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Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition Hardcover – October 31, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Hugely inventive… Pleasantly pre-Web—a self-enclosed thing that rewards another, older kind of multitasking: reading, laughing, and learning.” – The New Yorker

“Perfectly tailored.” – The New Republic

“Elegant [and] illuminating."  – Wired  

“Genius.” – Real Simple

"[A] work of brilliance."--The Times (London)

 

About the Author

Ben Schott is the creator and designer of the international bestseller Schott’s Original Miscellany and its three sequels. He also wrote the news annual Schott’s Almanac (2006–2011). Together his books have sold some 2.5 million copies, in twenty one languages (including Japanese and Braille). Schott is a contributing columnist to the op-ed pages of The New York Times and a regular contributor to The Times of London. He divides his time between New York and London.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press; Bilingual edition (October 31, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039916670X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399166709
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.6 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas E. Davis VINE VOICE on November 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every book by Ben Schott is a meticulous masterpiece of conception and execution. He's best known for his delightful series of four Miscellanies (Schott's Original Miscellany, Schott's Food & Drink Miscellany, Schott's Sporting, Gaming & Idling Miscellany, and Schott's Quintessential Miscellany) and for his six Almanacs, published annually between 2006 and 2011.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ach Du Lieber! What an amazing collection of German words created by the incredible Ben Schott! From the 47 letter German word for "New car smell," to nine letter term for "The exhausting pressure of being a good houseguest," this book is a must have for anyone who has ever studied German, comes from a German heritage, or just loves the magic and power of words. The beautifully designed and bound hardcover book is in a format reminiscent of an old-fashioned photo album or autograph book is an Einartigesbuchliebhabersgeschenk--(one-of-a-kind-booklovers gift.)
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Format: Hardcover
Recently I did a review of Liesl Schillinger’s Wordbirds: An Irreverent Lexicon for the 21st Century, an attempt to name things for which there should be a word but there isn't. I noted that the book was tongue-in-cheek, but it raised a point about the importance of word creation in the development of culture and its relationship to language. Now, for the passionate polyglot there is a similar work for fehlende Wortschatz in German. Even the title of the book is a play on words, replacing the “damages” in Schadenfreude (taking delight in others’ misfortunes) with perhaps similar delight in potential damages done to the German language by this text.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Never knew of the existence of this book or its author until this arrived as a Christmas present. Another perfect choice--thanks, Pat. This is my first Ben Schott book but definitely will not be my last; I'm already picking out the Schott books to put on my wish list.

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.
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