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I'm writing a book, and I made a rule for myself, to name every chapter in German (not that I knew German really well). So trying to name a chapter, I've found that in German there are several words, meaning homeland, motherland and so on. I'd like to know which of them is most close for country, where a country of origin, but not "motherland" in spiritual meaning of this word.

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

I support Ingmar's suggestion. Here's a list which I tried to order from - let's say - non-neutral to neutral.

  1. Vaterland: may sound a bit lofty and/or patriotic

  2. Heimatland: This also is usually considered the country of origin. Someone may, however, adopt a country as Heimatland where he's not born in, because he now considers it his (new) Heimat. Also Heimat alone is a wide term and can be used to denote the native land. There is e. g. an entire genre of movies named Heimatfilm.

  3. Ursprungsland: This is literally country of origin.

  4. Herkunftsland: Probably a bit more sober than Ursprung. Ursprung can have something profound in it.

  5. Geburtsland: Well, it's the country you've been born in. It may have slightly technical connotation.

The latter three hardly have a particular connotation.

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Thanks a lot. That's what I needed. – Alissa Jun 9 '14 at 21:18
Well, in fact Vaterland even sounds etymologically patriotic, doesn't it? ;-) – Christian Rau Jun 10 '14 at 0:12
Note that in 2. through 4. and maybe 5. one may substitute land by staat or other municipalities such as stadt and ort. Urpsrung is usually confined to a geographical and unmediated meaning, whereas Herkunft may relate more to ancestry. In certain contexts, but not here, Nation may also work. – Crissov Jun 12 '14 at 12:02

The most common choice is probably Vaterland although Heimatland might work as well.

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Thanks, but that's what can easily be found in any dictionary. But as I said, I need the word which means "land of origin", and not "land I live and love". The question is more about right choice than translation itself. – Alissa Jun 9 '14 at 19:16
I am afraid I really can't give you a different answer. By default, use Vaterland. You don't have to love it or identify much with it, it's still your fatherland. – Ingmar Jun 9 '14 at 20:52

The terms of Ingmar are correct.

Alternatives: land of origin you can use Heimat. See the translations to some languages in the link.

You also can use Mutterland, which bears a colonial connotation or means also land of origin as explained in this example:

Das Mutterland des Taekwondo ist Korea

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