While English increases in popularity, there are words and phrases commonly found in various other languages that will never be directly translatable. We’re here to celebrate these beautiful, strange, and often elaborate expressions that hold importance to their respective cultures.
Many people around the world, young and old, well-traveled and not so well-traveled, have experienced the feeling of homesickness or longing for home. Germany, however, has its own word for the opposite of this feeling.
Fernweh can be literally translated to far-sickness, or, far-woe, and figuratively translated to a longing for a distant place you have never been.
If you open a German to English dictionary, chances are this word will likely be translated to wanderlust, another German word that is often used to refer to a similar feeling. However, if you speak to a German they will likely correct you in your translation. Wanderlust, they will tell you, literally translates to “a longing to go hiking” i.e. walking on foot and exploring nature. Experiencing the feeling of fernweh could be compared to the longing to travel to far-away places (i. e. to other countries, to experience other cultures), to get away from home and leave the world you know behind you.
Online travel company and magazine, Atlas Obscura, asked its readers which places gave them the feeling of fernweh, and editor Eric Grundhauser says the responses shared common themes of fantasy and childlike wonder. Due to its emotive nature, fernweh is an excellent term that is utilized heavily in clever travel marketing. With many people citing lush and evergreen travel destinations like Scotland or Iceland, as giving them a feeling of fernweh, travel companies have taken the term and run with it. Many businesses use it in campaigns or business names — tugging on the audience’s heartstrings and inciting an emotional response when being targeted by marketing.
Thinking of launching your own successful marketing campaign? With our team of expert translators, there are endless possibilities to get your most ‘untranslatable’ messages to a wider audience. Get in touch with our team to discuss how translations can help.