Word of the Week: Fahrvergnügen

Does starting your car’s engine put a smile on your face? Or is driving your car from A to B more of  a chore for you? Well, maybe you need a healthy dose of Fahrvergnügen. This quintessentially German word means the enjoyment or pleasure Germans derive from driving their cars. But don’t let that discourage you from trying to find Fahrvergnügen yourself – it’s not just for Germans; anyone can experience Fahrvergnügen!

But what exactly is Fahrvergnügen and how do you get it? The answer is an assertive “well, it depends”. For some, hurtling along the Autobahn at top speeds is all that is needed to make their trip worthwhile, while others love that feeling in your gut that can only be brought on by rapid acceleration. But not everyone is that simple-minded; for some, the physical comfort of their car might play a bigger role: plush seats, low levels of vibration and quietness when driving can all contribute to Fahrvergnügen. Yet for others, their car doesn’t really come into the picture at all – driving down a nice road during a sunny, Indian summer afternoon, through a forest that is just beginning to change colors is what makes their drive enjoyable.

This week’s Word of the Week itself is composed of fahren, meaning to drive and Vergnügen, which could roughly be translated as enjoyment or pleasure. It was popularized in the US by a series of Volkswagen commercials, but you don’t need a Volkswagen or even a meticulously engineered German car to have “Fahrvergnügen” – although it probably helps. Perhaps the word and its popularity is not so much a statement about German cars and more of a statement about German culture, where the car is not just a mode of transport, but an almost sacred part of everyday life.

If you would like to get some more impressions of  Fahrvergnügen, head over to our Travel section and check out our feature on the Autobahn.

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