Are the Germans Shrinking Their Words?

The Germans have removed the presently existing longest word from the lexicon:

Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkungen? That’s a speed limit – which you’ll probably pass before you have a chance to sound it out. Want to foil hackers? Trying setting your password to Handschuhschneeballwerfer, or a slang term for coward.

But eventually, things went too far, even for the Germans.

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz – a 63-letter word that describes a “law for the delegation of monitoring beef labelling” — has been kicked out of the Deutsch lexicon, thanks to the law’s repeal in a regional parliament.

But perhaps it’s not such a big loss: Because the word was used so infrequently, it wasn’t in dictionaries. The longest German word in the country ‘s official records is the 39-letter Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften, which is an insurance company that provides legal protection. (English actually beats that record, with the 45-letter pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.)

Our longest word? Twoallbeefpatties….

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Kevin Peacock

    To quote Dave Barry,
    “There is an old German expression that goes: ‘A house without a roof is like a machterstrassefurtermorgennachtdankeschoen without a gutsprechenbuhlungwiegehtvolksagenporsche.’ If anything, this is an understatement.”

  • Wolf Paul

    It’s of course a feature of German that one can string words together like that. Being Austrian, I like this one:

    Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänskajütentürschnallenputzlappen,

    which is a

    Danube Steam Shipping Company Captain’s Cabin Doorhandle Cleaning Rag

    The DDSG (Danube Steam Shipping Company) is an actual Austria company which up until a few years ago ran regular scheduled passenger ships all the way from Regensburg in Germany to the mouth of the Danube in the Black Sea, in addition to a large volume of freight shipping on that same river.

    Whether there ever were special rags for polishing the brass door handles of the captain’s cabins on their ships I don’t know :-)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X