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Quick German Lessons- Why you so long?

It’s Sunday Funday! Or something.
Anyway, someone (my parents) told me I should intersperse some fun, silly posts on my blog about things I find interesting, like the cooking fails I put up recently. Therefore, welcome to Quick German Lessons with the dork! Today we’ll be talking about why German words are so dang long.

A stereotype of the German language is that the words are long, ugly, and scary-looking. There’s a reason for this! I’m pretty sure it’s because Germans would rather use old words than learn new ones. (Yes, I just said Germans are lazy, defying stereotypes up in here.)

But hear me out. Let’s take a look at the word ambulance. In French, the word is spelled the same and sounds similiar. In Spanish, it’s ambulancia, and in Italian ambulanza. In German- Krankenwagen.

See? Scary, you say.

BUT! Krankenwagen is literally just the word for sick and wagon/car put together. Sick wagon, or car for the sick. Krankenschwester (sister for the sick) is nurse. Krankentrager, or ‘sick-carrier’ is obviously a stretcher. Krankenhaus= hospital.

This happens a lot in the German language. There is a rule in German grammar regarding nouns that you can essentially stick together as many of them as you want and take the gender of the last one for the article. You can make up new words all you want, and Germans will likely understand you even if its not a common combination.

(They will also give you a weird look, but don’t take it personally. Germans stare a lot.)

This means that English tends to be more concise than German. When you are translating a text from English, you sometimes can’t find exactly the right word in German. English has such a huge vocabulary that there’s a word for almost everything, in precisely the way you mean it. This makes German texts longer (and therefore scary-looking.) The Harry Potter books, for example, are apparently much shorter in their English versions.

However, this also means that German sometimes uses one (long) word to describe something you didn’t even know you wanted! Examples include:

Literally: life + piece + partner
English: a partner for this one part of your life (someone you are with ‘just for now’)

Literally: ear worm
English: A song you have stuck in your head

Literally: foreign + embarrassment
English: That feeling when you watch somebody else do something embarrassing and feel embarrassed for them (otherwise known as why I don’t like watching sitcoms)

Literally: hand shoe
English: glove  (though I think this should be a hand sock)

Arschgeweih (my personal favorite)
Literally: ass antlers
English: tramp stamp

You now have the power to build new words out of any German nouns you know! Congrats! Use your powers for good, unlike the people who made this video.

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