Linguists please

The name of the company is well known in German-speaking countries as a starter to humorously construct even longer compound words. Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänsmütze is such a word, which potentially might even have been used, but probably never actually was. It means a “DDSG captain’s hat”. Another common example is Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänskajütenschlüssel which means “DDSG captain’s cabin key”.

An Dame Margaret, Lady Hodge’s, grandpa:

“Oh there he is!” said Dame Margaret Hodge, approaching a portrait she has never seen face to face before. “It is my old grandad … how amazing!”

The sitter, with a distinctive white moustache and blue eyes, was Wilhelm Hollitscher, a former chief engineer of the Danube Steamboat Shipping Company who fled the Nazis and was soon interned by the British in camps with many thousands of so-called enemy aliens.

The chief engineer of the company would be what as one single compound word?

33 thoughts on “Linguists please”

  1. I work for a German company. I love the word for the little metal plate that covers the feeder mechanism on one of their machines.


  2. Sorry to disappoint, but something like: Leitender Inginieur des DDSG.

    My Duden is in a packing box, but it’s very unusual to see people depersonalised by being compoundnouned (if the final subject were the Captain then “Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän” would be a rank/pay grade). It would come across really odd to use such of a specific and unique individual (the chief engineer is one person but the company may have many captains).

    To mitigate the disappointment, the Rechtschreibreform requires this spelling, which gives you an extra letter:


  3. The Meissen Bison

    Ha! In the nick of time, Großer! However Ingenieur isn’t usually spelled in either of those ways.

    You could have a Hauptingenieur der DDSGmbH maybe.

    Could Stonyground’s machine have a Klappdeckel?

  4. TMB reminds me, the only people who ever got firsts in German were the kids of British service personnel, who coasted for four years.

  5. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    Wouldn’t he be Chef/Haupt/Leitender Ingenieu der DDSG if he was chief of the whole lot ?

    If he was just employed as a chief engineer,on a boat he’d be “bei der” , shurely ?

  6. whatever officer of the said company you use, the compound noun could in theory be extended ad infinitum by adding to the end as below. I’ve avoided the hat cliche

    zum Beispiel:

    Captain’s left testicle
    Captain’s left testicle’s wart
    Captain’s left testicle’s wart’s discharge

    und so weiter

  7. There’s a distinction between a substantive Captain and things appertaining to a captain like a captain’s hat that might be requisitioned from the company’s store. In the latter case, compounding is admissable as BiG says.

    Because it is not really possible to disassociate the Captain’s testicle (whether left or right) from the Captain himself, BraveFart’s compounding would be restricted to describing the suppurating exudate and it’s anatomical source and adding des Kapitäns at the end.

  8. TMB

    I’m very grateful for the German grammar lesson.

    Would my example be compounded if the said testicle were part of a strap-on from the ship’s stores? I believe your average Jerry leads the world in deviant sexual practices.

  9. Having a strap on testicle with a wart that discharges would be some extremely sophisticated specialised gear. So specialised you probably can’t even get off the shelf in the Frankfurter Bahnhofsviertel. They might be able to order one in for you.

    The Kapitänsmütze to go with it is probably in stock.

  10. BF

    Teutonic supremacy in the realm of deviant sexual practices has yet to be widely acknowledged but German efficiency and perfectionism is universally acclaimed.

    So while every self-respecting Quartiermeister would carry the kind of accessory you reference, it is unthinkable that these should feature the oozing blemishes possibly to be found on lesser races.

  11. Bloke no Longer in Austria


    Yes, sorry my post came out a bit wrong as i was having trouble with my phone.

    I think one is supposed to keep adjectives separate. So the compound would be Captain’s testicle wart but left would be on its own. Even then i’d prefer it to be a genitive wart.

  12. I’m going with :


    Has suitably Germanic twang to it!

  13. Trust me the genitive is nowhere near as sexy as it sounds. Though it’s the only case with a denuded remnant still gasping its last desperate breaths in English, so theoretically should be easy for Englanders.

  14. “so-called enemy aliens” So-called? They were aliens, not being subjects of the Crown, and they were citizens of enemy countries.

    So they were interned until they could be sorted out.

  15. Inselaffe in Germany


    TMB can add or remove esses as needed.

  16. Gentlemen, this has been priceless.

    Like being a fly on the wall at an ideas jam session involving Peter Cook, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Rowan Atkinson and Les Dawson.

  17. Inselaffe in Germany

    M’Lud, are you perhaps imagining a dead parrot sketch, where the item being returned as faulty is a strap-on testicle with a discharging wart?

  18. Something along those lines, Mr in G.

    But it might be humorous were our imaginary Boche to consider the strap-on a mere mundane piece of hardware, to be purchased in a DIY shop. We might put Ronnie Barker in brown overalls behind the counter, repeatedly suppressing Dr Stangelove-esque arm twitches with his wanking hand.

  19. “Because it is not really possible to disassociate the Captain’s testicle (whether left or right) from the Captain himself, BraveFart’s compounding would be restricted to describing the suppurating exudate and it’s anatomical source and adding des Kapitäns at the end.”

    Mr B, this is, btw, a line worthy of Waugh or Wodehouse. It is sublime. Dissociate, might be my only note of pendantry. But I don’t care, and you probably know better anyway.

  20. Not that Ronnie Barker might ever have had a wanking hand, and may my fingers be removed for typing such a phrase.

    Waiter, mindbleach!

  21. The Germans are mere amateurs in agglutination when compared to the Swedes:
    (94 letters) which means: “[belonging to] The manager of the depot for the supply of uniforms to the personnel of the track cleaners’ union of the tramway company”.
    [H/T Guinness Book of Records]

  22. The Meissen Bison

    As a devotee of messrs W and W, I’m infinitely obliged to you m’Lud.

    The whiplash of your pendantry had me scuttling to my OED where I found balm and solace: both forms are good.

  23. Back in school German lessons the longest we managed to come up with was something meaning something like bus stop for an express service travelling along a trans-national motorway. The only bit I can remember is autobushaltestelle which set it all off.

  24. It were Lud’s fault, your honour, I was goaded. And it were all them big words, I didn’t know which way to look. TMB, thanks, I feel much better.

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