Schadenfreude

by Joseph Murphy
I was lucky to have lived in Germany for two years, and enjoyed the way Germans combine words to create new and interesting meanings, such as schadenfreude — the enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others — which is the theme for this issue. The compound word combines misfortune (Schaden) with joy (Freude).

Sometime ago, I found a great book that lists many other compound German words. Below are some some of my favorites, drawn from Ben Schott’s Schottenfreunde, German Words for the Human Condition.

Herbstlaubtrittvergnügen — which combines the words Autum-foliage-strike-fun to create the phrase, “Kicking through piles of autumn leaves.”

Gastdrunk — which combines the words guest-pressure, to create the phase, “The exhausting effort of being a good houseguest.”

Kissenkühlelabsal — which combines the words pillow-chill-refreshment to create the phase, “The ineffable pleasure, and instant relief, of a cool pillow.”

And my favorite:

Kraftfahrzeugsinnenausstattungsneugeruchgenuss — which combines the words automobile-interior-furnishing-new-aroma-pleasure to create the phrase, “New car smell.”

If you enjoy these and want to learn more, checkout Schott’s book — and — of course — we also hope you will enjoy our latest issue!
Joseph Murphy is a senior editor at Halfway Down the Stairs. For staff biographies, click here.

© 2018, Joseph Murphy