4 German Compound Nouns that show German Mentality

You might already know that German language offers a broad variety of funky words. In German you can just combine words as you like and create new ones. There are people who just enjoy making up long nouns to impress others. Instead of creating super long words I am presenting you four nouns which are used in the common language and which give you an insight of German culture. If you try to understand a compound noun, always try to figure out what is the last substantive within the long word. It is the main stem of the noun. The other words add more attributes to the last word. Also keep in mind that is shows you which gender the compound word has. Get ready for some insights in German language and culture.

  1. Die Nahrungsmittelunverträglichkeit

Nahrung (s) – mittel –un – verträglich – keit. Nahrung is food or nutriment. Mittel is in this case a medium. “Un” is a prefix you use for showing that something is not. Verträglich means compatible and “Keit” is a suffix that is used in German language to create a substantive. So what it is all about? At the moment “Nahrungsmittelunverträglichkeit” is used relatively often as it is a trend to be intolerant towards several kinds of food. 😉 If you also suffer from food intolerance (this is actually it the exact translation) as you might not be able to eat apples or nuts, just state: “Ich leide an einer Nahrungsmittelunverträglichkeit.” (I suffer from a food intolerance.)

  1. Das Preisleistungsverhältnis

Preis-Leistung(s)-Verhältnis is a word Germans love to use. Why? Because it is about saving money. The average German doesn´t just like saving money – the best way is to get the best value for price. Just buying something cheap is for beginners. Germans love shopping in outlet stores and “Schnäppchen machen” (to make a good deal). This word is used to describe the relation (das Verhältnis) between the value or benefit (die Leistung) and the price (der Preis). You want to be really German? Try to find high quality stuff for a low price and show off with the “Preis-Leistungs-Verhältnis” of the stuff you bought.

  1. Der Lebensabschnittsgefährte

Nowadays relationships do not necessarily last forever anymore. In times of tinder and fast changing work environments people have adapted to the idea that you are changing your partners regularly. Germans of course, with their love for reality and rationality have already created a word for these short time partners (which can be still for a few years). Leben(s)-*ab*schnitt(s)-*ge*fährte. In this word you actually find two prefixes: „ge“ and „ab”. The main substantive is “der Gefährte” which means fellow, whereas “Abschnitt” is section. “Leben” as you already might know means “life”. Cynical Germans love using this word to title someone´s partner as a short time relationship solution who just spends a part of your life with someone.

  1. Die Fleischwarenfachverkäuferin

That´s a long word for something not too complicated. Let´s take the word apart to have a closer look: Fleisch-Waren-Fach-Verkäufer-In. We are starting with the last part. The German suffix “-in” which is added to nouns to emphasize it is a woman, also like LehrerIn or FreundIn. So we know we talk about a woman. What is this woman doing? She is a salesperson: “Verkäuferin” descends from the verb “verkaufen”, to sell. What is she selling then? For this let´s solve the question what is “Fach”? “Fach” basically means “subject”, you can use it in context of school but also regarding a profession. In German you say “Sie ist vom Fach.” which means that the person is an expert in a particular field. So what do we know so far? The lady is an expert in her field of sales. “Die Waren” are goods. And “Fleisch” means “meat”. We have solved the riddle. The lady is specialized in selling products made out of meat. You are wondering why all this language trouble for a shop assistant? In Germany proper education is essential. For almost every job you do training for over three years.  Die Fleischwarenfachverkäuferin learns about different types of meat, the ways of preparation, hygienic standards, accounting and more. Therefore she is a special trained salesperson.

Picture by Marcus Wallis on Unsplash

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