Rhabarberbarbarabarbabaren
November 19, 2013 10:32 AM   Subscribe

A simple guide to how compound words work in German. (SLYT, rudimentary German makes it funnier but probably not essential)
posted by Artw (38 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Now I want pie and a beer, but I'm afraid I won't live long enough to order it.
posted by griphus at 10:41 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


my fave is Dolchstosslegende
posted by Ironmouth at 10:49 AM on November 19, 2013


Panzerkampfwagen
posted by Thorzdad at 10:54 AM on November 19, 2013


Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftoberkapitan was a favourite for hang man in school. Now I realise I could have beat everyone with Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftoberkapitansrhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbier.
posted by miorita at 11:00 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Missing the Rhababerbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbier tag.

Maybe compound nouns would be easier to read with CamelCase.
posted by Nelson at 11:01 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Krankenhaus and Krankenwagen are proof of how awesome the German language is.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:02 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


In high school hab ich Deutsche, uh, gestudied. Can confirm, funny even with EXTREMELY rudimentary German.

Whenever anybody in my high school German class tried to get away with fake German words like 'gestudied', incidentally, my teacher referred to it as 'gemixed pickles'.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:02 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh, but rhubarb pie would probably taste awful with beer, wouldn't it?

Also, they missed an opportunity for rhabarbabier, though maybe rhurbarb-flavored beer would get you kicked out of Germany.
posted by emjaybee at 11:05 AM on November 19, 2013


Kettenkraftrad is one of my favourite German compound nouns, mostly because of how it sounds. And yes, this is hilarious.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:08 AM on November 19, 2013


Whenever someone asks "Is there a German word for..." I want to respond yes, just translate that sentence into German, take out all the spaces, & you have your word.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:18 AM on November 19, 2013


Eine ganz Zeitverschwendung.

Still, nothing beats "Backpfeifengesicht" - which roughly translates to "a face badly in need of a fist."
posted by Ryvar at 11:26 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a German speaker (in some form) I absolutely assure you that this is entirely accurate. I am sad, however, that the story didn't include a bear (bär) attacking the Rhabarberbarbarabar and being fought off by a farmer (bauer).
posted by sixohsix at 11:28 AM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Emjaybee, I didn't see any rhubarb beer, but there is plenty of nonalcoholic rhubarb bier availabe in Germany.
posted by jason6 at 11:29 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


And what about the Rhabarberbarbarabarbierbrauer who brews Rhabarberbarbarabarbier?
posted by sixohsix at 11:30 AM on November 19, 2013


Whenever anybody in my high school German class tried to get away with fake German words like 'gestudied', incidentally, my teacher referred to it as 'gemixed pickles'.

Ah high school German. I took German in high school for two reasons: because I had been to Germany as a little kid and thought it was cool and because I was convinced it would make me more interesting that those conformists who took Spanish because they were supposed to. What I got was the single worst run class that might have ever been taught. I'm not even really sure the teacher spoke any German. I have no way of verifying this because she taught us basically nothing. At least one of the class members was an avowed Nazi who once submitted a virulently anti-Semitic home movie as his portion of a group project without telling the other members of the group (including me) that that was what he was going to do. Things we did instead of learning German:

1) Watch movies. The teacher also taught Spanish so she regularly delved into her collection of English language movies with Spanish subtitles (example: Patch Adams) or with Hispanic actors (example: Fools Rush In).

2) Sell thing. Everyone in the German class was also in the German Club, which threw a lot of fundraisers. Much of our class time was devoted to planning, organizing, and discussing fundraisers. We did fundraisers exclusively because we were in debt from the expenses of previous fundraisers. There was no "raise money and we can take a field trip to a German restaurant" excuse for them; the teacher just wrote a number on the board (I think it was around $5000) and explained that we had to raise that much money because the German Club was in debt and it needed to pay it. The reason we were so much in debt was that in previous years, the teacher had bought merchandise for the German club to sell, it had refused to sell it, and she'd just eaten the cost of the merchandise when no one turned in their money. As an example, my first year in German class she had bought hundreds of dollars worth of this German candy. It consisted of chewy strips that tasted vaguely like citrus and made me at least feel nauseous whenever I ate them. She gave everyone $20 worth of the candy to sell (200 strips at 10 cents per strip) and then told us that we had to give her $20 by the end of the month. The thing is, she never collected, so I just took my 200 strips home, set them on the floor of my room, and ate them. After the first hundred or so, I stopped feeling nauseous after I ate them, so I ate them a little faster after that, but I never paid for them. I don't know anyone who did. She must have been running these fundraisers for years to rack up the kind of debt the club had. By the end of my last German class, she was trying to get the administration to let her put up a vending machine in the hallway. Mercifully, for her sake, they refused.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:32 AM on November 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Wait, what was the prime mover of the German Club proctor buying the merchandise in the first place?

Or is it nauseating citrus strips all the way down?
posted by griphus at 11:37 AM on November 19, 2013


I assume she was trying to take a trip to Germany or something. The Spanish club did a trip to Spain funded (in part) by fundraising money.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:41 AM on November 19, 2013


Dutch has similar features, so you get words like hottentottententententoonstelling -- an exhibition of hottentot tents -- or hottentottententententoonstellingsterrein -- the area in which said exhibition is held -- or even hottentottententententoonstellingsterreinwachter -- security guard for said area -- not to mention hottentottententententoonstellingsterreinwachterspet -- the hat he wears.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:56 AM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


... and explained that we had to raise that much money because the German Club was in debt and it needed to pay it. The reason we were so much in debt was that in previous years ...

I think she was slyly teaching you a lesson about how the post-war reparations in the Treaty of Versailles lead to economic collapse under the Weimar Republic. It's just as well you didn't go on to German II, where, to pay off the candy debt, the class project involves annexing the glee club.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:58 AM on November 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos: that's almost as bad as my high school german class, where the leggy 20-something teacher used the Germany trip as an excuse to seduce the only kid in class who was nerdier than me*.

In his (and after a fashion her) defense, he was seduced by both the teacher AND her girlfriend, which probably qualifies as Winning High School in the Charlie Sheen sense of the word.


*Nerdier as in I spent every class writing games on my TI-85 graphing calculator in TI-BASIC, while he wrote his in Z80 assembly.
posted by Ryvar at 12:01 PM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is a major part of what makes German so easy/rewarding to learn, as a native English speaker anyway. Take diarrhea and constipation. Two words that tell you nada until you have been told exactly what they signify. German? Durchfall. Through-fall, got it. And Verstopfung: being stopped up. It's the Lego of languages, DIY, kreativ und absolut basisdemokratisch.
posted by runincircles at 12:07 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was delighted to learn the other day that figure skating is das Eiskunstlaufen (ice-art-walking).
posted by sixohsix at 12:17 PM on November 19, 2013


Bulgaroktonos, you can now catch up on your German with Loriot's Deutsch für Ausländer.
posted by miorita at 12:29 PM on November 19, 2013


Mark Twain would approve:
  • Generalstaatsverordnetenversammlungen.
  • Alterthumswissenschaften.
  • Kinderbewahrungsanstalten.
  • Unabhaengigkeitserklaerungen.
  • Wiedererstellungbestrebungen.
  • Waffenstillstandsunterhandlungen.

  • posted by MtDewd at 12:30 PM on November 19, 2013


    A friend of mine.. oh wait, he's on MeFi.. Internet semifamous rapper Juicy Karkass is totally fluent in German. One of his amazing feats of mental agility is that he can recite the entirety of Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure in German with or without compounding.
    posted by mediocre at 1:26 PM on November 19, 2013


    Just for clarification, by "with compounding" I mean he can recite the entirety of Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure as a single word. Though he says you have to totally break the language to make it happen.
    posted by mediocre at 1:34 PM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


    As a native German speaker I find it rather fascinating that almost all German words in this thread are either made up or in some way related to the world war 2 :)
    posted by SAnderka at 1:40 PM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


    I don't know enough German to parse this for myself, but just today, I came across a description of a heterogeneous telescope array (a technically challenging and problematic proposition) as a "Dornröschenschlaf" - supposedly, "a sleeping beauty not easy to deal with once awakened".
    posted by RedOrGreen at 2:15 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


    "Where is my Hasenpfeffer?!?"
    posted by Mojojojo at 3:34 PM on November 19, 2013


    Ich lerne jetzt Deutsch, und das war sehr lustig!

    Vielen Dank!
    posted by droplet at 8:50 PM on November 19, 2013


    @RedOrGreen: "Dornröschen" is just the German name for the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. Usually you wake somebody or something from its "Dornröschenschlaf" ("sleeping beauty's sleep") after a long time of disuse . But not being easy to deal with afterwards is normally not part of this figure of speech's meaning.
    posted by SAnderka at 9:49 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


    fashion magazine cover photograph model
    videogame system controller
    table cloth pattern color

    English does all the same things. We just put spaces between the words when we write them.
    posted by cthuljew at 11:00 PM on November 19, 2013


    A few weeks ago, I came across the words, "Schadstofffreisetzungs- und –verbringungsregister" as the title of something I was proofing. It was at that point that I decided that it was time for lunch, because even though it made perfect sense, it's still painful.
    posted by frimble at 3:51 AM on November 20, 2013


    English does all the same things. We just put spaces between the words when we write them.

    German really missed a trick by not camel-casing its compound nouns, especially given with it being the only living European language in which all nouns are capitalised.
    posted by acb at 6:29 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


    I've attempted to learn German many, many times in the past with varying degrees of failure. One of my last attempts at university was highlighted by the teacher telling me, at the end of my oral exam, that if he dropped me off at a McDonalds in Hamburg I would be able to survive but if I strayed from that location I would surely die.

    Ironically, I have since gone on to marry a lovely German girl and embrace that side of the family, especially my mother in law's culinary skills. Still can't speak much german although I do get the gist of conversations.
    posted by smcniven at 8:06 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


    SAnderka: you wake somebody or something from its "Dornröschenschlaf" ("sleeping beauty's sleep") after a long time of disuse.

    Ok, that makes perfect sense, thanks!

    Not being easy to deal with afterwards is normally not part of this figure of speech's meaning.

    So maybe that was color commentary rather than an explanation of the metaphor, which actually makes sense.
    posted by RedOrGreen at 8:16 AM on November 20, 2013


    > English does all the same things. We just put spaces between the words when we write them.

    TruebutthatmakesahugedifferenceintheeaseofreadingandparsingthemeaningfornativeEnglishspeakers.
    posted by benito.strauss at 9:06 AM on November 20, 2013


    I am sad, however, that the story didn't include a bear (bär) attacking the Rhabarberbarbarabar and being fought off by a farmer (bauer).

    And then all going off to part of a theater crowd
    posted by IndigoJones at 10:14 AM on November 20, 2013


    « Older What is a castle? A miserable little pile of...   |   You're reading this because procrastination. Newer »


    This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments