Compound words

Well… I planned to take a two-week break from the blog over the holidays. Then two weeks turned into five. So, I apologize for the extended absence, and I pledge my best efforts to get back into the technology swing of things. (If anyone’s on Ravelry, you can witness for yourself the knitting frenzy I was up to in the meantime.)

We’ve mostly abandoned hopes of learning German while we are here. We are still practicing occasionally on the Duolingo app, and picking up random words from the German students at school. Yet we still frequently experience embarrassment and confusion when at restaurants, public transport, or shops. The German workers grimace at our lack of comprehension and we just shrug our shoulders and say “Es tut mir leid” [sorry].

But one aspect of the language still makes us chuckle: the loooooooong German compound words. Here’s my favorite example so far:


It’s difficult to see, but this business sign reads GESCHENKARTIKELVERTRIEBSGESELLSCHAFT. That’s 36 letters long! Google tells me that translates to “Gifts distributor”. Nutty.

Mark Twain once wrote that “Some German words are so long that they have a perspective. … These things are not words, they are alphabetical processions.” I wholeheartedly agree.


2 thoughts on “Compound words

    • Could be…I’m not exactly sure of the source. I read some of his critiques of the language that are in ” A Connecticut Yankee…” and other discussions mentioned that he frequently teased about the difficulties of German in his letters and journal writings. I don’t think I’ve ever read the stork article you mentioned. I’ll have to check that out. Thanks!

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