Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton
pne

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Inherently funny words

Some words in Germanic languages seem inherently funny to me as a speaker of German, because I imagine them translated morpheme-for-morpheme into their German cognates, and the result seems funny since it's not how you express it in German, even if you can understand it.

Specifically, I get that reaction with Dutch hoeveelheid "quantity" ("Wievielheit"? "how-much-ness"?) and Scandinavian hastighet "speed" ("Hastigkeit"? "hastiness"?).

Of course, the normal German word for "speed", Geschwindigkeit, sounds equally funny if you think about it for too long, perhaps because geschwind is not normally used in informal speech, so you have a contrast between the formal or poetic geschwind and the completely "normal" Geschwindigkeit.

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