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: http://www.platinnetz.de/frage/wandern-vs-spazierengehen-4763343 
...or for a lengthier definition take a look at: http://www.top-trails-of-germany.de/de/wanderlexikon/wandern.html
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 “Th├╝ringer St├Ądtekette”, 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: http://www.lofer.com/sommerurlaub/aktivurlaub/wandergolf

·        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!)