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!