It’s always difficult to work out the longest word in a language. This controversial question stumbles often on the choice of the criterions: can we accept the artificial, coined words? Should we take into account the chemistry (and its gigabillion-letters-long molecules names)? And what about agglutinations ?
Put an end to these discussions: we asked native speakers what word was considered the longest in their language, if possible that was not present in other languages.
[click on the red words -English and German- to listen them]
1.And the winner is… German! With 63 letters:
The Rinderkennzeichnungs-_und_rindfleischetikettierungsuberwachungsaufgabenubertragungsgesetz is a law draft set in 1999 about “transferring obligations of supervision of the labeling of beef”. It’s still possible to do better (or worse, depending on your viewpoint) thanks to the ability of German for compounding endless words: for instance,
(captain’s quarter’s key on a steam-powered Danube riverboat or so) – 84 letters) or
(the ashtray of the table of the regulars of the law on transferring… etc.).
2. Polish comes second with 48 letters:
A dwustudziewięćdziesięciodziewięcioipółpiętrowiec is a building with 299,5 storeys … Yes sir, they have half-storeys in Poland…
Konstantynopolitaneczka designates a little girl of Constantinople (former Istanbul) (23 letters). She’s living in a skyscraper of 300 storeys, I guess.
3. Hail to Romanian and Turkish for a glorious third position: 44 letters.
The pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcaniconioză is a lung disease affecting pit workers. This word exists in English as well. And the Turkish Çekoslovakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmışsınız means “You are said to be one of those that we couldn’t manage to convert to a Czechoslovak”…
Concerning the last names, the longest Turkish one is Kocakethüdaoğullarından (“belonging to the family of Kocakethüda” – 23 lettres) ; in Romanian, it is Protopopitoricescovici (22 lettres). I wouldn’t like to be the clerk with the form to be completed 🙂
The longest (composed) city name is Staţiunea Climaterică Sâmbăta (29 letters) ; Constantineşti is the longest non-composed one (14 letters).
4. 35 letters, this is the Russian record
Превысокомногорассмотрительствующий is an adjective in the bureaucratic language of the 19th century meaning a very polite form of addressing clerks, something like Your Excellency, Your Highness, Your Majesty all together (Guinness World Records 2003).
The longest noun is водогрязеторфопарафинолечение : 29 letters to designate a “water-muds-peaty-wax-application treatment”. (Orthographical Dictionary of the Russian Academy of Sciencies)
The adjective электрофотополупроводниковый (28 letters) means “electrophotosemiconductive”.
Fortunately, “only” 24 letters are required in everyday life when you want to speak about anthropophobia: человеконенавистничество (Russian National Corpus).
The longest abbreviation is 55 letters long and is the place where you can get some technical things repaired : НИИОМТПЛАБОПАРМБЕТЖЕЛБЕТРАБСБОРМОНИМОНКОНОТДТЕХСТРОЙМОНТ.
5. English fails by a whisker to be on the podium. As well as Italian.
We stay in politics with antidisestablishmentarianism (EN) and anticostituzionalissimamente (IT), scoring each a jolly “28 letters”.
EN – The antidisestablishmentarianism stands for the political view adopted by one who is against the removal of a particular denomination’s status as State Church (England, 19th century).
IT – Anticostituzionalissimamente means “in a way that was extremely against the constitution”.
All who watched Mary Poppins know the word Supercalifradulisticexpialidocious ! (34 letters) (EN)
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is Welsh for “St Mary’s church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave”. Llanfair PG is the usual abbreviation daily used…
6.Last but not least, French and Spanish have in common.
anticonstitutionnellement and anticonstitucionalmente (respectively 25 and 23 letters) : anticonstitutionally.
French comprises hexakosioihexekontahexaphobie (29 letters) for the phobia of the number 666. But you will find that word also in Czech, Spanish, English…
Esternocleidomastoideo (sternocleidomastoid) and superextraordinarisimo (extraordinary) count each 22 letters in Spanish.
A last riddle to finish: do you know where is located Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles del Río de Porciuncula (55 letters)? Easy! This is merely the full name of Los Angeles ! It’s even better than the French town of Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont-Saint-Genest-et-Isson, formed from three hamlets to reach 45 letters and signs.
Feel free to send your suggestions for other languages: we will publish the best ones!