The compound word (German: Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft (help·info) (English: Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services) is an example of the virtually unlimited compounding of nouns that is possible in many Germanic languages. According to the 1996 Guinness Book of World Records, it is the longest word published in the German language, having 79 letters.
It was allegedly a suborganization of the Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft in pre-war Vienna, Austria, a shipping company for transporting passengers and cargo on the Danube. The DDSG still exists today in the form of the now private companies DDSG-Blue Danube Schiffahrt GmbH (passenger transport) and the DDSG-Cargo GmbH. However, there is no evidence that the suborganization ever existed.
Long compound words are used sparsely in German conversation, but considerably more often than in English. A pre-World War I Danube steamship captain could be referred to as Donaudampfschiffskapitän more naturally than with the somewhat contrived title Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän ("Danube steamboating association captain"). According to the 1995 Guinness Book of World Records, the longest German word in everyday usage is Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften ("legal protection insurance companies") at 39 letters.
The German spelling reform of 1996 abolished the rule that compound words with triple consonants coalesce them into double consonants. The reform affects noun adjunct Schiffahrt, itself a compound of Schiff ("ship") and Fahrt ("transportation"), which is now spelled Schifffahrt (with three f's). A modern spelling would use 80 letters, Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft. However, as the compound is (allegedly) a historical name, the original spelling with 79 letters is kept.
The compound word contains the uncommon plural Elektrizitäten. Elektrizität ("electricity") is normally used only in the singular.
- Rinderkennzeichnungs- und Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz
- Longest word in English
- Noun adjunct