kuzar at RESEARCH.HAIFA.AC.IL
Tue May 6 19:00:45 UTC 1997
I have now 53 responses to my friend's query.
Some came as personal messages from netters at COGLING anf FUNKNET,
othrs are from the discussion on FUNKNET.
It would be impossible to thank each person personally, so first of all,
on Yael Wald's and on my behalf I would like to send you an (interim?)
collective thank you.
It seems that - unless I missed s.th - all expressions of this feeling are
in some way analytical. No lg. has a unique single lexeme for it.
It also seems like German is the source for most loan-translations.
I would even suggest that although sameakh le-eyd 'happy to-calamity' in
Hebrew is Biblical (Proverbs), it is a hapax-legomenon, and its idiomatic
usage in Modern Hebrew is due to German-Yiddish.
Brian MacWhinney's suggestion to broaden the discussion is certainly in
line with the original interests of Yael, who is working on a paper for a
conference on this topic, details of which you can find at URL:
research.haifa.ac.il/~benzeev. Its main discipline is psychology.
On Tue, 6 May 1997, Brian MacWhinney wrote:
> Dear FunkNet,
> The discussion of the absence of a word in English for Schadenfreude and
> its equivalents in many other languages has not yet touched on what I would
> have considered to be a fairly obvious observation. This is the
> observation that English has no word for this emotion because the emotion
> is not supposed to exist. One is not supposed to experience delight in the
> misery of others. In fact, I would say that, although I have occasionally
> been tempted to experience such feelings, I usually convert them quickly
> into something like feeling that others have gotten their "just desserts".
> In other words, some moral agent intervenes in the process and I get
> removed from the experience. I can definitely see how someone would
> experience Schadenfreude, but I sense a cultural prohibition of this
> emotion in those aspects of American culture with which I am familiar.
> An interesting ethnographic perspective on issues related to this can be
> found in an article by Signe Howell titled "Rules not words" in P. Heelas &
> A. Lock (Eds.) (1981) Indigenous Psychologies. New York: Academic Press.
> Howell notes how the Chewong of Malaysia avoid language that denotes the
> expression of inner states except through the actions that accompany them.
> It seems to me that a fuller understanding (or at least description) of
> links between emotion, language, and culture is a place where functional
> linguistics can make a nice contribution.
> --Brian MacWhinney
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