26.2.1 Non-lexical compound words

Words that are not to be found in dictionaries are called non-lexical (then the other way round, words to be found in dictionaries are lexical words). Non-lexical compound words often have an ambiguous meaning. The rules to invent new words are quite arbitrary. To describe all the rules, it would need approx. 100 pages more in this manual. Still the author is not convinced that all these rules would serve the purpose of learning to communicate in German. The author believes that with a bit of help, a bit of fantasy and a bit of common sense one can understand these words very nicely. And it's not really necessary to create new words as long as one does not feel very comfortable with the language.

Below you'll find some examples of the text we had before.


It is quite probably that you'll never find the word Lohndrückerei again. It is formed from the words Lohn = salary and Drückerei, which is quite hard to translate. It is a substantivation of the word drücken = to press down.

Let's have some examples of the same type    
  tanzen => Tanzerei to dance
  Die ganze Tanzerei langweilte mich. All this dancing was boring for me.
  telefonieren => Telefoniererei to telephone
  Die Telefoniererei war ganz schön teuer.
  All these telephone calls were quite expensive.

We think that with these examples it becomes clearer, what was meant, when it was written Lohndrückerei. Even though the ending -erei is mostly used in spoken language, rather seldom in written language.


Niedriglohnsektor is another word that won't be found in any dictionary.

This word consists of three words.    
  niedrig = low
  Lohn = salary
  Sektor = sector
  Niedriglohnsektor = sector of low salaries

In case you wonder what that might mean, we try to give a short explication. In comparison with neighbour countries Germany has quite a high level of salaries. Therefore many companies prefer to produce in countries with lower salaries. To avoid unemployment it is discussed to permit companies to pay less than what is agreed with union. In these cases the German state would offer to pay the difference between the salary agreed between unions and employers, that the worker could get the usual pay.


With this word you might be able to find it in a very good dictionary. It is compound of Finanz and Spritze. Finanz you'll easily understand, even though it's not a word per se, but it is used in many other words.

Other examples    
  Finanzamt = tax office
  Finanzprodukt = finance product
  Spritze = injection
  Finanzspritze = injection of finances

To know what is meant with a compound word, usually one has to know what the general context in which this word appears is. Some people think it is good style to use loads of compound words. The author of this just believes it makes texts harder to read, when there are loads of compound words. However it is probably a question of taste.

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