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I have tried googling this and have found nothing. Maybe it's just that I don't speak German so can't google properly.

So, I understand that in German arbitrary compound words can be created. It is honestly not that different than forming compounds in English except that in German they are considered to be one word with no spaces. For example, what in English is motor vehicle liability insurance in German is Kraftfahrzeughaftpflichtversicherung.

But if you google a little you find sites like this that will list "the longest word in the German language dictionary". So I guess that implies that certain compounds are in the dictionary and some are not?

So how does this work in Scrabble? Are only existing compound words that are in a word list allowed? How does one possibly remember which compounds are in the lexicon and which are not? If everything goes, then how it is decided if a compound is valid or ridiculous?

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  • "How does one possibly remember which compounds are in the lexicon and which are not?" Required reading Dec 11, 2023 at 17:53
  • @PhilipKendall: Sure, I'm aware of Nigel. But somehow this is more along the lines of knowing which words in English ending in -ing can take an -s. It must be extremely confusing and largely arbitrary. Dec 11, 2023 at 18:09
  • How does one possibly remember which compounds are in the lexicon and which are not? One doesn't: if you think it will be – place it and see if the word will be challenged. Dec 12, 2023 at 22:02

2 Answers 2

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When you play Scrabble, you should first agree on what lexicon or dictionary you will use to arbitrate a challenge. Playing with German words is no different than any other language.

There is an online checker for German words at https://scrabblemania.de/ published by Deutscher Scrabble e.V.

You can't use Kraftfahrzeughaftpflichtversicherung anyway, because it won't fit on a Scrabble board.

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Even if the word would fit on a scrabble board, you would not be able to use this one because the parts that the word is made from are too long to add in a single turn (Haftpflicht and Versicherung).

The second problem is that while compound words as a whole are making sense, you can not just use parts.

Rind(er)-kennzeichnung-s-fleisch-etikett(ierung)-s-überwachung-s-aufgabe(n)-übertragung-s-gesetz

( ) in that word marks a plurar, bold is a connecting letter and emphasis makes a verb out of the noun.

In that example you would not say: Kennzeichnungsfleisch is a german word, you can have a Kennzeichung Fleisch. The reason in the long compound word, Kennzeichnung would act as a description for Rinder and Fleisch as part of Etikett.

So it is wrong to say you can build arbitrary compound words, the parts in the word need to make sense.

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  • You seems to be concentrating on the fact that you can't just glue words together. OK, fine. The ultimate questions is, assuming that the compound word you form is grammatical, then is it allowed if it's not explicitly in your lexicon? Dec 13, 2023 at 18:07
  • I'm not saying that it only needs to be grammatically correct, the word itself needs to make sense. Schwarzfahren is in Duden and everyone knows what it is (driving public transport without ticket - color black + driving). Gelbfahren is build by the same principle (yellow) but would not be valid not only because the word does not have a meaning. If a word makes sense (and is short enough to fit on a scrabble board), most likely you will find it in the duden
    – Zibelas
    Dec 14, 2023 at 7:13
  • Regarding the first statement: Haft -> Haftpflicht / sicher -> Sicherung / -> Haftpflichtversicherung would work, if the board was wide enough
    – npst
    Dec 14, 2023 at 12:37

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