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Tag Archives: language

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.

Have you ever noticed that pirates and sailors (who are not pirates) are often depicted as having “salty language”?  They are described as having foul language.  That got me thinking.  How are the words “salty” and “foul” related?  It didn’t make much sense to me.

I present the following transcript, which is really just a lot of my musings but conveniently typed out to someone who generally has a good appreciation of ridiculousness and the hard work it is to come up with such:

Moosterkey: Why is foul language considered “salty”?
Moosterkey: Is foul anything else considered salty?
Moosterkey: Salty play!
Moosterkey: That was such poor sportsmanship.
Moosterkey: Salty play!
Moosterkey: You have a salty mind.
Moosterkey: And also a salty mouth.
Moosterkey: Which may spew out salty language.
Moosterkey: What if you wanted to describe something that was actually salty?
Moosterkey: Would you be misunderstood as complaining something was foul?
cherriebb515: hahaha
Moosterkey: This bacon is salty!
Moosterkey: GASP! HOW DARE YOU SAY BACON IS FOUL!

Well, as it turns out “salty” and “foul” are and are not related at all.  At least in regards to pirates/sailors and their language.

salty

adj \ˈsȯl-tē\

salt·i·er salt·i·est

1: of, seasoned with, or containing salt
2: smacking of the sea or nautical life
3a: piquant b: earthy, crude <salty language>

So, it turns out that salty also means “smacking of the sea or nautical life.”  I’m not sure why M-W decided to use “smacking” in their definition, but it doesn’t really matter.  When a pirate’s language is described as “salty,” it could mean that their language smacks of nautical life, which isn’t necessarily foul.  That would make sense.  Pirates and sailors spend an awful lot of time at sea.  And while their speech smacks of nautical life, it could also be piquant, earthy, or crude, which is probably more in line with what we think of foul language.  Tada!

Also, that bacon is so nautical.