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"Combination" Words


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I'm not sure what the official term for this is, but does anyone else think it is kind of awesome that, in German, many words are just combinations of smaller words? I've found that this makes learning German vocabulary much easier.  For instance, kranken means sick, wagen means car, haus means house.  Ambulance? Krankenwagen.  Hospital? Krankenhaus.

Does anyone else enjoy this?

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I have seen this in one of the German books I had at home, and even if I haven't properly started learning yet, the idea got me more into the language. I found it fascinating, and at the same time a bit practical since you can name something using two words that describe it instead of a whole new word.

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Yes, this is something that I also found fascinating when I studied German in college.  These words look amazing on the page and they are so descriptive. 

"Gedankenfreiheit" --  which means "freedom of thought"  -- is one that I always liked.  But there are plenty of words that are much, much longer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There are other languages like this a well, they build longer words from simpler ones. My favorite long German word is "Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften" or "legal protection insurance companies".

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I don't know if that is something that makes learning German much easier but it is definitvely something special about this language. You can build long, long words this way.

Not learning German right now, but I was wondering how it is possible to build long, long words lol.

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We have the same thing in Dutch too. Note that these are combinations of all nouns. The last noun of the word is the actual thing you're describing, and from there, each word before it describes it in further detail. Therefore you cannot just throw words together in random order, or the meaning would be lost.

A common mistake is to separate the words, interestingly enough, in Dutch this is known as 'English disease', because word combinations in English generally are separated.

So that's the difference between word combinations in English and in German (and Dutch) - they're separate in English, but the meaning is the same and the importace of the order of the words is too.

For example, look at the word 'knob'. It's quite broad, it can be used to describe any knob in the world.

We can describe it more in detail by adding a word: 'doorknob'. Now it's a knob that's specifically made to fit on any door.

Add even more words for more detail: 'cellardoorknob' is a knob to fit on doors that close off any cellar.

A fun game is to take one word and keep adding, like I did above, but usually in the opposite direction. You could start with 'cellar' and make your way through to 'cellardoorknobfactorymachinerepairmanstoolbeltfastener' - a single noun to describe a fastener on a belt to hold tools from a repairman of machines in factories for knobs that fit on doors that close off a cellar.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I definitely missed this after I started speaking primarily in English. I think my favorite German combination words are "Schadenfreude" and "Weltschmerz." Some of the German compound words I used to use, don't really have an equivalent in English.

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I was intriqued with how some of the words have no space . I was kinda confused when I first got to the word 'musikinstrumente' where it's all in one word. For a second I thought it's a mistake because there's no space  .Then I started to see more like 'Telefonnummer' and 'Kreditkarte'. 'Lebensmittevergiftung' was one of my favorite and was proud that I remembered that word since it looks so long then I see longer words  :grin:

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  • 2 weeks later...

One of the things I love about German (and Dutch) is the immense propensity for using agglutinative words especially nouns. They simply stack on word after word (with the last word being the one that has the core meaning) to describe pretty much any object.

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  • 2 months later...

There are other languages like this a well, they build longer words from simpler ones. My favorite long German word is "Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften" or "legal protection insurance companies".

Very good example!

Let me expand it a bit:

Rechtsschutzversicherungsangestellter = the employee of that legal protection insurance company!

And the salary (Gehalt) he would be paid would then be = Rechtsschutzversicherungsangestelltengehalt

Please note that these single words, when GLUED together, mostly (not always!) need a glue in between them! I am a native German speaker, so I lack the technical term for that, I just call that the GLUE LETTER when explaining to my American husband why his word combination went wrong.

Recht and Schutz are glued together wits an s, while the added Versicherung is just added without that. But when you add another term after Versicherung, in this case Angestellter, you will need another s inbetween them.

Now when adding the salary (Gehalt) to the employee (Angestellter), the r at the and becomes an n.

Angestelltengehalt

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  • 2 years later...

I think it's really cool!^^ But there are also some "uncreative" words, e.g. words with "Zeug" at the end. Examples: Flugzeug (airplane; lieterally translated: flying thing), or Feuerzeug (lighter; litteraly translated: fire thing). xD

And there are also some "combined" words that don't make sense. xD

But all in all I think it's very cool.^^

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