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Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human…

Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition

by Ben Schott

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805150,606 (4.36)1



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Hilarious. A little German goes a long way. ( )
  PhilipJHunt | Jan 2, 2015 |
Absolutely delightful! I have so much fun with this book! ( )
  eslee | Oct 17, 2014 |
Entertaining book, but I have my doubts as to the actual validity of some of the word entries. I have seen post from Germans saying “I have never heard of this word.” Still they are good.
Favorites are Buchadlerauge – Book Eagle Eye - which means you remember where every book is on which self and Deppenfahrerbeäugung – Moron Drive Eyeballing - which is supposed to mean the urge to stare at the idiot driver you have just passed. ( )
  will5352 | Jun 19, 2014 |
I love Ben Schott's books because they are the perfect antidote to the assault on the senses that one faces everyday in the modern world - yet fit in perfectly with the reduced attention spans that accompany it. The format, the font and even the subject matter may take you back to a different time - yet you can read a page or two (possibly while multi-tasking!), and come away amused and refreshed. Ben Schott loves language, and this book shows that so clearly. It is clever and funny, and many of the German words (made-up, if I am not mistaken) do indeed express sentiments and feelings that I - we - have felt at some time or another. ( )
  chapeauchin | Feb 22, 2014 |
Where Conlanging Meets Precision German Engineering

Here is a rare combination: a book that appeals to word lovers and language freaks, to book design geeks and typography nerds, and to trivia buffs and other assorted aficionados of miscellanea.

The book itself is wonderful as a purely physical artifact. The wide landscape format is unusual, but unlike other books where the format can be annoying, here it works well with the content—facing pages of pseudo-German words across from what amounts to extended footnotes discussing them. The blackletter font used for the German words is decidedly Germanic, but also reasonably readable. That and the stylistic ligatures (notable st and ct) and dark red ink used for definitions give the book that “old tome feel”.

The German words themselves (and of course their definitions for those of us whose German is rusty or nonexistent) are quite amusing. The whole enterprise is reminiscent of Rich Hall’s Sniglets from the 80s and 90s, but considerably more grown up—though there are plenty of adolescent gags in the book, too, like Stuhlgangsgenuss, “the private enjoyment of your own unsavory bodily functions”, glossed as “POO(P)LEASURE”.

There seems to be some confusion over the authenticity of the words. It’s clear that Schott has created these words (with the oversight of native German speaker Oscar Bandtlow), but some reviews seem to imply that these are words in common use among Germans. They are not—for example, the only references to Kraftfahrzeuginnenaustattungsneugeruchsgenuss, “new car smell”, on the web are reviews of this book. Nonetheless, these words are—given the compounding capabilities of German that brought us the completely legitimate Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz—entirely plausible.

As a linguist and fan of lexicography, I have a few specific nerdy nits to pick. My least favorite entry in the book is Zwillingsmoral, “Reading horoscopes you don’t believe in,” glossed as “GEMINI-STANDARD”. A footnote explains the etymology: Zwillinge (“twins”, or “Gemini”) + Doppelmoral (“double standard”). The concept and the word go well together, and the play on double and twin is great. However...

My biggest objection is that this noun is glossed with a verb phrase. Slightly better would be “The act of reading...”. Even then, the definition doesn’t match the meaning of the root of the compound, which is moral. The word thus refers to some kind of morals or standards, as in “A double standard that allows you to read horoscopes you don’t believe in.” It’s a nerdy nit to pick, as I said.

And my final objection to Zwillingsmoral is that it seems to exist in German, with a much more prosaic meaning, similar, as best I can tell, to Doppelmoral—namely, “hypocrisy”. Of course, if you aren’t as much of a word-nerd as me, then these things won’t bother you, because the intent of the words and their meanings are clear, even if their parts of speech are ill-fitting or their forms recycled.

The best part of the book, in my opinion, are the notes that accompany most entries. They comprise a mini Schott’s Miscellany, and range widely in time (quoting Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the original Middle English and a 2012 book from neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran), broadly in place (referencing traditional Japanese decorative mizuhiki cords and the Bermuda Triangle), and almost erratically in topic and tone (with a note that begins on the subject of looking into the fridge for a snack then veers through Eminem’s home life before crashing into messages scrawled in blood at the scene of the Manson Family murders). It’s loads of fun, and occasionally quite surprising.

This is a book probably best taken in small, pleasant doses, and I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of German, loves word-nerd silliness, or takes pleasure in rambling, unexpected trivia.

For a preview of the book, check out http://bit.ly/TJSchott—there you can sample the format and design of the book, and find a bonus audio recording. ( )
3 vote TreyJones | Nov 17, 2013 |
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"The German language is sufficiently copious and productive, to furnish native words for any idea that can be expressed at all."
Charles Follen, A Practical Grammar of the German Language (Hilliard, Gray, 1835), 170
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 039916670X, Hardcover)

From bestselling author and New York Times columnist Ben Schott comes an entertaining and much-needed German dictionary for the human condition, a gift book for wordsmiths and Deutschophiles alike.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:35 -0400)

"From bestselling author and New York Times columnist Ben Schott comes an entertaining and much-needed German dictionary for the human condition, a gift book for wordsmiths and Deutschophiles alike"-- "A humorous gift book in the style of a German dictionary, including new German words coined by the author"--… (more)

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