Those majestic German words…

I was just checking out a German language forum, looking at one of the word games there, when I saw this word:

die Niederschlagswahrscheinlichkeit

This translates as “chance of precipitation”, basically. When I saw it, I immediately was reminded of The Awful German Language by Mark Twain. Snippet:

  • Freundschaftsbezeigungen.
  • Dilettantenaufdringlichkeiten.
  • Stadtverordnetenversammlungen.

These things are not words, they are alphabetical processions. And they are not rare; one can open a German newspaper at any time and see them marching majestically across the page — and if he has any imagination he can see the banners and hear the music, too. They impart a martial thrill to the meekest subject. I take a great interest in these curiosities. Whenever I come across a good one, I stuff it and put it in my museum. In this way I have made quite a valuable collection. When I get duplicates, I exchange with other collectors, and thus increase the variety of my stock. Here are some specimens which I lately bought at an auction sale of the effects of a bankrupt bric-a-brac hunter:

  • Generalstaatsverordnetenversammlungen.
  • Alterthumswissenschaften.
  • Kinderbewahrungsanstalten.
  • Unabhaengigkeitserklaerungen.
  • Wiedererstellungbestrebungen.
  • Waffenstillstandsunterhandlungen.

Alphabetical processions, indeed! Are there any extremely long words in your foreign language of choice that have caught your attention?

By |2007-03-06T21:57:31+00:00March 6th, 2007|Language Learning|4 Comments


  1. Nils March 20, 2007 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Does Dutch kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamheden work for you?

    It would translate as children’s carnival parade’s preparatory activities and seems to be one of the longest we can come op with.

    It’s a consequence, of course, of gluing words together instead of using compounds. Although Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Gamers’ Convention Attendance Statistics could be considered daunting too. I’m sure one could come up with more 😉

  2. Josh March 20, 2007 at 8:33 am - Reply

    Wow. That’s a long word. 🙂

    I wonder if Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games has been translated into German or Dutch, and if so, if they use a big compound word. Hmm…

  3. Nils March 22, 2007 at 7:20 am - Reply

    No, it would become something like online rollenspellen op grote schaal (online RPGs on a large scale). If you really did it quasi literally you would indeed end up with something like: groteschaalsonlinerollenspellen. Hmm. Nah, not nice.

  4. Joshua J. Slone March 24, 2007 at 2:35 am - Reply

    Takunitagaminituron is a Goa’uld weapon, but can’t stand up to those German words.

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