Jarno Raukko jraukko at DOMLANG.FI
Wed May 7 07:49:14 UTC 1997

What really worries me is the implicit assumption by some participants
in this discussion that we all are actually talking about a semantically
constant concept in various languages. OK, it has been admitted that
German may have developed a semantic shade that those languages do not
have that are otherwise claimed to have "copied" the expression. But
otherwise, still; consider what Phil Bralich writes Tue, 06 May 1997
11:21:37 -1000:

> What interests me is the fact that all languages can express the
> same concepts, but in some cases they choose to do it in one
> word while in others they require a phrase or a sentence.

It is scary that P.B. talks about "the same concepts" after so many
discussants have reported (i) uncertainty over what the word
Schadenfreude means, (ii) uncertainty over possible translations,
(iii) uncertainty over what these concepts in their native language mean,
and (iv) intersubjective disagreement over the meaning of these words in
question between native speakers of the language.
        I am still quite puzzled what Schadenfreude and its suggested
translations in other languages mean, not least because we seem to be
dealing with a highly complex type of emotion, and thus very potential
ground for a lot of disagreement over the "exact meaning", though I doubt
that there is "exact meaning" even in the first place.
        I do know, though, what "vahingonilo" (cf. Kaisa Launonen's short
message) means in Finnish, and therefore I cannot but wonder what makes
Hartmut Haberland say on Wed, 07 May 1997 08:08:54 +0200:

> In the sense I mean that there was no need for a word meaning
> "schadenfreude" (note the small s) any more, thus letting
> "Schadenfreude" (with big s) take on the new meaning. (Finnish seems to
> travel with German here, which in itself is interesting.)

At least my intuitions about the intersubjectively shared meaning of
"vahingonilo" in Finnish go counter this claim; "vahingonilo" does not
have that "additional" meaning of "moral satisfaction". It is just as
"mean" as e.g. the Danish version.
        So, instead of continuing the discussion by trying to play with
the world's languages and trying to find a language where "Schadenfreude"
can be expressed with only one morpheme - or where "it" cannot be
expressed - I would rather be interested in finding out about the semantic
similarities and *differences* between vahingonilo, skadegla"dje,
skadefryd, leedvermaak, zloradstvo, s^kodolibost, ka'ro"ro"m, comeuppance,
Schadenfreude, and others. (But I do not suggest that analysis should be
performed on this list - simply too big a task.)
        For it is interesting, of course, that so many people seemed to
readily come up with translations in other languages even if they did not
precisely know (and still do not know, I insist) what "Schadenfreude"
means. I think one of the reasons - at least for those languages where the
speakers seemed to notice a calque from German - is that the compounds
in their own languages "looked alike"; the meanings of the parts seemed to
be close, and there existed a similar compound, so we "had to be close" in
the meaning of the whole. I myself thought so, too, when reporting
"vahingonilo" to Ron Kuzar.

To conclude, I wholeheartedly agree with Bert Peeters (Wed, 7 May 1997):

> A little too basic, of course, but from whose point of view? From an Anglo-Saxon
> one, I guess - if such a generalization is permissible. What is it that allows
> us to say that if something is "a little too basic to ignore FOR US" it is going
> to be the same for everyone else? Emotions are a highly language-specific area,
> as recent research (e.g. by Anna Wierzbicka) has painstakingly tried to show.

Jarno Raukko
University of Helsinki

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