We’ve seen a lot of talk in the last several days about how Germany has lost its longest word, Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz. Yes, that really is an official word in the German language, and its meaning is “the law concerning the delegation of duties for the supervision of cattle marking and the labelling of beef”. The word was created in 1999 when a law was passed to create a new regulation to prevent mad cow disease, but now 14 years later the law is being removed from the official books due to changes in European Union regulations.
Just because the law that resulted in the 63-letter word is going away, does that mean the word itself is no longer a word, or is it merely going to become less relevant? I would have to go with the latter conclusion, but would also have to argue that the word itself was not all that relevant to begin with.
The word, which was often abbreviated to a much more easy to pronounce RkReÜAÜG, will still exist as a reference to the law that is no longer. Surprisingly, even when the law was relevant, the word did not appear in the German dictionary. A spokeswoman for Duden, the publisher of Germany’s most complete dictionary, commented that the obnoxiously long and hard to pronounce words are typically excluded. Apparently, for a word to enter the German dictionary, it has to be “common parlance”.
Technically, since RkReÜAÜG is merely going to the history books instead of magically being erased from our minds, isn’t it just following the path of the previous longest German word that faced the same fate in 2007? The 67-letter word, Grundstücksverkehrsgenehmigungszuständigkeitsübertragungsverordnung, may have been ditched, but it still exists as a word. So what’s the fuss around RkReÜAÜG all about?
Now the question on which word is Germany’s longest is getting to be as confusing as how to pronounce both of them.
Sources: The Guardian