I am working on a translation of a scientific paper from German into English. I am hoping someone here can provide some help or feedback on a certain translation problem I’m encountering. A section of the paper describes, in very truncated language, 22 different locations that are being studied. Each one of these descriptions begins with Wechsel. Here is a typical example:

Ehemaliges Geleiseareal, Geleise entfernt. Wechsel von offenen Geleiseschottern mit Vege-
tationsflächen unterschiedlicher Wuchsdichte in den ehemaligen Bereichen zwischen den Gelei-
sen. Ähnlich wie Standort 1 und 7.

I understand Wechsel to mean change, shift, alteration, etc. It implies exchange or change of state. However, Wechsel is used in the exact same manner in each of the 22 different descriptions, and in most of them there is only one condition, that is, no change of state is being implied.

If anyone can offer any suggestions as to how Wechsel is being used here, I’d greatly appreciate it.


2 Answers 2


Wechsel von offenen Geleiseschottern mit Vegetationsflächen unterschiedlicher Wuchsdichte in den ehemaligen Bereichen zwischen den Geleisen.

I bolded the two relevant words. Wechsel does indeed also mean change and shift, but it is alternation that is meant here. The terrain alternates between remaining ballast areas and vegetation of different densities.

Note that the spelling is rather outdated; today’s German would use Gleis instead of Geleis and Gleisschotter etc.


First of all - it is 'der Wechsel' oder 'das Wechseln'

The implied change of state could mean from

  • Ehemaliges Geleiseareal, Geleise entfernt.

  • ...in den ehemaligen Bereichen zwischen den Geleisen.

to the current state that you can see now ->

but is rather 'ein Wechsel von'

  • offenen Geleiseschottern


  • Vegetationsflächen unterschiedlicher Wuchsdichte

This meaning 'abwechselnd' the one and the other!

  • I still feel that this answer meanders around a rather simple point that could be made extremely well …
    – Jan
    Sep 20, 2015 at 23:49
  • 1
    First of all, you should not thematize spelling spelling mistakes, but edit the question accordingly. Thematizing them raises the barrier for later corrections of such things, which have not been the scope of the question. Sep 21, 2015 at 0:23
  • Thanks. That's helpful. I did't include the direct article in my question since the paper never uses the article. I did indeed notice some idiosyncratic spelling (as well as vocabulary) in this paper, and that is adding to the challenge. The paper is only from 2006, so I'm not sure if the spelling/vocab is outdated or just particular to the author's region. Anyhow, thanks. Sep 21, 2015 at 5:30
  • 1
    Das Geleise instead of das Gleis sounds seriously antiquated to Germans, but according to Duden and my experience is still in use in Swiss German and Austrian German.
    – user2183
    Sep 21, 2015 at 6:41
  • 1
    I don't doubt it. This is the first time I've seen Das Geleise. Nonetheless it is used exclusively in this paper, which is less than 10 years old, and deals with green roofs in Basel. It's most likely Swiss usage. Sep 21, 2015 at 6:49

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