Longest Finnish Word?

I mentioned in a previous post that Finland has laid claim to the longest single-word palindrome in the world – with the word saippuakauppias – so you can probably imagine that ordinary Finnish words that aren’t spelled the same backward and forward can get pretty long. According to the 1st International Collection of Tongue Twisters, the longest Finnish word is

järjestelmällistämättömyydellänsäkäänköhän.

As far as I can tell, it seems to mean “You mean, not even (when it’s done) with their (usual) lack of systematization?” Or maybe “Are you telling me they didn’t even use their (trademark) lack of organization?”

Or something like that. Depends on the context. If anyone can use it in a sentence to clarify, please let me know.

I love how one Finnish word equals 9 English words (or 13, depending on how you measure it). It is also an elegant example of how one word can be a sentence in Finnish. Of course, one word can be a sentence in English, too, but it’ll be a lot shorter. Right? Agreed.

As often happens, though, the number of letters is about the same in both languages. We just like to put spaces between ours.

Anybody got a longer word?

~ by lolarusa on December 8, 2009.

16 Responses to “Longest Finnish Word?”

  1. Fun!! I totally can’t compete in the “longest word” category — in any language, but this gives me an excuse to talk about two of my favorite foreign words/phrases.

    “Selbsverstaendlich” — which in German means “self-understanding”, referring to something that is so $(@*# obvious that it understands *itself*.

    “habeistemos descansandieronmosnos” — which is totally not Spanish, but when I was a high schooler learning and bewildered by Spanish, I invented this horrible conjugatory nightmare and also invented a fake meaning for it: “That we might have waited for them while they gave us ourselves”. In high school, this was really, really funny.

  2. I like your Spanish sentence. It’s like you combined Spanish words with Finnish grammar (or something that works kind of like Finnish grammar). Cool.

  3. “mamihlapinatapai”
    It’s a word from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego (Argentina), listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the “most succinct word”, and is considered one of the hardest words to translate. It describes “a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but which neither one wants to start.

  4. Excellent word, Mosh!

  5. Anitdisestablishmentarianism.

  6. Years ago in Linguistics class, the prof briefly touched on Inuktitut, pointing out that one many-lettered word can contain a whole sentence’s worth of meaning. I was just about to hypothesize that languages in cold climates — and I know what it feels like to try speaking with a winter-numbed mouth — may be extra-economical with their wording, but then Mosh’s comment above seems to refute this theory.

    (PS Turtle has returned. Stop by my blog and I’ll crochet a dishcloth for you!)

  7. Hey, there lavenderbay! Good to have you back.

  8. I thought of you, and Finland…

    http://rss.sightline.org/daily_score/archive/2010/03/02/medals-per-10-million

  9. Very illuminating, Vinnie. I thank you.

  10. megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért

    longest Hungarian word.
    Roughly translated: for your [plural] repeated pretending to be indesecrable. Hungarian is related to Finnish (linguistically). Both are finno-ugric.

  11. actually you can make the word even longer by adding ” epä” before the word: epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydellänsäkäänköhän :) the word isn’t actually usable and you cant even explain what it means…. x) finnish is a funny language though not very useful…:D

  12. oh yeah:D
    The longest hungarian word is :
    megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért
    It’s a very hard word for the hungarians too :D

  13. But what does it mean, Petra?

  14. Badly compressed to one sentence:
    The reverse of the reverse of something abstract that is made to be unorganized, which is owned by someone, and is one of the two or more (possibly similar) attributes that have a negative atmosphere or lack of something, and we doupt if it is it at the same time that we ensure that it truly is.

  15. I ment the finnish word :)

  16. In other words, Jukka:

    You mean, not even with their disorganization?

    Or something like that.

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