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: