Triple consonants… wowww

Something I learned today from Marie, one of my German friends – in 1996, there was a policy instituted in German grammar by which some compound nouns contained three consecutive consonants. This is due to the ever-so-German habit of joining together words (Komposita), resulting in insanely long words such as Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz (“beef labelling supervision duty assignment law”).

The word Marie was talking to me about was Rollladen – meaning shutters or blinds for windows. I had assumed the triple L was a typo, but later learned that the word is in fact spelled that way, since the two words from which it is formed – roll and laden – combine without dropping any letters.

From Wikipedia:

Triple consonants affect only the spelling, not the pronunciation. They occur when words are written together, as in Schifffahrt (‘shipping’) from Schiff and Fahrt, Sauerstoffflasche (‘oxygen bottle’) from Sauerstoff and Flasche. Before the spelling reform of 1996, only two consonants were written if the sequence was followed by a vowel (e.g. Schiffahrt but Sauerstoffflasche).

If hyphenated at the end of a line, all three consonants were always written (e.g., Schiff-fahrt and Sauerstoff-flasche). The new spelling of both words is Schifffahrt and Sauerstoffflasche, with triple consonants in all contexts.

Imagine the uproar if English were to have a ‘spelling reform’!