Friday, May 2, 2008

Odds and ends about language and "the word"

The Wall Street Journal can drive me nuts on political issues. Nuts, I say! On the other hand, it has some of the best researched articles in the world, when they stay off their political high-horse. I remember an article I once read, giving the minute details of the infamous McDonald's "hot coffee" lawsuit. McDonald's must have done a wonderful job of PR in keeping the "real" details out of the news. However, the excellent article in the WSJ convinced anyone who read it (including the skeptical Richard English!) that, indeed, the woman deserved every single penny of that award.

Today they printed an excellent article on language, reporting on research and interviewing linguists. Interestingly, they say that people can be dyslexic in one language, but not in another. Further, dyslexia is twice as prevalent in the U.S., affecting 10M children, than it is in Italy. One reason, they said, could be that in Italian the written word corresponds more closely to the spoken sound than English does.
For the "epicaricacy" lovers here (very few, I am sure!), who might also speak German, I found this article using the e-word. Whatever it says seems to link "epicaricacy" with "Schadenfreude," and they mention something about Wikipedia. While written in German, in the middle of the article, they write this: "„Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others“. Any German translators out there? Also, what are those funny little quotes before "pleasure?"


Bob Hale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Hale said...

I'll have a go. It isn't word for word but I'm confident that I have the gist apart from the idiom "stimmt es schon" where I know the words but it doesn't make sense literally translated.

Schadenfreude, so they say, is a uniquely German concept. What utter nonsense, the feeling is familiar the world over.
Linguistically it already ? (not sure of the idiom)
In English they have appropriated the German word to such an extent – and taken such a fancy to it – that a Google search for it brings up the foreign (i.e. not German) websites.

There is a website, behind which a Chicago Comedy group hide themselves – explaining for visitors that their name (pronounced shade'n'froid) means " pleasure derived from the misfortune of others".
On the other hand the site tells us that there is a similarly named Goth and Death Rock festival in Washington DC.

Wikipedias online dictionary explains for us the origin of the word (Old German scado, frewide), tells us that the English equivalent is "epicaricacy" (small wonder that hasn't found favour) and distinguishes between "secret schadenfreude" and "open schadenfreude".
Moreover we can trace the origin of the word in American regions. It was like this – the TV program, "The SImpsonS" introduced the word in a Father-Daughter conversation between Homer and Lisa.

Bob Hale said...

That missing phrase is

"Linguistically, it is already correct."

I should have known that.

Kalleh said...

Thanks so much, Bob. That is an insightful article. In other words, English speakers have taken more to the word "Schadenfreude" than the Germans have. I think it's interesting that they say "Schadenfreude" is thought to be a uniquely German concept. I've never thought that; we all have those feelings from time to time. On the other hand, I can understand their sensitivity about this.