Fremdenverkehr

Fremdenverkehr ("strangers' traffic): That’s the formal German word for tourism and I don’t think it sounds very inviting

literally “strangers’ traffic” / meaning: tourism

If there was just one German word that should be stripped from all dictionaries sooner rather than later: Fremdenverkehr would be a good choice.

It caters to the worst of clichés about Germans being somewhat reserved and unsociable—or even xenophobic, to say it blatantly. There could be no worse choice than to use the word Fremder (“stranger”) when you refer to someone who visits your country. Moreover, Verkehr (“traffic”) implies that tourists should enter the country just to leave it as quickly as possible—it just does not sound very hospitable.

In defense of the German language, the word has next to no relevance in everyday language. Germans will most likely say Tourismus or Tourist. However, it is still frequently used by official tourism boards, which themselves are referred to as Fremdenverkehrsämter (“offices for strangers’ traffic”). They urgently need a linguistic makeover!

 

 

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