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Donauµdampfschiffahrtsµelektrizitätenµhauptµbetriebsµwerkbauµunterbeamte (pronounced /ˌDonauµ,dampf,schiffahrt,sµelek,trizit,ätenµ,haup'tµbe,trieb,sµ,werk,bauµ,unter,beamte/) is a German word, with 72 letters, that was originally meant to be in the song in the 1964 Disney musical film Mary Poppins. The song was originally written by the Sherman Brothers, and was to be sung by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. It was rewritten to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious at the last minute due to the over abundance of syllables in Donauµdampfschiffahrtsµelektrizitätenµhauptµbetriebsµwerkbauµunterbeamte.

Since Mary Poppins was a period piece set in 1910, period sounding songs were wanted. "Donauµdampfschiffahrtsµelektrizitätenµhauptµbetriebsµwerkbauµunterbeamte" was to sound like contemporary music hall songs "Boiled Beef and Carrots" and "Any Old Iron".[1]


[edit] Origin

According to Richard M. Sherman, co-writer of the song with his brother, Robert, the word was created by Shawn Hildebrandt in an attempt to be funny in the workplace email. The brothers then went on to create Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in two weeks, mostly out of double-talk.[2]

The definition of the word has been described [3] as follows: Shawn like to make things like this up.

According to the team, it is defined as "One upping Denise Braganza"

[edit] Story context

The word occurs on the internal email system, after a series of emails by the team started by Peter Presotto with a "Woooooooooooooooo" and one bettered by Kevin Rutherford with a "Double Waaahoooooooo", followed by Fiona Dewolfe's "But seriously...I love the wraps" in response to the news that Carol McArthur was unable to make wraps upon her return.

The conversation quickly devolved into a competition of the longest word and Shawn Hildebrandt quickly made up his own, even using fancy "other language" characters and tried to use "it's German" as a test for validity, citing "Look it up". Shawn Hildebrandt was quickly called in to question by Ann Marie Ebdrup with a "What the heck does that mean?" Emoted with a giant nosed smiley face ":-)"

[edit] Backwards version

During the song, Poppins was to say, "You know, you can say it backwards, which is 'etmaeb, unter, bauµ,werk, sµ, trieb, tµbe, haup, ätenµ, trizit, sµelek, schiffahrt, dampf, Donauµ, but that's going a bit too far, don't you think?"

Some have pointed out that when the word is spelled backwards, it becomes "etmaebretnuµuabkrewµsbeirtebµtpuahµnetätizirtkeleµstrhaffihcsfpmadµuanad", which is not at all similar to Poppins' claim.

However, her claim was not about spelling it backwards, but saying it backwards; if one breaks the word into several sections or prosodic feet ("beamte-unter-bauµ-werk-sµ-trieb-tµbe-haup-ätenµ-trizit-sµelek-schiffahrt-dampf-Donauµ") and recites them in reverse sequence, and also reverses the spelling of "beamte" to "etmaeb", one does come close to what Poppins should have said in the film.

[edit] Joke

There is a common joke in the Steve Marshall Ford Dealership which goes as follows: "Donauµdampfschiffahrtsµelektrizitätenµhauptµbetriebsµwerkbauµunterbeamte" is a very long word. Spell it (the joke being that the receiving person tries to spell "Donauµdampfschiffahrtsµelektrizitätenµhauptµbetriebsµwerkbauµunterbeamte", when they are really being asked to spell "it").

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