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.
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’.