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I have a question as to how to appropriately express the word "provisions" in German. By provisions, I mean the following definition in English:

Provision: a measure taken beforehand to deal with a need or contingency.

Let me provide some example sentences:

  1. Many campus buildings are relatively old and weren't originally designed with provisions for handicapped students.

  2. We will make all of the necessary provisions for your transportation from the airport to the hotel.

In some sense, it seems that "Vorbereitungen" would be sufficient in the first sentence above, but not the second...Also, I see that the words "Vorkehrungen" and "Vorsorgen" are listen in most dictionaries. However, I cannot differentiate between "Vorkehrungen" and "Vorsorgen", and for me they seem synonymous. To add to the difficulty, it seems that they are both sometimes translated as "precautions", which has a completely different connotation because "precautions" means that there is some danger to be avoided, which is not the meaning that I'm looking for.

If somebody could tell what the best translation of "provisions" is in the context of the given examples, I would be very grateful. If you could also help me disentangle the difference between "Vorkehrungen" and "Vorsorgen", I would be even more grateful!

Thanks in advance!

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There is certainly not a single word you can use in all situations. Rather the solution depends on the use-case.

Here are sentences for your examples as you would typically find them in use in German speaking countries:

  • Many campus buildings are relatively old and weren't originally designed with provisions for handicapped students.

Viele Gebäude auf dem Uni-Gelände sind ziemlich alt. Sie sind darum ursprünglich nicht barrierefrei ausgeführt.

Viele Gebäude auf dem Campus sind ziemlich alt. Sie sind ursprünglich nicht für Benutzer mit körperlicher Behinderung eingerichtet.

Viele der Uni-Gebäude sind ziemlich alt. Sie waren ursprünglich nicht auf Benutzer mit körperlicher Behinderung ausgerichtet.

  • We will make all of the necessary provisions for your transportation from the airport to the hotel.

Wir sorgen für Ihren Transport vom Flughafen zum Hotel.

Um den Transport vom Flughafen zum Hotel brauchen Sie sich nicht zu kümmern. Das übernehmen wir.

As you see: each situation has its own "translation" of provision.

If you anyway need a word that can replace "provision" in quasi word-by-word translations, then Vorkehrungen would probably be a good fit that can help in many situations.

Viele Gebäude auf dem Uni-Gelände sind ziemlich alt. Es fehlen Ihnen darum die nötigen Vorkehrungen für Barrierefreiheit.

Wir treffen alle nötigen Vorkehrungne für Ihren Transport vom Flughafen zum Hotel.

These sentences are acceptable. But note that they are not what typically would be said in those situations. They somehow "smell" like translated from English.

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1. Vorsorge is frequently used in a financial or medical context: Altersvorsorge is everything you do to financially prepare for retirement, Vorsorgeuntersuchung is a preventive medical examination. There is a silly quip:

Wer nicht vorsorgt, hat das Nachsehen.
Those who do not make provisions will be left behind.

2. Vorkehrungen treffen is bureaucratic language. DWDS defines Vorkehrung as vorsorgliche Maßnahme, i.e. a measure that is taken preemptively. These facts point to it being more abstract than Vorsorge. Therefore, if you were to use one of the two words, Vorkehrungen would be more appropriate than Vorsorge.

3. I think it is inherent to the concept of planned preparation that things might go bad if you do not prepare; therefore, to take precautions does seem to be an acceptable translation for both Vorkehrungen/Vorsorge treffen. The notion of danger becomes more explicit when using Vorsichtsmaßnahmen or Sicherheitsvorkehrungen.

4. As far as your second sentence is concerned, a translation using Vorkehrungen works.

Wir werden alle nötigen Vorkehrungen treffen, um Sie vom Flughafen zum Hotel zu bringen.

As far as the first one is concerned, I feel that a translation using behindertengerecht would be natural.

Viele Universitätsgebäude sind nicht behindertengerecht.
(alternatively) … nicht für Menschen mit Behinderungen ausgelegt.

Having seen Christian's answer, I find my translation for your second sentence a bit too stilted. Companies tend to communicate more informally nowadays; therefore, wir kümmern uns um Ihren Transport or even wir bringen Sie vom Flughafen zum Hotel would not be out of place. As with every translation request, one quickly goes from trying to translate to trying to improve the original.

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