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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 August, 2004, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Hunting Germany's linguistic gems
The search for the most beautiful word in the German language is almost over.

Entries for a competition to unearth the most stunning example - organised by the German language council - have been flooding in.

More than 20,000 words, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, have been sent in by email and letter.

German, for example, has a word to describe that niggling melody you just cannot get out of your head - "Ohrwurm", literally "earworm".

"Eisenbahnknoten" is a "knot of rail-lines" or, in other words, a railway junction.

Dictionary dilemma

And "Kulturbeutel" - literally culture bag - is the toilet bag used to take toothbrush and shampoo.

Germany's most beautiful word?
Lebenslust - zest for life
Erdbeermund - voluptuous lips
Teufelsbraten - rascal
Wolkenkuckucksheim - cloud cuckoo land
Glueck - happiness
Liebe - love
Mitgefuehl - compassion
Pusteblume - dandelion
Sehnsucht - longing
Vergissmeinnicht - forget-me-not
Source: Deutscher Sprachrat

The Deutscher Sprachrat institution is offering a two-week holiday in Mauritius as first prize.

The entries are being judged by a panel that includes authors, musicians and film-makers, and Volker Finke - described as Germany's most eloquent football manager.

The competition comes at an interesting time for German scholars, with renewed controversy about changes to spelling rules introduced a few years ago, says the BBC's Ray Furlong.

These are widely detested and ignored by the leading newspapers.

So will it be a simple word like "Liebe" - love, or the more involved "Geheimratsecken," which means receding hairline?

Sunday is the deadline for submissions, with the jury expected to make its decision by October.


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