I am translating text from English to Bulgarian, but some of its original form had been written in German. Therefore, there are specific English words that do not translate properly. One such a word was world-weariness, which did not make perfect sense until I found Weltschmerz, in German. Now, I am looking up Pfadarbeit, which translates as Pathwork, in English, but I could not find a proper equivalent in Bulgarian. Pathwork Guide’s Lectures is the title, which I want to translate, so this is the context to my search.

  • Are you sure it's not just Pathwork? Why "Pfadarbeit"? See members.pathwork.org and garyvollbracht.com/what-is-pathwork Wenn ich es richtig verstehe, geht es um die "Arbeit am Pfad (zu) Gott".
    – choXer
    May 31, 2021 at 15:32
  • If the German term has been kept in an English text, it's a probably a fixed term in whatever belief system, denomination, cult, ... the text is about. I wouldn't expect there to be a "overarching" definition and/or translation. May 31, 2021 at 15:54
  • Weltschmerz is exceptional in that it has migrated into English. But German loves to cobble words together as long the meaning makes sense in the context, and most of these combinations don't even make it into German dictionaries much less English ones. I ran into Kerzenboot the other day; it's not in any dictionary so you just work out what the pieces mean and see if the whole makes sense in the situation at hand.
    – RDBury
    May 31, 2021 at 17:15
  • Pfadarbeit means whatever the author wants it to mean. I don't think you will find a universally accepted meaning for that word.
    – RalfFriedl
    May 31, 2021 at 21:46
  • 2
    Google turns up a lot of esoteric nonsense.
    – Carsten S
    Jun 1, 2021 at 10:15

4 Answers 4


"Pfadarbeit" isn't a word that can be found in German dictionaries. It's a neologism used in esoteric circles for various different concepts, often referring to forms of meditation or spritual journeys. You will probably have to find out what the specific author you're translating means by it.

If you're specifically talking about the "Pathwork lectures" by Eva Pierrakos, as far as I understand, these were written in English. If Pierrakos (who grew up in Austria) did use the German word herself in the 1950s, the word did not have a history or meaning at that point, she probably made up a new compound word for her purpose, which of course is a common way to name new concepts in German. Weltschmerz is a much older and established word, no comparison.


Pathwork (Pfadarbeit) is a lifelong spiritual path of self-discovery that helps us understand how life works, heal our emotional wounds, and promote harmony and balance in our own being as well as with others and God. /** https://de.theguidespeaks.com/mehr/Was-ist-Pfadarbeit%3F/#About-Doing-the-Work **/

  • Was soll die private Auszeichnung bedeuten? Jun 2, 2021 at 23:45
  • These are the lectures that I am trying to translate but cannot find Bulgarian word for Pathwork. Initially the lectures have been presented in German, maybe up to lecture #14 or something like this, then they were done in English for the American audience. Since I could not translate well Pathwork, I decided to check it in German and still cannot find the right equivalent. Feeling grateful to everyone, who took time to respond.
    – user48923
    Jun 3, 2021 at 18:46
  • @user48923: since you have read the lectures, you probably know much better than anyone here what they specifically mean by "Pfad/path" and what they mean by "Arbeit/work". We can talk about the words "Pfad" and "Arbeit" more if that might help, but the compound word did not have a fixed meaning when it was first used in the lectures.
    – HalvarF
    Jun 4, 2021 at 9:55
  • You are right HalvarF. It would be correct to say that I ‘know’ the meaning, but I find it hard to properly express it in one such a word, in Bulgarian. This is why was looking for another option that could possibly have a better way to translate. And yes, there is no fixed meaning, indeed. Currently, I used a word that literally translates to Travel guide, so I may just stick up to it. Thank you!
    – user48923
    Jun 4, 2021 at 22:34

The title is paradox, "Pfadarbeit" being something that inherently comes with its own guidance. You can't guide someone through the process of finding his or her own way.

That makes it ever so much harder to translate the meaning. Any translation that fails to incorporate the irony as well as the essence will miss the point.

I would translate "Pfadarbeit" with "Footwork" rather than "Pathwork". Its an obligatory task that generates a lot of tales to tell, all of them being interesting, but none of them making anyone any wiser when it comes to their own path.

  • Thank you, Berend. I like your idea about ‘footwork’ being quite an accurate term for moving on such a path. As for guiding someone to finding his or her way, it is possible, if this person does not look for ready made path, waiting to be walked on. In this case, man needs rather to makes his own path, the way I understand it.
    – user48923
    Jun 4, 2021 at 22:45
  • @user48923 It came up because Footwork has a ring of banality and endlessness to it that nevertheless is exactly what experience and growth emerge from. If one squints at Pathwork on the other hand, it looks almost like Patchwork, which is fun, but entirely misses the point.
    – user48613
    Jun 7, 2021 at 22:21

"spiritual journey study" seemed most appropriate.


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