Archive for January, 2004

Brief Friendly Chat

Wednesday, January 7th, 2004

Once again the Simpsons come through. This is good:

   Horst: Homer, could ve have a word with you?
   Homer: No.
   Horst: I must have phrased that badly.
          My English is, how you say, inelegant.
          I meant to say, may we have a brief friendly chat.
   Homer [rising tone of panic]: No.
   Horst: Once again, I have failed.  [consults phrasebook]
          We request the pleasure of your company for a free exchange
          of ideas.
   Homer: [runs away]

Latin Correlatives and Vowel Interchange

Tuesday, January 6th, 2004

As promised, here are those interesting Latin correlative place/direction adverbs.

German Isn’t Fancy Enough

Monday, January 5th, 2004

Everyone knows about “Schadenfreude”, malicious rejoicing in the misfortunes of others. The first half of this word, at least, needn’t be forgotten since the “Schaden” is cognate with our “scathe”. It means “damage”. The other part, “freude”, answers to something like “frith” in old-school English, and has to do with “friend” — but you might be better off just remembering it as German for “joy”. Then you’ll be able to understand arbeitsfreude and many other delights. That is to say, you’ll understand the signification of arbeitsfreude — you might not feel the emotion.

But why must we use a German word? Some folks say that only German has a word for this emotion, but my friends! it ain’t true. It is a low and prejudicial lie. There are others.

I pass by the Swedish “skadeglädje” with regret, not gladness, since that “glädje” is much easier to remember than “freude”. But let’s keep it realistic here, English speakers might use single Swedish words (like “glogg” or whatever) but a Swedish compound is less likely to be adopted. Especially not one with an umlaut, for all love.

A helpful friend tells me of a Russian “zloradstvo”, where zlo is “like evil or some shit” and rad is “happy” and stvo is “ness”. But even anglophone tongues agile enough to make it past that initial “zl” might catch in the thickets of that “dstv” consonant-cluster.

And then there’s the Greeks, who have epichairekakia. One would like to abgregate this — it’s the greatest thing for mnemotechnic — but it’s not even in the OED so it’s harder than usual. One guesses that the “epi” is “because of / about” and the kakia has to do with badness.

It is, I confess, a matter of some doubt whether epichairekakia is actually attested in English – the only evidence I have for this is the statement of one Cinderella Bloggerfeller in the comments section of a weblog called God of the Machine. Ms. Bloggerfeller says saying that Burton used it in his Anatomy of Melancholy. But the only searchable etext I’ve found of this work seems not to have the word. So Burton may have put it in Greek characters, which hardly counts as using it as an English word.

Maybe Schadenfreude will do after all.