Untranslatable Words #6: Sturmfrei

Hello peeps! @ailindigo here :)

For this 6th week of Untranslatable Words (wow) one more time we're moving to the very heart of Europe: Germany! The home of a very interesting language, the one I chose to study in my last years in college. Despite the learning experience was kind of traumatic I still love this language.

This week's word is the german: Sturmfrei

Gif by Wordstuck


One thing I found pretty useful while learning German is that the writing is very similar to English, so I think it might be easy to know the literal translation of this word, as well as many other german words. The first time I saw this word and what it refers to I just thought it made sense, as someone who enjoys solitude and deals with social anxiety I agree that people can feel like a storm most of the times sometimes.

Sturmfrei literally means "storm free" and refers to the freedom of not being watched by a parent or a superior; being alone at a place and having the ability to do what you want. *

The word is an adjective and something that can be had, it's a colloquial term that usually alludes to the typical context where a teenager is left alone in their house because parents have to go out for the weekend, these parents gave the kid sturmfrei.

The origin of this idea isn't very clear but it seems the term was used in the military and described a place or position that was impregnable, so the relation between this and having an empty house is that there isn't this authority figure that impedes you doing what you want. *

Now, Germany and its language have always had this image of being very serious, tough, perfectionist, squarish, clever, impregnable, difficult... a little bit of the vibes a militar man would give you I would say, and if we check through their history I think there's reasons to it. So, it somehow makes sense that kids see their parents with these traits and that the term had appeared.

Illustration by ZandraArt

I never saw my family as a storm even though that's how they felt when there was a fight at home, but I won't say I didn't feel kind of a passed-storm relief everytime I was left alone. Though what really felt like there was a storm at home was when there were visitors, usually in Christmas.

During Christmas I didn't feel at peace in my house, that was the worst month to have Social Anxiety. Nowadays, I still struggle with it even though it's not that huge anymore. I'm a person who is used to living alone but in the last two years I've been sharing home with 3 people because of life circumstances, so I experienced what is to have roommates for the first time.

It's been an interesting experience that makes me appreciate even more my solitude lol everytime I'm left alone in the department –which has become kind of a rare event due to the quarantine– it's one of my most blissful moments, like those moments after the rain is gone: the sun is shinning again and you can finally go out again to play in the yard. So, in my case I can't help but associate storms to people through this word.

What do you think? Do you think people can feel like storms? Did you like having Sturmfrei as a kid? Still like it or did it changed? Please tell me what you think in the comments!

Thank you very much for passing by! :)

Previous Untranslatable Words:

#1: Torschlusspanik
#2: Mono no aware
#3: Rasāsvāda
#4: Cavoli riscaldati
#5: Nefelibata

This content is part of a new series to get more people interested on languages and how they, perception and culture are related!

Exclusively for the Hive Cross Culture Community, the community for language exchange or cross-cultural purposes.

If you'd like to be part of the discussion don't hesitate to hop into the Hive Language and Culture Exchange Discord server! As well as subscribing to the Hive Cross Culture Community so you don't miss any new word comming ;) We'll be sharing a new Untranslatable Word each week!

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