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. http://www.alsterhaus.de/en/nc/the_alsterhaus/history/. 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, Sternek├╝che 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: www.edeltee.de) and… well, maybe just a few squares of finest Edelschokolade.