I'm trying to translate appropriately the short bullet/header line "Der Aufbruch des Pilgers Ya-Nun" ("Ya-Nun" is a fictive person in a story of mine.)

Here I describe the moment, where a monk, who lived a long time in a conventional hermitage, one night got a completely new understanding, and felt, he has now "understood deeply", picks up all his things and started immediately as a wanderer, beginning a completely new course-of-life.

So I mean "Aufbruch" of course in the sense of the first step on a journey, which by LEO.org might be translated by something like "break up", "departure", "decampment" or so, but all proposals from LEO do not sound with the right association/meaning-field as ending and old life and beginning a new one.

How could this be expressed with my intended "semantic color"?

As an alternative I could think of something like when a flower starts blossoming, opens it blossom, or if a butterfly has finished his embryonal evolution opens its wings (airfoils???) and starts to fly.

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    Do you want a noun or are you happy with a paraphrase such as "Ya-Nun sets out on a new life"?
    – Shoe
    Sep 23, 2021 at 16:27
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    ah - good idea, @shoe. If no good noun is available, this is perhaps a good alternative. Your proposal sounds nice! Sep 23, 2021 at 16:31
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    My Klett dictionary only lists the noun "departure" as a translation, but exemplifies it with the phrase das Zeichen zum Aufbruch geben, which it translates with the verb: to give the signal to set out.
    – Shoe
    Sep 23, 2021 at 16:36
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    [beginning of a trip or journey, not "a travel"]. The advent of a new life.
    – Lambie
    Sep 23, 2021 at 16:44
  • @Shoe - the meaning of "departure" shall be a siginificant word-/thoughts play in the story. It's divided in two levels: the physical departure, (which looks like a "leaving us") and the "spiritual" level: he becomes -by his beginning of wandering - a true member of us: a monks-community which have the deep tradition of "wandering" : by beginning his wandering, he actually "comes home" (he "has arrived" in the sense of Thich Nhat Hanh) . So I'd like to have the leaving in the subtitle, but not in the sense of "departure", but for which we can use in german the word "Aufbruch" - little play.. Sep 23, 2021 at 17:26

8 Answers 8


"Ya-Nun's epiphany and awakening into the pilgrimage".

MW - epiphany:

(1): a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.

(2): an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.

(3): an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure.

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    "Yanun's awekening into pilgrimage" is OK. A huge problem in English is, if you add extra verbiage, it sounds profoundly crap. unfortunately the suggestion given in the first sentence here just sounds like "a non-English speaker speaking".
    – Fattie
    Sep 25, 2021 at 2:51
  • Jaysson, at the answer of Fattie I've explained my key intention even more in a new comment. Funny, this discussion here makes things even more transparent for me myself - I've never been aware of this aspects of my story which lays already 12 years on my harddrive. Thanks for all contributions here! Sep 25, 2021 at 7:34
  • @Fattie The [first] sentence you overruled had been edited by the native-speakers, as it is. Unfortunately many non-English speakers practice better English than the native-speakers. Excellent pattern wid "epiphany" right in its place (just in case, Yanun is somewhere from China but Ya-Nun is from Germany ).
    – Eugene
    Sep 25, 2021 at 11:00
  • Cheers Eugene; I don't completely follow what you're saying, but you may be thinking more about the " ' rules ' " of grammar, than the pattern and flow of headlines and titles. "The Ya-Nun's epiphany and awakening into the pilgrimage" is reasonably grammatical (except you'd either (A) add a comma after epiphany - if that is what is meant - or, (B) if what is meant is "epiphany-and-awakening" as one group, you'd change something so that is more clear. I'm afraid that, as I charmingly put it, the title given here sounds like crap. It sounds like someone "tried to cram in" the ...
    – Fattie
    Sep 25, 2021 at 12:34
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    ... the bucket-list of concepts involved in a translation (while indeed using flawless grammar and spelling, no problem there).
    – Fattie
    Sep 25, 2021 at 12:34

One thing that might be interesting, if slightly off-center, is The progress of the pilgrim Ya-Nun. This is a bit of a play on words; "progress" refers naturally to getting on with something, and in the case of a pilgrimage, specifically it refers to the route they take; but it also refers to the famous work The Pilgrim's Progress, which might, or might not, be of interest/value depending on what else the story is about.

  • Joe, please see my comment to Tim Pederic at my own answer. I'll look at "the pilgrims process" soon! Sep 24, 2021 at 5:44
  • Ah, probably wouldn't be very relevant for that story - it is a Christian allegory - but an interesting read, thanks for linking it!
    – Joe
    Sep 24, 2021 at 5:48
  • It really doesn't work. You could possibly just go with "Yanun's Progress". (Any semi-literate English reader would get the allusion.)
    – Fattie
    Sep 25, 2021 at 2:51

Ah, it seems, I've found my favorite. The idea is "going forth" making this subtitle:

"The going-forth of the pilgrim Ya-Nun"

A very similar use as my intention was is in this excerpt from "accesstoinsight.org"


Going Forth - A Call to Buddhist Monkhood
by Sumana Samanera
© 1995

    Going Forth (Pabbajja)


The essay that forms the first part of this booklet, bears in its German original the title
Pabbajja which, in Pali, the language of the Buddhist texts, means Going forth, namely from the
household life to the homelessness of a Buddhist monk. The Pali word Pabbajja is also the term
for the first ordination bestowed for entry into the Buddhist monastic Order (Sangha) by which
the candidate becomes a Novice or Samanera like the author of the writings presented here, whose
illness and premature death deprived him of taking higher ordination.

It seems to allow the ambiguity, that in the foreground of the sentence/of the story is a "going" (away, leaving), but in the background is some deeper meaning (where the "going" is only secondary, and on the deeper level an actual "arriving" has happened).

  • This is good. I was going to suggest the very similar "setting out/forth". Something about the participle+preposition construction seems to me to fit your style and need better than a single word like "departure". I wonder if it's because it mirrors the German construction? Sep 24, 2021 at 2:46
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    @TimPederick: Yes, the construction of the expressions in the flow of the sentences is also an aspect, which I had sensed due to this conversation here (but initially, when I wrote it, it was unconscious/automatically). I've, for some other correspondent, put the story (2 pages) together in a pdf, on my webspace, but shall delete it soon again because it is only a part of a small collection. You might look here: go.helms-net.de/txt/yanun/YaNun_TheMoonfacedMaster(deepL).pdf where the deepL-translation reflected my style surprisingly nice... Cannot make the point more precise at moment. Sep 24, 2021 at 5:42
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    @Fattie I heartily disagree. Your answer promotes brevity, and sure, that has its merits. But you seem to be of the opinion that anything else is bad, that it's poor English usage and likely outs the writer as a non-native speaker. I would counter that this terseness is current English. Longer paraphrases like "going forth" put me in mind of older writers, like Lord Dunsany. It's easy to do this badly, but that doesn't mean it's always bad. Sep 25, 2021 at 4:33
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    An interesting side note is that in the first twenty years or so of the Buddha's dispensation, monks were truly homeless, sleeping on rocks and under trees, etc. Becoming a monk was referred to as "going forth" into the homeless life. The Buddha later allowed monks to live in residences provided for them by laypeople. However, the phrase "going forth" (into the homeless life) continues to be used to this day in Theravada Buddhism to refer to laypeople becoming novice monks, despite there being hardly any monks any more who literally live the homeless life.
    – Chozang
    Sep 25, 2021 at 23:59
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    @Tharpa - many thanks for this hints. It is good to have a real(istic) view on this matters, and I think, there have been (only) periods, when "the wandering monk" (without a constant home) were a real role model. I've put my figure Ya-Nun loosely to old times without fixing it because "i know that I don't know" ;-) precisely enough... Sep 26, 2021 at 4:38

I don't think there is one word for both parts together.

got a completely new understanding, and felt, he has now "understood deeply",


picks up all his things and started immediately as a wanderer


  • Ah, I didn't tell, that with the word/meaning "depart" there will be a significant play in the story. "(...) Not has brother Ya-Nun cause for shame," replied the venerable master Sho-Mun after deep reflection, "and by no means has he left us at the morning hour today. 'One who has tied up his bundle and set out has not left us, and one who reports this has not yet arrived'. This koan, brother Bhikkhu, this thought-saying, you shall practice from now on, this thought-saying be a lamp to you from now on, be a guide to you, and be given up to you for complete penetration.(...)" ;-) Sep 23, 2021 at 17:18
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    I also thought of the term "the enlightenment of Ya-Nun" or "the awakening of Ya-nun". However, as I perhaps have a bit better explainedin the previous comment @Shoe, I'd like to have a term, which allows this play, that ambiguity of (the obvious) going forth and the (hidden) arrival at "our" spiritual community. Sep 23, 2021 at 17:31
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    Plays on words in a language other than your own can be tricky. So, for example, novels are usually translated by an expert in the target language, and not by the original author.
    – GEdgar
    Sep 24, 2021 at 15:57
  • Yes, that's well known to me ... ;-( It is the reason why I had no faith that I could ever put it into the english language. Recently I got an impulse to try it with a little poem, and deepL made it amazingly well! Thus I tried this with my story - and again got an amazing translation (better for instance than google's) for the mass of text, and only details seem as if one should try to improve further. The subject of this thread was one of the unsatisfying results... Sep 24, 2021 at 16:07

“Journey” has the connotation of spiritual searching or seeking. “Pilgrimage” is a meaningful religious voyage, although normally to a specific destination. A “quest” has a specific goal in mind, which can be spiritual, and is sometimes used for seeking spiritual meaning in someone’s wanderings.

“Emerges” or “emergence” might have the connotations you want of departure and personal growth.

Perhaps you might say he “leaves behind” his old life, “goes forth.”

  • Yes, those seem promising good, too. Just had a look in wikipedia to find some expression for the process, when the butterfly emerges from a caterpillar. A story could then go: a butterfly emerges from his "pupa"/caterpillar-state, and begins to fly around/away. Its "brother", still in caterpillar-state, critizises that "he is leaving us". The "papa"-butterfly says: no, he's not leaving us, but instead arrives at us in our airy life... conservating the ambiguousity of the "going away"/"going forth" (hope this is not english wordsalad here ...) Sep 24, 2021 at 5:33
  • "...his old life, 'goes forth'." Yes, this it exactly. The spin is, that this "going..." is actually an "arriving" (at the communities ideals) and this expression allows to play with this ambiguity as a "teaching game" in some story. I have taken that last proposal already into my text after that nice discussions here. Thank you all very much! Sep 24, 2021 at 6:08

All you have to say is the pilgrimage of YaNun.

It's honestly that simple. When you begin a pilgrimage, you have just had an epiphany.

In English, it is completely whacky-sounding to spell it out.

To make an example, it would be like saying ...

"And they lived happily ever after, and got married and had orgasms and babies."

The "whole point" of the formulism of "... lived happily ever after" is that they had endless orgasms and babies. It's broken if you add it explicitly.

"The pilgrimage of YaNun ..."

Is all you need, it's great.

Enjoy your (and Yanun's) journey.

Regarding your very detailed, literate description in the other two long comments here. (Which I see none of in the question up top.)

I'm not Paul McCartney, I can't magically come up with in English the phrase you "see" in your head, and which both scans perfectly in English like kein bier vor vier, or bitte ein bit, and is grammatical (although, in English, this means all-but nothing in song titles, headlines, product names, and book/chapter titles), and "exactly" hits the precise, near-ineffable moving-target quality you're aiming for.

However, I can tell you, that in the possibilities mentioned on this page, where I have said "that sounds crap" - it in fact sounds crap :)

Certainly "crap" is colorful (well, brownish, I guess) but you must surely see the point.

My only suggestion if you're in a "stubborn" place where you "don't want to hear about" what flows in English. I encourage you to read piles of Winston Churchill (what about his totally hilarious autiobiography, My Early Life). He is "the" rythymist in English and there's been no advance since Him.

There is definitely a huge, staggering, stylistic gulf between English and German. When you utter the first phoneme of German, you are in a world of depth; when you utter the first phoneme of English you are in a shallows as shallow as plastic wrap.

(The comments by German-natives on this page along the lines of "But, it's perfectly grammatical!" are telling!)

Best of luck, err, mfg !


The best answer largely depends on the content of the story -- the incidence and your style of writing.

For example, say you mention or paraphrase the story of the Zen monk who taught 'presence of mind' by walloping their student in their rear. Calling your story (or chapter or section or whatever the title represents) "The walloping of Pilgrim Ya-Nun" could be a memorable and amusing title to symbolize leaving a monastery and embracing the world.

Or, for example, do you enjoy a wordy, baroque, intentionally obscure Francophonic style? Or would a title in that style ironically contrast to gritty or earthy incidence in the story? Then perhaps "The mystical / mystifying / unexpected eclosion of Pilgrim Ya-Nun" might suit (and might, amusingly, make people think you meant "explosion").

Or say it's a picaresque -- "Pilgrim Ya-Nun Goes Forth" (see Blackadder Goes Forth) might amuse.

If it's straight-forward then something conventional above works too.

[After writing the above, I see this is likely much more than what you're asking for, which seems to be direct translation, i.e., presumably you're content with your word-choice in German and don't want suggestions that deviate from a literal translation.]

  • Ohn thanks for that creative impulses! Well, the depth of your thinking goes far over the small little story, and most likely matches your last "if it's (...)" - but the "... eclosion ..." idea alone is a very sweet one! If you like, I'll reactiveate the link to the story as given in some earlier comment for some hours, so you can see, what the story is (but because I'll put it with some more context later, I'll close the link again soon) Thanks again with your cretive hints! Sep 27, 2021 at 19:14

A naval term with connotations would be "unmooring", lifting anchors. Definitely not the same as "Aufbruch" as it is more focused on leaving behind a fixed point of reference rather than moving to new locations, but depending on the meaning you want to convey it might also be an option.

  • Nice idea :-) I'll see whether I can examples for this anywhere... (But this is just for general curiosity, because I've selected the "going forth" option already) Sep 26, 2021 at 17:11

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