Enrique Figueroa E. efiguero at CAPOMO.USON.MX
Wed May 7 09:05:05 UTC 1997

The matter is quite interesting. It would be good to have the opinions of
more Germans and also of colleagues who are NS of other languages, the
Slavic and Finnish, for example. It would also be good to compare their
answers with those of NS of languages that do not have the compound, but
a phrase (as Spanish, in which, I consider, being an NS of it, there is
no banana-peel component).
In languages such as Sp, perhaps, the "S/he had it coming" component
corresponds to entirely different phrasings.
Another very interesting question you have posed is this: has the culture
changed? do such words lose everything but their litteral meaning when

On Wed, 7 May 1997, Hartmut Haberland wrote:

> | One point I'd very much like to see straightened here: does or does not
> | SCHADENFRA¨UDE necessarily imply or carry with itself the "righteousness"
> | some of the commentators have introduced?
> | I think not. Whether you think the person deserved it or not, however
> | usual the case may be, I dare say it is irrelevant to the meaning of the
> | word. It could as well refer to a very mean person.
> | ME
> |
> Well, so far we only have the judgment of two three native or near-native
> speakers on the list that this is the case. Since I am one of them, I uphold the view
> unless somebody shows me that I'm wrong. I have discussed the matter with
> other native speakers as well, and what usually happens is that the give
> you a dictionary definition ("pleasure stemming from others' misfortune"),
> then you give them some examples and ask, "Is this Schadenfreude?" and
> then they say "not really", and the finally come up with this
> "righteousness" or "satisfaction" component in the definition (or what
> Deborah Ruuskanen calls the "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" emotion, i.e. what
> children express when they makes those familiar and, as I gather, culturally
> very wide-spread (I didn't say universal) sounds). The interesting thing is
> that this component which I think is essential in German either is a newer
> development, or has got lost in the process of calquing the word in other
> languages. Is this because calques or loan-translations always tend to be
> very literal? Or because German culture has changd since the times the word
> was borrowed, restricting not the range of available emotions, but the range
> of expressible emotions (in a socially acceptable way expressible, I mean)?
> 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.)
> For those who didn't follow all this, I'd like to refer back to Deborah's
> banana peel example which in my opinion covers best what Schadenfreude
> means. Note that if a car overtakes you at 250 kms/h (155 mph) on a German
> motorway, and you see it crashed against a tree a few kilometers down the
> road, then (my informants agree) you don't feel Schadenfreude, since the
> "punishment" is just out of proportion. But if you see the car stopped by
> the police, Schadenfreude seems to describe what you would feel.
> Hartmut Haberland

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