Good news, German speakers!  Despite numerous news stories to the contrary (though apparently none in German?), it is not actually possible to deprive a language of a word just by passing a law!    As it turns out, just because some bureaucrats in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern made the (very sensible) decision to abandon the word Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz, you don’t have to stop using it.  What’s that?  You never did use it?  Oh, that’s right, it was made up by bureaucrats in the first place.

Oh, I am sure that someone will mourn this now-abandoned word of 63 letters, 65 if you count the two übers as uebers.  Surely somewhere out there lies a secret society of those dark souls ensnared by the agglutinatavistic splendors of Bandwurmwörter (tapeworm words), the evocative-yet-disgusting (or should I say evocativeyetdisgusting) German term for such morphological monstrosities.    But no sensible people.  And for those who prefer the unpronounceable complexity of its acronym, RkReÜAÜG, which is clearly taken straight from the Acronomicon, truly, you are more dauntless than those benighted souls who insist on pronouncing Cthulhu with not one but two voiceless alveolar lateral fricatives, as Lovecraft himself intended.

In conclusion, as it turns out, the equation “Language = Dictionary + Grammar” is ridiculous, and no one can make or unmake a word by fiat – a metalinguistic assumption that seems to mostly be held by journalists with no major Turkish populist demonstrations to report.

Author: schrisomalis

Anthropologist, Wayne State University. Professional numbers guy. Rare Words: http://phrontistery.info. Blog: http://glossographia.com.

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