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….

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  • 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:


    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 :-)