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Compound Words #3: Dilemmazone

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welcome to the third post on German compound words. This weeks post will be kinda short and on this thursday, because I will visit Dresden (Saxonia) over the easter holidays. :)

(die) Dilemmazone

This word caught my attention when I watched a German TV show called Genial Daneben (ingeniously wrong). The show features 5 comedians that have to guess an answer on several questions (the questions are provided by spectators, when the comedians cannot guess the answer right, then the asker gets 500€). The questions often feature obscure jargon or terminology. By the way: here is a link to the show (the word occures at minute 34:00).

So the question was "Was ist eine Dilemmazone?" (what's a dilemma zone?).

This is indeed hard to answer, because the compound word doesn't give you many clues. It's just a zone where a certain kind of dilemma exists. That's really unspecific.

The answer presented in the show was: Sometimes when you're driving a car, heading to an intersection just as the trafic lights turn yellow, you have to decide:

  1. Do I speed up and enter the intersection when the traffic lights are still yellow?
  2. Or do I brake?

Both options can go wrong: If you speed up, but you are too far away of the intersection, you might enter it when the traffic lights are already red. If you brake, but you are too close to the intersection, you may end up standing behind the traffic lights (because.. you know.. you don't stop instantly).

So when the traffic light turn yellow, there is a zone in which it's hard to tell if you should speed up or brake - creating a dilemma. This is the dilemma zone. (according to some German speakers that made up that word, I never heard it before)

Well, maybe the word would be easier understood when you add clues to it that make it clear what kind of dilemma we're talking about. We could start by adding 'traffic lights' (die Ampel) - because that's what it's all about!

(die) Ampeldilemmazone

And maybe we want to add 'braking' (bremsen) to it. That should make it a bit more clear. I mean, we could also have a dilemma like "should we use traffic lights or a roundabout?"

(die) Ampelbremsdilemmazone

Well, but now the compound word starts to get long. Should we add more clues to make it more clear or should we leave it at an acceptable length and count on the cleverness of the reader? Maybe it is in the word-length-dilemma-zone. ((die) Wortlängendilemmazone)

A task for you: You could either create a really clear monster-word out of the Dilemmazone or you could create dilemma-zones for other situations. Have fun!

Weird link: Krankenwagen

March 29, 2018


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This link is "...not available in your country." Too bad it sounded like fun.


Which one of them? o.o

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