Many German nouns are long- some are too long. In this blog post, I will explain why this not a bad thing.
When you hear or read anything about the German language chances are people complain about a) how awful the language sounds- only voiced by those who don't speak the language b) how difficult German grammar is- true, but unlike other European languages, it is quite logical for the most part- or c) how long some German words are. What people don't often discuss is how brilliant some of those German compound nouns are. Yes, most of them are quite long, yet they usually offer a quite insightful take on a concept.
One of my favourite German words is “Fingerspitzengefühl”, literally the feeling you have in your finger tips, which captures quite vividly that kind of sensitivity that is required in certain emotionally charged situations. Another example of a word I love is "Neugier" (curiosity), which literally means greed for new things. And don't we all know the feeling of being "neugierig", that is, greedy for new information.
Another example of a word I really like because its literal meaning reveals an interesting perspective on the concept is "Sehenswürdigkeit" (sight). When you take the noun apart it means "thing worth seeing" because würdig is worthy and sehen means to see. While the English sightseeing is literally what you do, the German word adds the ideas of selectivity and significance to it.
And how about "Ohrwurm" (ear worm), which is used for a catchy tune that doesn't go out of your ears. We all know the feeling that this is exactly what a good song can do, it crawls into your ear with its melody and stays there for quite a while.
I'm going to update this blog post with further examples as they come to me. Feel free to contact me with suggestions. Thanks for reading.
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