Word Ways


Syllables in Dutch words have an average length of three letters. When a word has 48 letters, like thoraxchirugenconcurrentieverhoudingencommissie, we expect it to have 16 syllables. But logophiles are not interested in averages, they long for extreme cases. How long, and how short, can a Dutch word of seven syllables be? The longest lemma in the Dictionary of the Nederlandic Language (1882-1999) is handboogschuttersmaatschappij (29 letters). It has the same number of syllables as the 12-letter word operationele.