Friday, 19 December 2014

Translating ‘vor Ort’

Literally meaning “in front of/outside the place”, vor Ort is used to convey the idea of something happening or being available locally (often preceded by direkt), or a person being on the spot, e.g. at an event. Hence it is frequently heard in news bulletins when handing over to someone ‘at the scene’: Unser Reporter Matthias Braun ist vor Ort…

Examples from recent non-tourism contexts I’ve translated include:

·        vor-Ort-Service = on-site service, e.g. tyre-fitting (where they come to your premises to do the work)

·        neben unserem Online-Angebot wird es auch Präsenzseminare vor Ort geben = ... there will also be face-to-face seminars (vor Ort added almost for reinforcement)

·        (another example where vor Ort is almost redundant) 20% Rabatt auf vor Ort im Hotel gebuchte Leistungen = 20 % discount on all services used during your stay at the hotel

·        die Messezeitung ist ein beliebtes Hilfsmittel, um sich im Vorfeld und direkt vor Ort für den Messebesuch fit zu machen = the bulletin is a useful aid for visitors who want to get up to speed both before and during the fair

·        das groβe Vorteil der Online-Registrierung: Nutzung des Quick-Check-In vor Ort = the big advantage of online registration: fast check-in on arrival

·        Als Laudator ist der Träger des “Brain of the Year Award“ Prof. [..] von der Universität [...} vor Ort = here to present the award will be the holder of the “Brain of the Year Award”, Professor[…] of Lund University

I have also often come across the use of vor Ort in slogans:                                Wir sind vor Ort /immer stark vor Ort = we’re right where you need us/always there when you need us

The following examples are taken from travel and tourism texts:

·        Kultur vor Ort (as a heading) = cultural attractions/things to do in and around Kempten

·        Wintersportschulen vor Ort bieten Ski-, Snowboard-, und Langlaufkurse = local winter sports schools offer tuition in downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding

·        Gerne geben wir Ihnen vor Ort die von uns überprüften Vorschläge für Restaurants, Ausflüge und Aktivitäten = on your arrival we will be happy to recommend tried and trusted restaurants and provide information on excursions and activities to enjoy during your stay.

Sometimes, in the interests of clarity, it is necessary to specify the particular Ort in question in the English translation!

·        Skipässe sind vor Ort zu kaufen = ski passes can be bought in-resort

·        vor Ort eine Zusatzversicherung abschlieβen = take out additional insurance at the car rental station

·        Sonnenschirme und Strandliegen werden direkt vor Ort vermietet = umbrellas etc. can be hired on the beach

·        Theaterkarten sind vor Ort bestellbar = direct from the box-office

·        Unser Haus und seine Lage haben für jeden etwas im Angebot: unzählige Freizeitmöglichkeiten in der Umgebung und vielfältige Abendunterhaltung direkt vor Ort = ... lots to see and do in the local area and a varied programme of evening entertainment right here (i.e. in the hotel)









Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Translating ‘Wanderung’ into English

A much-loved activity in the German-speaking world, walking/hiking/rambling – call it what you will – is taken extremely seriously, so much so that there is a designated organisation (the Deutsches Wanderinstitut) which works to promote hiking as a leisure activity, both for the Germans themselves and for visiting Wandertouristen, awarding much-coveted quality seals for what they describe as Premiumwanderwege.
So, today’s focus is on wandern and the best way to translate it. Though cognate with the English word ‘wander’, the German wandern describes an altogether different kind of walking, not a leisurely stroll/walk/ramble (for which spazierengehen is more appropriate), but something much more purposeful and (probably) longer. For a brief discussion on what constitutes a ‘Wanderung’, see: 
...or for a lengthier definition take a look at:
Generally, in English ‘hiking’ will fit the bill most of the time… or possibly ‘rambling’, though I would need an expert in the field to explain further! (Is it hiking if hills are involved and rambling if done on the flat?!) Anyway, where things get a bit trickier is when Wander-/Wanderung forms part of a compound word, sometimes (as you will see from some of the examples below) to describe an activity where no actual walking is involved at all! Here is a random selection of wander- words from my glossary:

·        Weinwanderung/Weinwanderweg = vineyard/wine-tasting tour (I note that Linguee offers the rather odd ‘wine ramble’, (which, in my view, has rather unfortunate connotations!)

·        Wasserwanderung = well,… a boat trip really!

·        Schneeschuhwanderung = snowshoe hike

·        Erlebniswanderung = adventure hike/trail (though always best to check out exactly what the promised Erlebnis is before attempting to translate!)

·        Fern-Radwanderwege (e.g. the apparently very scenic “Saale” and “Thüringer Städtekette”, two popular ‘long-distance cycle paths’ which featured in a Jena guidebook I translated recently).

·        Wanderbus = hiking bus (i.e. special bus laid on to transport hikers to the start of their chosen trail)

·        Wanderritte = pony trekking (as opposed to serious horse-riding)

·        Wandergolf = scenic crazy golf. It took me a while to come up with an adequate translation for this as I have never come across the concept in this country. This is crazy golf that goes on for miles, meaning you can enjoy all the benefits of a proper yomp… and pot a few holes along the way! Looks like fun:

·        klimatherapeutische Wanderung/Heilklimawanderung = climate hike/hike led by a climate therapist (i.e. a brisk, usually extended walk, with the focus on achieving optimum health benefits by finding the perfect step rhythm, doing  breathing exercises along the way, measuring your pulse and blood pressure as you go etc. etc...

Phew, sounds a bit strenuous! On that note, dear Wanderfreunde, I’m off for lunch… and then maybe a walk (definitely neither time nor energy for a hike - climatic or otherwise!)


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

How to translate Edel-

Originating from the Middle High German edele, meaning noble, kingly, gallant, Edel-/edle is these days used less to describe people and much more to describe products or services that are top-of-the-range, the best of their kind. Unsurprisingly, it is much favoured in marketing material for the travel and tourism industry in which potential consumers are to be convinced that the holiday experience they are about to enjoy will be of the highest quality in every respect!

A trawl through recent translations I have done reveals a variety of possible English renderings. These include:  fine/sophisticated/high-end/luxury/exquisite/elegant/chic/top-of-the-range. Which of these you go for will depend, as always, on the product being described… and what just sounds best!
In my experience Edel- is most likely to pop up in one of the following contexts:

Shopping: When translating a ‘historic Hamburg’ calendar last year, I came across the fascinating Alsterhaus (located on the city’s Jungfernstieg), an Edelkaufhaus (luxury department store) if ever there was one! It first opened its doors in 1902 and is still a big draw for visitors to the city. Websites about Munich are also guaranteed to be chock-full of references to the city’s plethora of edle Boutiquen (exclusive shops), and not for nothing is the elegant shopping district along Maximilianstrasse known in all guidebooks as the edle Shoppingmeile.

Food & drink:  Texts about food & drink also offer fertile ground for liberal use of edel-, my most recent encounter being with an Edel-Italiener (referring not - alas! - to a handsome, high-born Latin type – but to a high-end Italian eatery!) Here’s the sentence: “Ob traditionelle Weinstube oder Edelitaliener, Sterneküche oder Deluxe-Burger, hier gibt es...”). Obviously not the sort of place where you might expect a bog standard spag bol and a glass of rough red, i.e. not einen edlen Tropfen (a fine or top-drawer wine/an outstanding vintage) or an Edel-Hell or Edel-Weisse (brewed with extra-fine hops, I guess?).  Last week I came across Edel-Hirschgulasch on a menu I was translating. I am assuming that the Edel- there referred not to the venison’s aristocratic credentials (I guess that would have been an Edelhirsch-Gulasch?!) but to the high-quality ingredients in which it was cooked!

Anyway, blogging time is up, so I’m off for a cup of Edeltee (yes, it does exist! See this wonderful website for tea-lovers: and… well, maybe just a few squares of finest Edelschokolade.


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Today’s insider tip: Geheimtipp!
Geheimtipp is much used in tourism texts to indicate a thing, place (or even a person*… see examples below!) which is in some way special, highly recommended, a real ‘must-see’. Of course, the Geheim- prefix carries the notion of secrecy, so translations along the lines of ‘little-known gem’, ‘best-kept/well-guarded secret’ will often fit the bill nicely. A typical example might be: Sri Lanka gilt bis heute als Geheimtipp unter den asiatischen Reisezielen = Until now, Sri Lanka has been a well-kept secret among Asian destinations.
But here are some alternative offerings taken from recent projects, none of which feature the words ‘secret’ or ‘tip’!

*Er ist der Geheimtipp dieses Abends = he’s one to watch this evening

 Kannst du mir einige Geheimtipps geben? = can you give me the low-down on...?

 (Kärntens) Geheimtipp im Winter = the place to be in Carinthia this winter

 Estland ist ein Geheimtipp für alle, die gern pittoreske Städte besuchen = Estonia is the destination for anyone who loves picturesque towns

 Hameln ist unbedingt ein Geheimtipp = Hamelin is a must on any visitor’s itinerary

 Goldschmiede Klagenfurt – ein ganz besonderer Geheimtipp = .... definitely worth a visit

 Ein echter Geheimtipp ist Sölden übrigens für Anhänger des nordischen Wintersports = Sölden is also a great place for/is much sought-after by fans of...



Sunday, 14 September 2014

Today, some thoughts on how to translate ‘besticht’!

Although the primary meaning of bestechen is to bribe or corrupt, the verb is often used - like its counterpart überzeugt - to describe how appealing, captivating or just generally impressive a place or thing is. A direct translation (something along the lines of ‘impresses through’) is clearly no good, so a workaround is generally necessary. The following is a brief selection of besticht phrases which have come up in my work recently… and the translation I went for at the time. Feel free to add your own examples!

a)      … besticht der Landhaushof durch seinen Arkadengang

= a particularly attractive feature of the Landhaushof is its galleried courtyard

b)       das Hotel besticht durch die optimale Lage für Ausflüge

= the hotel provides an ideal base for excursions

c)      ... besticht durch seine Lage im mittleren Saaletal

= occupies an attractive location in the middle reaches of the Saale valley.

d)      der Saal im Volkshaus besticht durch eine ausgezeichnete Akustik

= the elegant Great Hall of the Volkshaus’ is known for its excellent acoustics

e)       die Nibelungenstadt Worms besticht mit ihrem reichen Kulturerbe aus über 2000 Jahren Geschichte.

= famed as the “City of the Nibelungs”, Worms boasts a rich cultural heritage stretching back over 2,000 years.

f)       die Planzenwelt im Norden der Insel besticht durch üppige Fülle.

= the north of the island boasts an abundance of lush vegetation

… and three more (from non-tourism texts!)

g)      der neue Toyota TF107 besticht hauptsächlich durch ein neues Aufhängungskonzept

= a particular impressive feature of the new Toyota TF107 is its new suspension system

h)      ... besticht hauptsächlich durch den Preis

= above all else, the… offers fantastic value for money

i)        das Modell besticht durch ein gradlinig und elegantes Design

        = its elegant, streamlined design makes this an extremely attractive model.


*Coming next month: what to do with that perennial favourite – ‘der Geheimtipp’!!!

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!






Friday, 8 August 2014

Today, some thoughts on translating ‘Genuss’

Genuss is a favourite of tourism copy-writers and those of us called upon to translate this material are used to texts littered with phrases like in den Genuss kommen (to enjoy), Genuss versprechen (to be a treat), laden Sie zum Genuss ein (will tempt you ….) In fact, Genuss seems to have myriad uses and can be combined in all sorts of ways. In terms of meaning, a fellow translator’s description does well here: Genuss is used to describe things that “either taste good or make you feel good”!
So, some ideas on translating it! In cases where the context clearly relates to food (often signalled by the addition of the kulinarisch or lecker!), finding a suitable translation is usually straightforward: ‘fine cuisine/delicious food/pure dining pleasure’ all work well. I usually translate Genuss-Menü with ‘gourmet menu’, while something like ‘for smaller appetites’ is a good stand-by for the menu heading für den kleinen Genuss. Genuss-Hauptstadt is another formulation I come across frequently – there seem to rather a lot of towns and cities claiming to be the ‘culinary capital’ of Germany/Austria! Another (new) concept I came across recently is the delightfully-named Genuss-Bus. I felt that ‘gourmet bus’ was probably insufficient as a translation (has the idea even hit these shores yet, I wonder?), so ended up with quite a lengthy gloss - something along the lines of: “a unique culinary experience is now available - a vintage bus tour with a difference! Fans of gourmet cuisine can hop on board and be wined and dined….”. By the way, if you are ever in Remscheid, it looks fun!

There are also many Genuss phrases where the consumption of food is combined with some other activity. Words like Genusswanderung and Genussradler are favourites of mine. But beware! It’s maybe not always safe to translate these as ‘hiking/cycling with stops along the way for food’. There is always the chance that the Genuss prefix is just there to indicate that your hiking/cycling experience is to be a ‘leisurely’ one (i.e. not tough or challenging).

Away from its main ‘foodie’ meaning, Genuss can also, of course, relate to other spheres of human experience! Last week, translating content for a ski brochure I met Genuss-Carver (the best translation I could offer on the day being the rather limp ‘fans of carving’), while Flug-Genuss later in the same text allowed for something slightly more imaginative (‘the thrill of flying’). In my translations for a regular car hire company travel blog, I frequently meet Naturgenuss. I normally translate it with a phrase like ‘stunning countryside/nature at its best’ etc…), depending on the exact context. Hotels often boast that they can offer their guests Schlafgenuss – can anybody think of anything better than just the ‘good night’s sleep’ I usually plump for?

Had enough of our friend Genuss yet? If not, here’s your challenge of the week! How would you translate Genusshotel and Genusskultur, both of which appear in this hotel description I came across this morning?

Answers on a postcard please!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Hi everyone and welcome to my first blog post!

Well, it was bound to rear its ugly head at some point, so I thought I’d start with the dreaded Wellness just so we can get it out the way and move on next week to more interesting discussions!
Wellness is a word much used in German tourism texts.  In fact, I have to deal with it most days. A quick scout through last month’s jobs revealed all manner of permutations: Wellness-Bereich, Wellness-Anlage, Wellness-Einrichtungen, Wellness –Behandlungen, Wellness-Tempel (!), Wellness-Oase and, of course, the ubiquitous Wellness-Angebot. Now, whether we like it or not, the word is also gaining currency in English. Though there does seem to be some confusion about its usage – it is now quite common to see the words spa and wellness combined, to make a (surely tautological?) ‘wellness spa’!

But what exactly is ‘wellness’ anyway? Is it not what we used to call a spa? Are the two words not in fact interchangeable? Some argue that wellness is a broader concept, incorporating any experience which helps you achieve a “healthy balance of mind, body and spirit”. But isn’t that exactly what a spa is – not just a source of mineral-rich spring water (imbibed originally, of course, as a cure for iron-deficiency), but these days a luxury, feel-good experience, involving (if you are a proper pamper-puss!) exotic wraps, massages, healthy food and exercise etc?

Maybe the trouble with the word ‘spa’ (some might say) is that it feels old-fashioned, more in keeping with images of the grand spas of 19th century Europe than trendy 21st century boutique establishments. To me, however, spa will always be preferable in a translation to wellness. It just sounds better. I can’t explain why a ‘spa day’ sounds infinitely more inviting than a ‘wellness day’.  Wellness is just so, well… clunky and un-English-sounding! But maybe we just have to move with the times and embrace this new coinage. Or maybe we should refuse to throw in the towel (no pun intended!) and stick to what some of think is a more acceptable translation?
What to do? To be perfectly honest, a lot of the time I just look at pictures of the hotel in question, get a feel for what sort of clientele would stay there and what kind of image they seem to want to convey and (client willing) just go with what I think sounds best! In fact, late at night, I’m just as likely to go for “spa offering a range of wellness treatments” as “wellness suite offering a range of spa treatments” and no-one’s ever complained that I went for the ‘wrong’ option!

Now of course, as if life wasn’t complicated enough, we have a (relatively) new kid on the block – the just plain daft Quellness*. Is it just me or does this word make anyone else feel seasick? If you can stomach it, check out the excruciatingly named ‘World of Quellness’ ( – call me old-fashioned, but it looks like a spa to me!

*For any non- German speakers reading this, it’s a play on the word Quelle, meaning ‘spring’.





Monday, 21 July 2014

Coming 1st AUGUST 2014 .... a regular blog on the joys and perils of translating travel and tourism material from German to English. My aim: to provide a useful, practical resource for other busy translators who work in this field and also perhaps share a few laughs along the way about those niggling little words and phrases that we encounter on a daily basis. So, if you never tire of discussing how (or whether?) to translate Wellness (or even Quellness!!), have to stop and think what you are going to do with the dreaded Erlebnis- prefix or just need some inspiration on how to explain what a Genusswanderung is for an English readership, you may find my blog of interest. Feel free to comment/add your pearls of wisdom - it'll be fun!