European Union regulations spell end for Germany's longest word

By Jeevan Vasagar

In theory, a German word can be infinitely long. Photo / Thinkstock
In theory, a German word can be infinitely long. Photo / Thinkstock

Germany's longest word - Rindfleisch-etikettierungsuberwachungsaufgaben-ubertragungsgesetz, the title of a law about beef - has ceased to exist.

The word, which refers to the "law for the delegation of monitoring beef labelling", has been repealed by a regional parliament after the EU lifted a recommendation to carry out BSE tests on healthy cattle.

The law was considered a legitimate word because it appeared in official texts. But it never actually appeared in dictionaries - compilers of the standard German dictionary Duden judge words for inclusion based on their frequency of use.

In theory, a German word can be infinitely long. Unlike English, an extra concept can simply be added to the existing word indefinitely.

At 80 letters, the longest Germon word ever composed is Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitatenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft, the "Association for Subordinate Officials of the Head Office Management of the Danube Steamboat Electrical Services".

The longest word in the Oxford Dictionary of English is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis - at 45 letters. Its definition is "an artificial long word said to mean a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust".

- Daily Telegraph UK

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