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: