We all love long words.

We all love impressively long words, don’t we? We especially love words from languages like German and Turkish, which are known for harboring such beasts —like Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän and muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriveremeyebileceklerimizdenmişsinizcesine. But those are not particularly natural words in German and Turkish respectively, any more than pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is a natural word in English. All of these are real words, but they are clearly outliers.

Greenlandic, however, is filled with naturally long words, and I recommend this post on that subject.

Now you may not even know that Greenlandic is a language. If you’re young and woke, you refer to it as Inuit. If you’re old and out-of-date, you might still be calling it Eskimo. But it’s really Greenlandic, which is one of the Inuit languages but is specified in contrast to similar languages spread out over the north from Greenland to Alaska. Check out this post on Greenlandic words (third in a series) — it’s scientific and data-driven, providing hard evidence about word lengths in Greenlandic. But before we look at the compellingly informative bar chart in the article, let’s look at an example:


It says here that this means “It seems that they were well into the process of talking about founding an association for the establishment of a Telegraph Station.” How could you not love such a word?

Anyway, I promised you a “compellingly informative bar chart,” and here’s one from the article, which points out that it shows “Quite a striking difference” between English and Greenlandic. The horizontal axis is word-length, the vertical is number of words of that length (from comparable texts):

Categories: Linguistics