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That is a real German word.  Or at least, it was.  It was recently dropped from the German language.

You might wonder as to how the German language even acquired such a word.  Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz literally means “cattle marking and beef labeling supervision duties delegation law.”  As you might guess, it’s the name of an actual law.  They acquired the word when they passed the law, which was related to the mad cow disease outbreak in Europe awhile back.  The reason why the word has been dropped from the language is because that particular piece of legislation is now defunct.  No law, no word.

Of course, you might now wonder as to why the law would be such a long word to begin with.  The reason behind that is because the German language has this peculiarity in which you are allowed to mash several words together to form a new noun similar to tatpurusa.  So, the law describing the delegating duties of cattle marking and beef labeling supervision would be known as Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.  If you perhaps wanted to talk about the beef labeling monitoring assessment assignment draft law debating club state of discussion reportage payment application form, you would refer to the rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetzesentw-urfsdebattierklubdiskussionsstandsberichterstattungsgeldantragsformular.

That last word isn’t real.  Apparently the Society for the German Language invented it for fun.  You might think that’s a really strange form of entertainment.  Well, it’s not.  I’ve done it before too, trying to describe a really horrible, made-up disease.  Of course, when you do that, you aren’t mashing whole words together to form a new word.  You’re only mashing root prefixes and/or suffixes.  But it’s pretty similar.  And it can be fun.  So there.  THERE!

Anyway, in case you were ever curious as to why you keep encountering these gigantic words when you’re out and about in Germany, now you know.

Oh, and if you ever thought twitter hashtags were hard to read, I guess you should look into studying German.


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