'sowie' – a tricky German word

The German term sowie has three main meanings: 'and', 'as well as' and 'as soon as'. German speakers frequently use sowie as a synonym for und when stringing together items within in-sentence lists.

Translation pitfalls

Within a German list of items of equal importance, sowie serves merely as another way of saying 'and'. The blind use of 'as well as' as a translation for sowie is inappropriate in such cases. This is because 'as well as' carries the connotation of 'in addition to'. In sentence 6 below, for example, the company is not offering to assist with the bookings in addition to helping the customer plan his or her activities. If anything, it's the other way around; in addition to assisting with the bookings, the company will also help the customer to plan his or her activities.

Sample sentences

Here are some German sentence examples:

  1. Dazu gehört der Auf- sowie Abbau von Messeständen.
  2. Das Unternehmen besitzt zwei Bürogebäude sowie ein Lagerhaus.
  3. Die Mensa bietet mehrere Menus, sowie Buffetbetrieb und einen Cateringservice.
  4. Nicht versichert sind Schäden an den betreffenden Waren selbst sowie deren Verlust.
  5. Die Betroffenen klagen über Begleitsymptome wie Appetitlosigkeit und Übelkeit sowie eine erhöhte Empfindlichkeit gegenüber Licht.
  6. Wir unterstützen Sie gerne bei der Reise- und Hotelbuchung sowie der Planung Ihres Rahmenprogramms.
  7. Wir bieten Ihnen Risiko- und Portfolioanalysen sowie Unterstützung bei der Einführung von Risikomanagement-Systemen.

Sample translations

The following are some possible translations of the above examples:

  1. This includes the assembly and dismantling of stands at trade fairs.
  2. The company owns two office buildings, plus a warehouse.
  3. The canteen offers several menus, a buffet and a catering service.
  4. Coverage excludes damage or loss of the affected articles themselves.
  5. People affected suffer from side effects, such as nausea, loss of appetite and an increased sensitivity towards light.
  6. As well as assisting you with your trip and hotel bookings, we will also help you to plan your activities.
  7. We offer you risk and portfolio analyses and will also help you to introduce risk management systems.

Translation strategies

Consider using the following translation strategies: