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In 2010 it officially happened. A German word for a law became so long that the people creating it - the ministry of finance - decided to hyphenate it, without that being grammatically necessary at all:


You see, while German words theoretically can become infinitely long, the language actually allows for compound words to be split up into two or more parts if they become too long with the help of hyphens, in order to make them easier to read. Yes, that version above is the one that's easy to read. But I refuse to type those devilish letters again. There are few things I detest more than that Deppenbindestrich (idiot hyphen), as some people call it. The only way to write Krankenversicherungsbeitragsanteilermittlungsverordnung is Krankenversicherungsbeitragsanteilermittlungsverordnung, and if you write it any other way than that, you are a fraud.

Personally, I consider the hyphenated version an abomination of the language and, more significantly, a direct assault on the fine tradition of German lawmakers creating ridiculously long words for the people's amusement. If you are sitting in a German legislative body and you are not trying to find a way to create monsters like "Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz", and not just print them, but make them subject of the states' monopoly of force, you are a fraud.

The only thing left for me to do here is pick up the pieces and look for a reason why this ferocious assault on everything dear to me happened. And I guess I know the reason: The Krankenversicherungsbeitragsanteilermittlungsverordnung is a law the common citizen is supposed to be familiar with. Unlike the Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz, which transferred the task to supervise the labeling of beef products from the EU to national level (or the other way around, I don't remember), the Krankenversicherungsbeitragsanteilermittlungsverordnung concerns people's everyday life and not knowing about it can cost you money.

See, the law's name might be translated as "health insurance premium share determination ordinance". Without getting too far into the details, it makes health insurance premiums tax-deductable once they pass a certain (income-dependent) threshold. So, in conclusion, the hyphen in the name of the law seems to be an attempt to make the ordinance and its benefits easier to grasp for the tax payer.

I get the impression that the concept of making laws easier to understand is rather new to German legislative bodies. In fact, "Krankenversicherungsbeitragsanteil-Ermittlungsverordnung" is actually the short name of the law, the full name being "Verordnung zur tarifbezogenen Ermittlung der steuerlich berücksichtigungsfähigen Beiträge zum Erwerb eines Krankenversicherungsschutzes im Sinne des § 10 Absatz 1 Nummer 3 Buchstabe a des Einkommensteuergesetzes".

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