Untranslatable German Words: Klangwunder Posted by Sten on Jul 28, 2017 in Language
In the series of untranslatable German words, we tackle those words that just don’t have a direct English translation that makes sense. This week, we have a wonderful word, that encapsulates a lot: Klangwunder.
What is a Klangwunder?
A Klangwunder is a place or device that has miraculous acoustics. It puts you in awe and wonder how such good Klang (sound) can be achieved. Not only places, such as the recently opened Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, but also devices with really good sound are called Klangwunder. As you can imagine, a lot of advertisements for audio devices use the term!
What does Klangwunder mean?
Klang means “sound”, and Wunder means “miracle”, so literally, it is a “sound miracle”. But that sounds quite off in English, I think. You could perhaps be more descriptive to achieve the same kind of meaning.
An English Alternative
An often seen English translation is “sound sensation”, or it is used as adjective: “with sensational sound”. I would still prefer using “miracle” or “wondrous sound”, because that is part of the meaning. It is the wonder, the miracle of the device or the space that makes it a Klangwunder.
I think it is important for the word to fully make sense to use descriptive words. So let’s see some!
wundervoll – wonderful
unbeschreiblich – indescribable
ansprechend – appealing
die Akustik – acoustics
die Dämpfung – damping
der Klang – sound
die Tonhöhen – tone pitches
die Höhen – treble
die Tiefen – bass
ausgeprägt – distinct, pronounced
gedämpft – dampened, muffled
klar – clear, crisp
satt – rich
So something you could say is:
Der Raum ist ein Klangwunder! Die Tiefen sind satt und die Höhen sehr klar. Persönlich finde ich die ausgeprägten Höhen besonders ansprechend. (The room is a sound sensation! The bass is rich and the treble is very clear. Personally, I find the pronounced treble very appealing.)
How would you describe a Klangwunder in English or in your own language? Do you have a word in your language that describes the same thing? Let me know in the comments below!
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