I have laryngitis.

In German (auf Deutsch) that is Kehlkopfentzündung.

My German ability is mostly rusty and was never stunning, but I do know that Kopf means “head.” So where are they going with this? Okay, more research. Ah ha – Kehl means “throat,” and Kehlkopf means “larynx.” “Throat-head” means “larynx?” That’s perfectly logical. (?) And finally, entzündung means “inflammation” (as does “itis” – but in the logical German compound word fashion it’s three or four times as long).

Those damn Germans are always smushing thirty or forty words together and trying to pass them off as one word. Moreover, they’ll take a verb with a separable prefix, insert the verb portion, add about 700 phrases and THEN add the required prefix. They are just plumb crazy. I can say that because I have German ancestry; they are “My People.” More precisely, they are about 3/16th’s my people.

Another one of my people, Mark Twain (Yes, I am related somehow to Samuel Clemens), is completely in agreement with me. Read this segment fromThe Awful German Language:

The Germans have another kind of parenthesis, which they make by splitting a verb in two and putting half of it at the beginning of an exciting chapter and the other half at the end of it. Can any one conceive of anything more confusing than that? These things are called “separable verbs.” The German grammar is blistered all over with separable verbs; and the wider the two portions of one of them are spread apart, the better the author of the crime is pleased with his performance. A favorite one is reiste ab — which means departed. Here is an example which I culled from a novel and reduced to English:

“The trunks being now ready, he DE- after kissing his mother and sisters, and once more pressing to his bosom his adored Gretchen, who, dressed in simple white muslin, with a single tuberose in the ample folds of her rich brown hair, had tottered feebly down the stairs, still pale from the terror and excitement of the past evening, but longing to lay her poor aching head yet once again upon the breast of him whom she loved more dearly than life itself, PARTED.”

However, it is not well to dwell too much on the separable verbs. One is sure to lose his temper early; and if he sticks to the subject, and will not be warned, it will at last either soften his brain or petrify it.

You see my point. Even so, I’m strongly considering telling people (or more accurately, croaking to people or writing to people) that I have Kehlkopfentzündung. It at least sounds exotic. “Have you been traveling in the “TROPICS?” they might query.

If one must be ill one might at least sound well-traveled. Infirmity has little else to offer.