Schadenfreude and language envy

Thanks to “Avenue Q”, we all know what “Schadenfreude”* means. What a great word it is: it describes something we’ve all felt, and we know exactly what it is. And yet we have no word in the English language to describe that very specific and identifiable experience.

Here below is a list of other words (or phrases) that have no English equivalent. Thank you mental_floss. Trust the Japanese to come up with a simple three words to capture that most poetic sensation upon first meeting someone that the two of you are going to fall in love. And the pragmatic Norwegians have a way of describing any food item that can be put between two slices of bread to create a sandwich. Why didn’t we Brits – masters of the art of the sandwich – think up an English pålegg?

Holes such as these in our vocabulary do suggest that language doesn’t necessarily define or mold thought, as many believe: we don’t always think just within the confines of  the language we speak.  Who doesn’t know that panicky thing you feel just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can’t quite remember? You don’t have to know the Scots’ word ‘tartle’ to know that feeling …

* it’s a German word meaning the feeling of pleasure you get from witnessing someone else’s misfortune

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/102722

 

Earlier this year, Bill DeMain introduced us to 15 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent. Now that you’ve integrated those into your vocabulary, here are 14 more.

1. Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
You know when you’re really full, but your meal is just so delicious, you can’t stop eating it? The Georgians feel your pain. This word means, “I accidentally ate the whole thing.”

2. Pelinti (Buli, Ghana)
Your friend bites into a piece of piping hot pizza, then opens his mouth and sort of tilts his head around while making an “aaaarrrahh” noise. The Ghanaians have a word for that. More specifically, it means “to move hot food around in your mouth.”

3. Layogenic (Tagalog)
Remember in Clueless when Cher describes someone as “a full-on Monet…from far away, it’s OK, but up close it’s a big old mess”? That’s exactly what this word means.

4. Rhwe (Tsonga, South Africa)
College kids, relax. There’s actually a word for “to sleep on the floor without a mat, while drunk and naked.”

5. Zeg (Georgian)
It means “the day after tomorrow.” Seriously, why don’t we have a word for that in English?

6. Pålegg (Norweigian)
Sandwich Artists unite! The Norwegians have a non-specific descriptor for anything – ham, cheese, jam, Nutella, mustard, herring, pickles, Doritos, you name it – you might consider putting into a sandwich.

7. Lagom (Swedish)
Maybe Goldilocks was Swedish? This slippery little word is hard to define, but means something like, “Not too much, and not too little, but juuuuust right.”

8. Tartle (Scots)
The nearly onomatopoeic word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can’t quite remember.

9. Koi No Yokan (Japanese)
The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall into love.

10. Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego)
This word captures that special look shared between two people, when both are wishing that the other would do something that they both want, but neither want to do.

11. Fremdschämen (German); Myötähäpeä (Finnish)
The kindler, gentler cousins of Schadenfreude, both these words mean something akin to “vicarious embarrassment.” Or, in other words, that-feeling-you-get-when-you-watch-Meet the Parents.

12. Cafune (Brazilian Portuguese)
Leave it to the Brazilians to come up with a word for “tenderly running your fingers through your lover’s hair.”

13. Greng-jai (Thai)
That feeling you get when you don’t want someone to do something for you because it would be a pain for them.

14. Kaelling (Danish)
You know that woman who stands on her doorstep (or in line at the supermarket, or at the park, or in a restaurant) cursing at her children? The Danes know her, too.

Read the full text here: http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/102722#ixzz1wYZ7hznP
–brought to you by mental_floss!

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