I always thought supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was the longest word in the world. Apparently, I am very wrong! Let me introduce you to Norwegian compound words. The basic rule is any verb or noun that describes a ‘thing’ can be collected into one word. And it’s completely legal!
It is an everyday phenomenon to read, hear and speak made-up (compound) words in Norway. This means that any <thing> can have numerous names that is only restricted by the vocabulary and imagination of the creator. This makes it extraordinarily hard sometimes to pick up what Norwegians are saying.
However, compound words are known to create misunderstandings. A simple example: If a Norwegian says Tyveri sikret they are saying ‘theft is secured’ but if they say Tyverisikret they mean ‘theft proof’. As Norwegians have a natural mumble, it’s nearly impossible to know what they mean unless you know the context. However, Norwegians love their language and they always use it to get a laugh out of life.
There was a radio competition a few years back to create the longest real Norwegian word. The winner was:
Can you guess what it means? Well, let me just say that if you work in the shipping industry you might get a chance to use: ‘steamship-underwater-strength-test-machinery-construction-difficulties’.