When travelling with the American employee of my German company for days and weeks, we inevitably came to talk about the languages. Even after working for us for more 10 years, he hardly couldn’t speak more than a simple sentence, like “Ein Bier bitte”. Not that I minded, because I knew I would always speak better English than he German, like most other employees of my company. But just for entertainment purposes during our long drives, he would often ask me, “What is the German word for this”, and then quite often we would giggle about the complicated German translation of a simple English word. Like for instance, ‘fuel’ being ‘Brennstoff” in German. He would ask, “How do you literally translate Brennstoff?”, and we would amuse ourselves with the translation ‘burn stuff”. Or, and extension of that, ‘burn stuff cell bus driver’ for ‘Brennstoffzellenbusfahrer’ (something that really exists in Germany). Or how about ‘blood sugar mirror’ for ‘Blutzuckerspiegel’ (blood sugar level)? Or ‘breed box’ for ‘Brutkasten’ (Incubator)?
If you know some funny literal translations for German composite words, post them in the comment sector of this post!