We linguists know that the results of armchair reflection about one's own language are not always empirically reliable. In A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place, Eric Abrahamson and David Freeman attribute to Hans Rindisbacher, professor of German at Pomona, an empirically dubious reason for the stereotypical neatness of Germans:
There may be another language-related reason why Germans can be less tolerant of mess than others: they don't really have a word for it. The closest is the word unordnung, which means "unorder," but that leaves Germans able to think of mess only in terms of what it is not, rather than having a concept for mess as a condition in its own right. It's like understanding coolness only as "unwarmth." It may be harder to appreciate something when the only way to conceive of it is as the absence of something else, especially when that something else is generally cherished. Many English words and phrases that refer to mess-related concepts and processes are utterly untranslatable into German in any meaningful way, adds Rindisbacher. Yard sale is an example. Relatively few Germans have yards or garages, he notes, and if they did, they wouldn't have hundreds of excess possessions with which to fill them, let alone expect others to buy them.