Two of the most colourful words adapted from the German language to English are ‘schadenfreude’ and ‘doppelganger’.
These words, aside from their definitions, have a couple of interesting facets going for them.
They’re both multisyllabic and tricky to pronounce. Enunciating them without tripping over syllables exhibits good training of facial muscles.
Their meanings, especially the former, are widely unfamiliar – so knowing them adds breadth to one’s vocabulary.
They also have a somewhat murky onomatopoeia ambiance in their sound, only embellished by their meaning.
Let’s consider the meanings:
- ‘schadenfreude’ refers to taking joy or relief from someone else’s perceived misfortune
- ‘doppelganger’ refers to an apparition or double of a living person
The possibilities conveyed by each in isolation may well be disturbing. More evocative are images of them set loose without boundaries…
What if a doppelganger runs afoul of the law, but the living person is blamed and charged, generating in the doppelganger a feeling of schadenfreude?
What if a spouse’s doppelganger creates strife in the person’s marriage, causing a jealous ex-lover to feel hope and schadenfreude?
What if a doppelganger takes over a successful business – and then it falls upon hard times – does the doppelganger get a mulligan from schadenfreude?
What if schadenfreude means attention is shifted in favour of the doppelganger – who then generates additional schadenfreude – does the original schadenfreude still count?
What if the schadenfreude develops its own doppelganger?
A little version of Esperanto can be a Pandora’s Box of possibility.
Leave a Reply