German Sequence of Letters of the Week: “mpfpfl”

Childhood immunizations are on the radar screen in Germany, thanks to a recent case in which a 14-year-old died of a brain inflammation pursuant to a childhood measles infection. I can't find any numbers spontaneously, but apparently a growing number of woo-influenced German parents are forgoing childhood immunizations. Some are calling for immunizations to be mandatory.

Which brings me to one of my favorite German words: compulsory immunization, or Impfpflicht (from Impf = root of 'impfen', 'to immunize' + Pflicht = duty). Believe it or not, every one of those consonants is pronounced, usually amid a gentle shower of aerosolized saliva. Six consonants in a row is unusual even by German standards.

There is, however, one widely-accepted English word which also has six consonants in a row. Answer after the jump.

*Girthstrap. Something horses wear, apparently.

8 thoughts on “German Sequence of Letters of the Week: “mpfpfl”

  1. My favourite is „schimpfst“ which has a single, rather short soft vowel against one consonant before it and five after it. (In south Germany, it degenerates to „schmpfsch“ with almost no i and t, and evoking the sounds of a mountain creek at flood stage…)

    SCNR: Doesn’t “girthstrap” only have five consonants in a row? For Impfpflicht, you pointed out that “every one of those consonants is pronounced”, so it would be fair to count “th” as a single consonant.


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