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I have long held the contention that German is comprised of merely 50 root words, endlessly rearranged and combined to make it one of the most complicated and difficult languages known to man.

Example:  The two syllable darling known in English as a “matchbook” gets expanded to the whopping five syllable “Streichholzschachteln” which literally translates to something along the lines of “box of wooden sticks that you strike”.

Seriously.

But if you break these impossibly long words down into their smaller components, you can easily suss out the definition based on the roots.

Here are a few examples.

SPIELOTHEK:

\SCHPEEL-o-tek\ noun

Lit: A chain of casinos.

Fig: A cinema where it is permissible to scream aloud (vent your spiel) at the movie screen, much like when in your own living room.  In every other cinema it is (read: should be) verboten.

 

CHRISTBAUMSCHMUCKS:

\CHRIST-baum-schmucks\ noun

Lit: Christmas Tree Jewelry

Fig: Messianic Jew-hating dicks. ‘Christbaum’… get it? No? Okay. Nevermind.

 

FREIHALTEN:

\FRY-halt-en\ verb

Lit: Keep clear

Fig: What Weight Watchers recommends you do after eating six French fries.

 

ÄSTHETISCHE CHIRURGIE:

\ay-SCHTEK-ish-uh  SHEER-ur-gee\ noun

Lit: Plastic surgery

Fig: A discussion on the aesthetic appearance of Javier Bardem/Anton Chirgurh’s controversial hairstyle in the film, No Country For Old Men.

 

AUSFAHRT:

\AUS-fart\ noun

Lit: Exit (for cars)

Fig: A fart that is released out into the world without fear of recognition.



EINFAHRT:

\EIN-fart\ noun

Lit: Entrance (for cars)

Fig: A fart that desperately needs to be released, but due to the unfortunate circumstance of being in close company, must be held in.

 

STADTRUNDFAHRTEN:

\SCHTAD-trund-fart-en\ noun

Lit: Sightseeing bus

Fig: A special bus where the trend is to stand and fart openly in the company of strangers from other countries.

 

FEUERWEHRZUFAHRT:

\FOY-er-VER-zoo-fart\ noun

Lit: Fire access lane

Fig: Where there’s fart, there’s fire.

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KIMBERLY M. WETHERELL Kimberly's many and varied lives have included actor, stage manager, opera and film director, producer, writer, and restaurateur. She only has three lives left and she's not going to waste a single one of them. The first Arts & Culture Editor for TNB and creator of the TNB Literary Experience, Kimberly has been published by Rizzoli in the book Brooklyn Bar Bites, CRAFT Magazine, The Mighty, and SMITH Magazine, among others. She co-founded the food and drink reading and storytelling series DISH at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City and she's working on multiple projects including her debut novel, several screenplays, and a documentary about female film editors. She thanks you for stopping by and sitting a spell.

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