B1 中級 美國腔 12859 分類 收藏
Some languages have freakishly long words.
Hawaiian drivers licenses have literally chopped off people's... names.
One ancient comedian spelled out this mystery meat dish.
And German words can get so hefty that even when they lost their longest one in 2013 it
hardly left a dent.
So what's going on in these words, and just how long can a word get?
A couple years ago, I was living the life.
Chained to a desk ten hours a day, working weekends, taking lunch breaks to go snorkel
with turtles in the reef!
Oh, did I not mention I was chained to a desk in Hawaii?
So I had a good swim and I'm walking back.
I must have zoned out on the scenery, singing with the birds or something because somewhere
I took a wrong turn.
And now I am face to face with the street sign that never quits.
Seriously, those letters went on forever!
If you're a normal human in this situation, you know you're lost, you turn around and
you walk the other way.
But language nerds?
We drop our ice cream and sit there mesmerized by phonemes.
Auwe, you think a lone male goes wandering the streets licking an ice-cream cone?
That is creepy.
Nah, we eat shave ice.
The kicker though is if you pop open a Hawaiian dictionary you won't find these forever words.
In fact, most terms will look downright short.
So where are the extra letters coming from?
Hang out with me long enough and you'll hear about Pacific Island taboos.
In Hawaii, the word is "kapu".
Oh, and there are some intriguing kapu stories, but that's for later.
So keep "kapu" but now go and grab the sounds "ho'o", which my grammar book calls a causative.
Smash that onto "kapu" and you'll get "ho'okapu", maybe make something holy or cause to be taboo.
But these affixes only buy us a few characters and they give me grammatical headaches, so
no big wins here.
Besides, most Hawaiian grammar is done with separate little words called particles.
And if you thought dissecting word-beasts was a pain, here's your chance to tame a bunch
of little scurrying word insects!
So beautiful though.
What's better than taking your base word and growing it by sticking on some appendages?
Adding another base word!
This is called compounding, and it'll earn you some serious extra letters.
Watcha got?
Got a brain?
How about a lightning brain!
Here's some Pele dung!
Why not a blunt-pig-snout-triggerfish!
Impressive word-building, Hawai'i.
So then, is Hawaii home to the longest word ever?
It is
What about German or Greek from earlier?
Same strategy: compound, compound, compound...
No record-breakers there either, unfortunately.
The award goes to... drummrrrolllll....
A master-compounder-extraordinaire, a 16th-century writer,
She used compounding in her Sanskrit masterwork in which there is an entire chapter devoted
to basically just saying, "So this guy passed through a part of Tamil Nadu."
But she gushed over that region, I mean she really laid it on thick.
One (just one!) of the litany of flowery Sanskrit words she used to describe the place contains
dozens and dozens of compounds.
And that is how a Sanskrit compound made the Guiness World Records for longest word.
Are we having a moment here?
Is that thought crossing your mind too, like, theoretically couldn't we just keep adding
and adding hyphenated compounds infinitely?
Welp, you're right!
Kind of unfair then, huh?
If that's how we're playing this, fine.
It's a hyphenated verbal arms race.
The thing about words like these is they don't really get used.
Truth is, even with compounding, Hawaiian and German and even Sanskrit aren't winning
any average word length awards.
Around the world, languages where people actually use long words in nearly every single sentence?
Oh, they build words very differently.
I should come back to that sometime.
Stick around and subscribe for language!


你知道英文裡面最長的單字是什麼嗎?! (The Longest Word in Any Language)

12859 分類 收藏
Mike NiKao-Kusata 發佈於 2017 年 8 月 9 日    JT 翻譯    Jerry 審核
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