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Monday, May 20, 2013

Wherein my amazing knowledge of German Screws me over

Growing up, I was forced had the AMAZING opportunity to take Latin for four years.

It was A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Though I can say, without the least bit of sarcasm...that it did help with my ability to learn how to break words down to their roots, and thereby determine their meanings. It does NOT help with spelling. At all.

Just a side note.

In case you were wondering.

Anyway. The Latin teacher we had Also knew German (as well as 5 other languages...). This came into play because she would mutter to herself in German when she got especially upset. But it was this odd mix of English, German and I think Italian. (Not sure). But teaching 4 kids Latin couldn't have been very, um, fun. Shall we say. And one word she would mutter over and over was Schadenfreude. Which I thought was German. And I deduced the meaning of this word by putting my Amazing powers of Latin deduction and word-breaking-down skills to work *insert majestic heroic music here*...

Coming up with...!

Afraid of Shadows.

Obvi.

Which is how I used this word for YEARS. Because this is a pretty kick ass word. Granted I spelled it wrong as well. Because phonetically it's spelled shadenfroyda. But still. Kick ass word!

I remember very well when I found out I had this word wrong. Of course it was my older sister who told me...or rather Laughed hysterically in my face and said, "You dork dumbass! That's not what that means!"

"Well! If you're so smart...what does it mean then?"
"If you don't know I'm not going to tell you!"
"You don't know do you!"
"Do so!"
"Do not!"
"It means you enjoy other people's pain!"
"...huh?"
"Sigh..."

Which come to think of it...that whole conversation was pretty ironic...

I think I was 12 at the time. This concept meant nothing to me at the time.

Still. A Kick ass word. And a concept I use quite regularly in my characters.

Can you think of any examples of Schadenfreude in literature or popular fiction?

4 comments:

Mark Koopmans said...

Growing up in Dublin, (the one in Ireland, not California:) I was the recipient of TWELVE years of the "Gaelic", otherwise known as the Irish language.

Complete waste of time - until one day I was living in England and figured out that after learning Spanish, Dutch, a little French, German and Italian that I should have learnt my own language :)

Em-Musing said...

When I was a kid and got hurt, my parents used to say a German phrase - heilig, heilig katze sheise, alles ist besser, alles ist gut - or something like that. I didn't know what it meant until I said it to my daughter one time when my neighbor, who was German was over. She cracked up and told me what it meant.

Liz said...

See, now I know what the word means, but I can't pronounce it. (Seen it in print many times, never heard it said.)

Huntress said...

So, what is the German words for Afraid of Shadows?

And I adore (cant speak it but...) adore Latin.

I use the phrase tener unus quite liberally through out my novel, meaning 'young one'. Heavens I hope I got it right.