German – The language with the longest nouns

One of the really fascinating aspects of the German language is the ability to create new nouns by adding other nouns. And there are almost no limits. That makes the German language very flexible and colorful.

For most German students words like Geschirrspühlmaschine (dishwasher), Sommerschlussverkauf (sale), Fuβballweltmeisterschaft (soccer wold championship), Höchstgeschwindigkeitsüberschreitung (speeding) are pure horror. The English language often needs only a third of the letters or only a couple of nouns or sometimes even a whole sentence to express the same.

Especially when trying to spell numbers in full the word seems endless. 836457 turns into achthundertsechsunddreiβigtausendvierhundertsiebenundfünfzig. The Germans are always on the search for the longest word that can be created. And you really can be creative. Word creations like Weihnachtsrippenfigurenmindestbestellmenge (the minimum number of Christmas crib figures one has to order) and Unterwasserkameraobjektiv (the lens of a submarine camera) sound funny but are barely used. The English language sometimes needs a whole sentence to explain nouns like those. The longest nouns exist in the field of the natural science and the administrative language. Let’s try to find out how many nouns were puzzled together for that one:
Krankenversicherung + Beitrag + Anteil + Ermittlung + Verordnung
(regulation for the determination of the health insurance contribution)
The letter „s“ in between the nouns acts as a “+” and often gives you a hint where one noun ends and the other noun begins. It doesn’t work all way through for the next noun:
Try it! How many German nouns are included in that one? Take it to your next German class and try to solve it together. It’s a fun game and a good practice.