dealt with them:

-          In nur 17 Autominuten sind Sie in einer der schönsten Thermen Tirols, dem Aqua Dome im Ötztal. Entspannung pur ist Ihnen im Thermalwasser garantiert

= and just 17 minutes away by car is the Ötztal Aqua Dome, one of the Tyrol’s most beautiful spas. Relaxing in warm, soothing thermal waters after a busy day skiing – what could be better?

-          Adrenalin pur verspricht eine Fahrt mit dem Schneescooter oder mit der Schneeraupe.

= and there is no shortage of options for adrenaline junkies, including snowmobile and snowcat rides. 

-          Abenteuer pur ist auf der drei Kilometer langen Rodelbahn Le Pleney und im Hochseilgarten „Indiana Parc“ bei Morzine geboten

= Winter holidaymakers in Morzine will find there’s plenty of fun to be had at both the 3-kilometre long toboggan run Le Pleney and the “Indiana Parc” high-ropes course

-      Türkisfarbenes Meer, blauer Himmel und Sonne pur, und das alles weit weg vom Pauschaltourismus.

= Enjoy the combination of turquoise sea, blue skies and non-stop sunshine away from the hurly-burly of mass tourism

-      In der "Oase der Ruhe" erfahren Sie Wellness pur, hier schalten Sie auf beheizten Wasserbetten bei Meditationsmusik ab.

= Enjoy the pure indulgence of lying on a heated waterbed in our Oasis of Peace listening to the gentle sound of meditation music

-      Die Kombination des weitläufigen Shops mit integrierten Bar und einer einzigartigen Wassersportatmosphäre bietet Urlaubsfeeling pur für ein entspanntes Shoppingvergnügen

= Our well-stocked shops, with bar attached, and the unique watersports atmosphere we’ve created will make shopping a real pleasure and enhance your holiday experience.


… and ‘Münchener Lebensart pur’? Well, anything involving ‘pure lifestyle’ was always going to sound weird, so I went for something along the lines of ‘the beating heart of Munich’.
***Stop Press: randomly googling ‘Lebensart pur’ just now has thrown up lots of renderings along the lines of ‘(capturing) the essence of the city’. Now why didn’t I think of that?!




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