Just in time for the mass transit of New Zealand writers (and chefs) to Germany for all the fun of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Guardian has launched a new series on the country, “The accidental empire”.
Among the dozens of pieces is one on German words.
Mark Rice-Oxley picks as his favourites Handschuhschneeballwerfer (a person who wears gloves to throw snowballs) and Sitzpinkler: a man who pees sitting down.
And while there remains doubt as to whether the longest German compound, cited in the Guinness Book of Record , ever in fact existed, it is, surely, too good to check:
Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft, or the association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services.
A handful more, suggested in the comments under the piece (can’t vouch for them, etc):
Reißverschlusssystem Traffic merging like a zip
Eisenbahnknotenpunkthinundherschiebershäuschen The little cabin where in earlier times the switchman was manually operating the railroad switches
Torfabbaugenehmigung A governmental permission to develop bogland, in order to use the peat for commercial purposes
Sitzriese Somebody who looks bigger when they’re sitting down than when they stand up