Thursday, 29 October 2015

Translating ‘Stube’ into English

An antiquated word for ‘room’, and apparently still used to describe the separate accommodation areas within an army barracks, most dictionaries will offer ‘parlour’ as an English translation of this word. Originally, a Stube, gute Stube or Wohnstube would have been the only heated room in a German house and therefore the place where family would come together in the evenings and where any entertaining would go on. Interestingly, the word derives from the Old High German stuba (meaning heated room) and is related to our English word ‘stove’.

Perhaps already familiar to tourists from the words Imbissstube (snack bar) or Weinstube (wine bar), these days the word Stube on its own (also encountered as Gaststube or in dialect varieties such as Stubn, Stub’n and Stübl) usually describes a place where people can eat in a convivial ambience, often characterised by traditional décor – think wood panelling and gingham tablecloths! Certainly any trip to Bavaria wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the local Schmankerl Stube or Alpenglow Stube for some traditional (and, inevitably these days) not so traditional fare. In fact, nowadays an ‘authentic’ Stübl dining experience can be had pretty much anywhere – like this one in Zambia:!!

Wherever in the world your particular Stube happens to be, essential ingredients have to be its warm, friendly atmosphere (what else but Gemütlichkeit?) and, for maximum authenticity, a traditional tiled stove in the corner. This eatery in southern Germany sounds as if it fits the bill perfectly:

Fränkische Gaststuben haben etwas Besonderes. Sie werden es sofort spüren, wenn Sie Platz nehmen - vielleicht am Kachelofen oder in der gemütlichen Englerth-Stube. Die Hektik des Alltags ist hier schnell vergessen. Und während unsere Köche Ihr Menü zaubern, haben Sie Zeit die Atmosphäre zu genießen.“

> (My translation) “There is something very special about the homely, welcoming ambience of a traditional Franconian restaurant. Whether it’s the warmth of the tiled stove or the convivial atmosphere of our cosy Englerth-Stube that attracts you, we think you will find the Gasthof Bären the perfect place to relax and forget the cares of the day.”

While ‘restaurant’ (or, for more of a local flavour, "a traditional Stube restaurant"!) is often an appropriate translation, sometimes ‘dining-room’ also works. One large establishment in the Allgäu whose website I translated recently had no fewer than four different Stuben in which to tickle the palates of their high-end guests!

Finally, just to confuse poor benighted tourists (and translators!) further, Stube is also commonly used to describe apartments, particularly those in a rural setting… like this one, for example:






Thursday, 20 August 2015

Translating ‘Alm-’ into English

The word Alm (or Alp in Swiss German) means “seasonal mountain pasture", i.e. alpine pasture that is only grazed during the summer months – a period known as Almsommer. This lasts around 100 days and the end of this period, falling around mid-September, is traditionally marked by a colourful celebration called an Almabtrieb in which local herdsmen drive their cows back down into the valley for the winter. As fine an example of rural pageantry as you are ever likely to see, this annual festival provides a wonderful excuse for the inhabitants of towns and villages throughout the alpine region to let their collective hair down. Attractions often include a craft fair, farmer's market and, of course, ample food and drink. And, as you might expect, da wird’s almerisch g’sungen und g’spielt in a veritable feast of alpine music and song! For anyone who has never experienced an Almabtrieb at first hand, take a look at this one in Pertisau, Tyrol: (Note: if you are a sucker for all things alpine, and the sight of cows festooned with garlands and bells makes you feel all warm inside… well, you’ve got about three weeks to get your trip organised!)

So, how best to translate ‘Almabtrieb’? Though the concept of seasonal grazing does exist in English (it’s known as ‘transhumance’, apparently!), a gloss will always ensure clarity. Something along the lines of: “the annual late-summer ‘Almabtrieb’ festival in which cattle are brought back down into the valley from the lush alpine pastures”, should do the trick!

And now to deal with Alm

·         where the word is used in its primary sense, ‘pastures’ is the best rendering, e.g. über Almen wandern = to hike across lush mountain pastures.

·         in phrases where Alm- is used as a prefix, ‘alpine’ is generally a safe bet, e.g. Alm-Kultur’ (alpine culture), im alten Tiroler Almstil = in traditional Tyrolean/alpine style.

·         most commonly, however, Alm is used by extension to mean Almhütte. Originally a simple, rustic herdsman’s hut in the mountains - the dictionary defines it as a ‘Wohn- Schlaf- und Arbeitsstätte’ mit offener Feuerstelle, only accessible on foot and with very limited facilities - these days it is more likely to have a variety of home comforts, including an Alm-Sauna, a programme of guided Alm-Marschen for all abilities, a traditional Almfrühstück and a varied dinner menu which is likely to include include a hearty Almochsenbraten (roast ox). If you can afford it, you could even go the whole hog and treat yourself to a spot of Almwellness at this 4-star establishment:

*Anyway, time to go. Can’t resist finishing up with a traditional alpine valediction: “ein kräftiges Alm Heil und Gottes Segen für die kommenden Almsommer!” Any ideas for a neat translation of that into English?! L  Answers on a postcard…


Thursday, 11 June 2015

How to translate ‘-möglichkeiten’

The word ‘Möglichkeiten’ translates literally as ‘possibilities’ or ‘opportunities’. Sometimes ‘options’ also works quite well, as here:

Ferienwohnungen, Ferienhäuser und Gästezimmer - der Ferienhof bietet mit seinen vielseitigen Möglichkeiten attraktive, individuelle Angebote für jedes Budget = the Ferienhof’s diverse range of accommodation options means that there is a unique and attractive package to suit every budget

Möglichkeiten is also commonly used to form compound nouns and tourism texts are awash with the many possible permutations: Bademöglichkeiten, Parkmöglichkeiten, Einkaufsmöglichkeiten (or, more likely these days, Shoppingmöglichkeiten)… to name just a few.


So, how best to translate these into natural-sounding English? Sometimes the most succinct rendering is the best – in the following examples, one word is all that is needed:

wir bieten überdachte und geschützte Parkmöglichkeiten direkt vor dem Haus = we have secure covered parking right outside the hotel

Bademöglichkeiten in den nahe gelegenen Freibädern und im Ritzensee = swimming in local open-air pools and in Lake Ritzensee

in unmittelbarer Nähe finden Sie Einkaufsmöglichkeiten, Cafés und Gastronomie für jeden Anspruch  = just a stone’s throw away you will find shops, cafés and restaurants to suit all tastes

für Adrenalinfreaks gibt es unzählige Sportmöglichkeiten wie Quad-Fahren, Canyoning, Rafting, Klettern und Mountainbiking = adrenalin junkies will find plenty to satisfy their cravings, with a whole range of exciting sports to enjoy, including quad-biking, canyoning, rafting etc.

in einer ruhigen Seitenstraße und doch  nur Schritte von vielen Geschäften, Restaurants und Ausgehmöglichkeiten entfernt = in a quiet side street and yet within easy reach of shops, restaurants and nightlife. 


Much of the time, however, a phrase (rather than just a single word) is required:

bietet unzählige Freizeitmöglichkeiten in der Umgebung = a wide range of leisure activities in the local area

in und um Kempten gibt es eine Vielzahl von Radfahrmöglichkeiten = the area in and around Kempten has much to offer keen cyclists

das Allgäu bietet eine endlose Anzahl von erlebnisreichen Wandermöglichkeiten = the Allgäu region offers an almost endless choice of exciting hiking trails

das herrliche Salzburger Land begeistert auch im Winter Groß und Klein mit seiner faszinierenden Natur und den tollen Möglichkeiten einer Stadt = Young and old will love both the region’s stunning countryside and the amazing variety that the city of Salzburg has to offer

Schwimmen, Angeln, Surfen – am Wilderness Beach haben Sie viele Outdoor-Möglichkeiten! = Swimming, fishing, surfing – on Wilderness Beach opportunities to enjoy the Great Outdoors are endless!

5 bis 7 gängiges Abendmenü mit verschiedenen Wahlmöglichkeiten = 5 or 7-course evening menu with a choice of options

 Leihmöglichkeiten: in allen Sportgeschäften = equipment hire: available in all sports shops



*Off now to seek out a ‘Schlafmöglichkeit’ – it’s been a long day!!















Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Translating ‘klein aber fein’ into English

Like Tom Cruise, my post today is what you might call small but perfectly formed! I often come across the phrase ‘klein aber fein’ as a description for hotels who, conscious of having only a small number of rooms or a limited range of facilities, nevertheless want to emphasise the quality of their offering. Though nicely alliterative in German (hence its popularity), it needs a bit of thought in English. There have been occasions when “small is beautiful” has been usable, but it’s not appropriate for all contexts. Below are some other ‘solutions’ from recent tourism translations…

·         kleines, feines Skigebiet = modest in size but still elegant, Morzine stands at the gateway to one of the world’s largest inter-connected skiing areas

·         kleines aber feines Familiengebiet lädt ein zum Wandern, Mountainbiken usw. = a small but delightful area for families – perfect for hikes, mountainbiking or just a gentle stroll!

·         klein aber fein -  auch für anspruchsvolle Skifahrer, Gruppen oder Vereine = small but charming – an ideal area for experienced skiers, groups or clubs

·         und genau das ist bei den kleinen, feinen Hotels der Vereinigung [...] der Fall = and sums up the philosophy behind every small but select hotel which bears the […] logo.

·         die Sauna-Anlage, klein und fein, lädt zum Entspannen und Relaxen (!) ein = our small but well-equipped sauna facility offers the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind.

·         kleinen aber feinen Wellnessbereich = small but luxurious spa suite

·         unter dem Motto “klein, fein, individuell” führen wir unser Haus mit 28 Betten = in line with our motto “small, comfortable, individual” our hotel has just 28 beds but prides itself on a long tradition of hospitality


That’s it for today. Off now for a ‘kleines, aber feines Mittagessen’ - a humble cheese sandwich... maybe with a fancy garnish… J

Monday, 9 March 2015

Translating ‘Schmankerl’ into English

Of all the ‘culinary’ words I come across when translating hotel and restaurant websites, Schmankerl is definitely one of the most common. Though it is known to be Bavarian in origin, the exact derivation of the word is unclear. For more information word nerds may like to take a look at Schmankerl’s very own Wikipedia page:

Unlike its close friends Leckerbissen and Gaumenkitzel, Schmankerl is also used in non-food related contexts to mean ‘something special’, ‘a bonus’  or ‘freebie’, a ‘treat’, ‘the icing on the cake’. An example of this usage is this from Linguee: “als besonderes Schmankerl gibt es gratis dazu einen Gutschein”.

In texts about food (most commonly in Bavaria and Austria, but also spotted on the website of a Vietnamese restaurant!), Schmankerl can usually be translated with something like ‘tasty delicacies’, ‘culinary treats’ or (especially if preceded by heimisch or einheimisch) ’local specialities’. Weirdly, ‘titbits’ (or in American English, apparently, ‘tidbits’) always pops up as the first suggestion in online dictionaries – not sure where that would ever sound right!

It also appears as part of compound words such as Schmankerldorf, which came under discussion on ProZ a few years back. Suggested translations then included ‘refreshment area’ and (my preferred option) ‘food court’, a term now familiar to those of us who frequent the large out-of-town shopping centres that have sprung up everywhere in recent years. For the full discussion, go to:

And for fans of Bavarian food, what better than a convivial Schmankerltour around Munich? Check out the website:


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

My ‘feel-good’ guide to translating Wohlfühl-   

The prefix Wohlfühl-  is, not surprisingly, much used in marketing texts to convey an object or an experience which will somehow enhance our existence, warm our cockles, make us feel good, happy, generally well. Occasionally ‘feel-goodworks as a translation, as with (of course) Wohlfühl-Faktor, Wohlfühl-Botenstoffe (those ‘happy-making’ neurotransmitter thingies activated by sniffing lavender, scoffing chocolate etc.) and, if you like that sort of thing, Wohlfühl-Songs - presumably anything by Chris de Burgh! Actually, these days you are just as likely to come across the English version in a German sentence as its native counterpart. For countless examples of ‘Feelgood’ products - everything from surfboards, and hair mousse to (weirdly) drinks beakers - take a look at this site:

So it seems that adding Wohlfühl- to any random product will convince us that we are investing in something out of the ordinary, something bound to get those serotonin levels climbing. I spent a fun ten minutes surfing the web for items promising to bring me a level of comfort and joy I’d hitherto not experienced! The first page revealed a Wohlfühl-Decke for the bed (presumably not prison-grade wool but something altogether more soft and snuggly!), and any number of now heavily discounted Wohlfühl-Sets (yes, we know it’s just bath crème, and body lotion done up in a fancy box… but it’s the pamper factor we’re being sold, right?). I even came across the delightful Wohlfühl-Schwitzen in a sauna advert. Presumably a translator faced with this would have to ditch any reference to sweat in favour of something rather more understated (something with ‘gently cleansing effect…’ maybe?)

So, how should we to translate the ubiquitous Wohlfühl- when we come across it in tourism texts? And it is everywhere, featuring in pretty much every hotel website I’ve ever translated, with a particularly lavish peppering on the Wellness page!! The answer of course is to have a healthy stash of ‘feel-good’ words up your sleeve: comfort, home from home, ambience, relaxation, happiness, well-being, pleasure, treat, pampering... the list goes on! Here are some examples taken from recent translations and how I dealt with them:

·         in unserem Hotelbereich legen wir größten Wert darauf, dass Sie sich wohlfühlen = We at the**** Hotel attach great importance to your comfort and well-being                                                                                                                                                             Or maybe: We want our guests to really enjoy their stay here at the *** Hotel….

·         wir sorgen für einen schönen "Wohlfühl"- Aufenthalt in Bad **** = We work hard to make your "wellness" break in Bad Salzuflen a pleasant and memorable experience.

·         dass sich unsere Gäste wohlfühlen, liegt uns am Herzen = We aim/work hard to provide everything our guests could need during their stay

·         eine angenehme Atmosphäre zum Wohlfühlen = a pleasant, relaxing ambience

·         Wohlfühl-Ambiente = a comfortable home from home

·         Wohlfühl-Komfort = superior comfort

·         eine komfortable 2-Zimmer Wohlfühl-Ferienwohnung = a pleasant 2-room apartment with all home comforts

·       Wohlfühl-Lounge = attractive, comfortable lounge (where presumably you can sit sipping your Wohlfühl-Drinks (yes, they exist! See: )

·         Wohlfühl-Wochenenden = relaxing/indulgent weekend breaks

·         Wohlfühl-Paket = pamper package

·         Wohlfühl-und Quellnessleistungen = (full range of) beauty, health and spa treatments

·         Wohlfühl-Oase = oasis of well-being (I know, it’s awful, but it’s what they wanted!!)

Anyway that’s enough for today. I’m off back to my Wohlfühlarbeitsplatz – you know the kind of thing… scatter cushions, low lighting. I jest, of course. I’d never get anything done that way! If you want to create one for yourself however, there’s help out there: