German is famous, almost infamous, for its ability to make compounds words by simply adding more and more affixes. The combinations are virtually unlimited. As Mark Twain put it, “Some German words are so long that they have perspective.” Below is an article which lists 8 ridiculously long, yet still correct German words. Of the eight, Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän relates directly to the Danube, meaning “Danube steamship company captain.” Even longer words can be created by adding more to that word, examples include Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänsmütze (the captain’s hat), Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänskajütenschlüssel (the captain’s cabin key) and the most terrifying Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft (Danube steam ship transport’s electricity’s head operation’s work building under officials association).
As German loan words have been used in English for centuries, the German-speaking Danube, in a way, has already been brought to the Thames. Some German food words used in English include ‘apple strudel’ from Apfelstrudel, ‘hamburger’ from Hamburger, ‘lager’ from Lager, and ‘wiener’ from Wiener, which actually means Viennese or a person from Vienna. Some academic terms taken directly from German with no spelling changes are ‘Neanderthal’ (Neander valley), ‘Bildungsroman’ (a novel about the protagonist’s moral and psychological growth), and ‘zeitgeist’ (spirit of the time). Some more commonly used words with German roots are ‘doppelganger’ from Doppelgänger, ‘kindergarten’ from Kindergarten, ‘uber’ from über, ‘waltz’ from walzen (to revolve), and ‘wanderlust’ from Wanderlust.
As mentioned earlier, making compound words in German is quite easy. This feature allows the language to not require as many morphemes since new words are created simply by combining previously existing words. In a sense, German is quite a logical language as it associates ideas together to convey another. Animal names in German are a wonderful example of this linguistic feature:
To English speakers, German might sound a bit harsh. For this view, bands like Rammstein are partly to blame. The group’s daily German sessions really eradicated this belief by showing how smooth and even humorous German can be. The following are some mild curses in German with rather funny literal translations. Enjoy!
Dorftrottel: village idiot
feiger Hund: cowardly dog
Himmeldonnerwetter: sky thunder weather