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Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition Hardcover – October 31, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
Schott's newest book is unlike his previous efforts in that it has an especially specific focus -- invented German words -- but it's very much like the others in that it's so infernally clever, has been so carefully thought out, and possesses a singularly beautiful design. By going to Mr. Schott's website, benschott dot com, and clicking on The New York Times under the Journalism tab, you can link to an excerpt from the book and listen to him talk about it. There you can also read any of the numerous engaging columns he's written for the newspaper.
"Schottenfreude" is a play on the German word Schadenfreude, which means "shameful joy" or "pleasure derived from the misfortune of others." It's not among the book's 120 indexed entries, but then it's a long-established term that has decisively entered the English language along with such loanwords as Weltanschauung (worldview), Realpolitik (practical politics), Gemütlichkeit (coziness), Wanderlust (desire to travel), Zeitgeist (spirit of the times), Gestalt (whole), and Angst (anxiety). Most of the words in this volume are longer than these examples, some comically so; Kraftfahrzeuginnenaustattungsneugeruchsgenuss, meaning "new car smell," is the longest at 45 letters.Read more ›
My high school German prof, besides requiring that we learn and use the already abandoned Gothic penmanship, always insisted that German was the “sectional bookcase of languages,” namely that one could put together words pretty much ad libitum to come up with new words or at least words more amply descriptive of subject one was discussing. He gave this tongue-twisting example: a single word to amply denominate a “Danube steamship cruise company captain's assistant,” namely a Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänsassistent. Such conjunctivity is certainly the case in Schott’s book. Though his newly-minted nouna are not yet to be found in Duden, their suggested meanings can, I suspect, be more evident to the German ear than the similar English constructions in Wordbirds. There is of course tongue-in-cheek fun-poking here as well, and perhaps cause for a bit of Schadenfreude on the part of the non-German reader whose sauerkraut, lederhosen and herr professor stereotypes are tickled.
Shott’s book differs from Schillinger's in a number of ways. First, no illustrations, no birds.Read more ›
This is a fun little thing, all of about 45 pages (there are no page numbers). But, I didn't whizz through this thing in less than an hour. In all, it took me maybe three hours to read through it, as I soon discovered that there is a lot going on here, lots of thoroughly enjoyable details.
Using "little" above, I meant only in physical dimension. One could call this book "cute" or "fun," even "clever," but that would be a disservice to this profoundly creative and smart work. This is not some cheeky thing like Stuff White People Like, but something profoundly original, smart, and meticulously researched and referenced.
If you have ever studied German--and enjoyed learning and speaking it, this is crucial--you will love this book. If you're a linguist you'll get it. If you're moderately literate, and are comfortable with the use of lebensraum or sturm und drang in a conversation, you'll get it. This isn't German syllables smashed together because they just sound funny (well, Kraftfahrzeugsinnenausstattungsneugeruchsgenuss works pretty well). This is humor for the well-read, funny stuff for whom the toity joke doesn't quite make it anymore. Does that make this intellectual? Well, yeah, kind of. But this book isn't snobbish, not at all.
Even the book's title is a play.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lots of fun for anyone who knows German or just enjoy how they string words together.Published 7 days ago by mndee
I actually wanted this for myself, but ended up buying it as a gift for a fluent German speaker. She loved it and could barely put it down!Published 9 days ago by Stacey Peterson
Hilarious book! However it looks like I received an old display copy. Looked used. Bummer.Published 7 months ago by Kelly L. Quadracci
I think it's kind of funny that this book was rated one star by two different Germans, upset that this book does not reflect German at all. One even called it offensive. Read morePublished 7 months ago by BooksInChicago
Bought this book for family members who are of German heritage, and for a friend learning German. Cute and clever little book, filled with some good laughs.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer