n answering this question we must bear in mind that each language contains a certain number of words that form the backbone of
the language and that may be used for ordinary purposes, and also a number of technical words that are coined as new
developments in science take place. Of the non-technical words in English, thelongest is probably antidisestablishmentarianism,
which has 28 letters. Even longer words may be formed by adding prefixes such as anti- or non-, or suffixes such as -istical or -
ly. Thus the perfectly normal word denomination may become interdenominationalistically and to this curious word we may add
the prefix anti-. But theword antiinterdenominationalistically is to be considered as a freak rather than as a typicaldictionary
As for technical words, there seems to be almost no limit to their length. For example, if you have toothache, your pain may be
relieved by thechemical known as dimethylaminophenyldimethylpyrazolondiethylmalonylurea. Sufferers from liver trouble have
often been helped by phenoltetrabromphthaleintetrachlorphalein, another chemical.
Other languages have their unusually long words. Welsh is justly famous for its long place names. We can imagine theplight of a
railroad conductor who must call out the railway station of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgo. gerychwyrndrobwll-Llantysiliogogogoch!
In German thepractice of combining a number of short words to form a long word has brought about some startling
combinations. Thesix-letter English word hyphen becomes in German Zusammenziehungszeichen (literally: together-
combining-mark). The American author Mark Twain came upon such interesting specimens as
Generalstaatsverordnetenversammlungen (meetings of the legislature; literally: general-states- representatives-gatherings) and
Waffenstillstandsunterhandlungen (negotiations for a truce; literally: weapons-motionless-position-negotiations). Thereis almost
no end to themaking of compounds in German; many of them are not to be found in any dictionary.
Many Indian words are also extremely long. This is because most of the American Indian languages often compress a whole
phraseor even a whole sentence in a single word. Thus, in the Indian language known as Algonkian, yalevolemaktawpokwose
means “I am walking about carrying a beautiful black umbrella over my head.” Even longer than this is theAlgonkian word
wutappesittukqussunnoohwehtunkquoh, which means “kneeling down to him.” This word occurs in the translation of the Bible
into Algonkian by John Eliot, a famous colonial missionary to theIndians.
When thegood Indian chief Lepodotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimupo (cont)
trimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakeclummenokichle (cont)pikossuphophattoperisteralektruonoptegkephalokig (cont)
klopeleiolagoosiraiobaletraganopterugon died in i866, in Wisconsin, he bequeathed to posterity what is perhaps thelongest word
of which there is record: his name! It has no less than I 79 letters.