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Volcanic ash everywhere!

vulkanIf I was to choose a word I’ve heard most in the recent day it would definitely be volcanic ash

I’m just wondering if it should be the word of the day, week (the volcano cloud crisis is in its 5th day already), or month??

Glad that I haven’t planned any air travel for the nearest past and future, I can sit back in my chair, read news and concentrate on the linguistic side of the phenomenon.

Here’s my volcanic dust English-German glossary:

(volcanic) ash cloud – Aschewolke (f)
volcanic ash – Vulkanasche (f)
volcanic ash particles – Vulkanaschepartikel (pl)
volcanic dust – Vulkanstaub (m)
flight ban – Flugverbot (n)
airspace – Luftraum (m)
air traffic – Flugverkehr (m)
airspace closure – Sperrung des Luftraums
stranded passengers – gestrandete Passagiere
stopover – Zwischenlandung (f)

Moreover, I noticed that while the Brits seem to be very creative when it comes to naming the reason of the crisis itself – apart from ash cloud and volcanic ash, they refer to it as volcano cloud, volcano ash cloud, enormous shroud of fine mineral dust particles etc. – whereas the Germans prefer to focus on the consequences. The cause is almost always called Aschewolke, but what it caused was referred to as Asche-Chaos, Reise-Chaos, Verkehrschaos, die massiven Reiseprobleme, Chaos im Luftverkehr etc. in just two short articles. The Germans just love their chaos! Who would have thought… The Brits remain calm and reserved and stick to the neutral disruptions to air traffic.

Among all this fascinating vocabulary I encountered one word for which I couldn’t find a good, short, one-to-one translation: Rückholflug. A beautiful example of a magnificent German compound! You kinda know what it means but how the hell should we translate it into English? And here’s the task for you – maybe you can help me translate the word in a nice way? Write your suggestion in comments below! Thanks!


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  1. Anything wrong with plain “return flight”? Am I missing some connotation in the German word?

    Posted by Jeremy | April 19, 2010, 5:41 pm
  2. What about evacuation flight?

    Posted by Naomi | April 20, 2010, 10:55 pm


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