Mind Your Language

Language, according to William S Burroughs, is a virus from outer space. I was musing upon this thought recently after a conversation with Brit in California, when, serendipitously, my iPod whilst on shuffle play, threw up the Laurie Anderson song of the same name from her “Home of the Brave” CD.

The word that Brit and I had been discussing was “schadenfreude”, a German word which is usually taken to mean “delight in the misfortunes of others”, in this case, politicians and media whores. There is an entire class of foreign words which don’t have direct English equivalents but which perfectly encapsulate some thought, feeling or action. Another such word that Brit introduced me to is “saudades”, a Portuguese word meaning “longing for something lost, but which is unlikely to return”.

Another word I like, is another German word, “weltsmertz” meaning “Sadness at the State of the World”. Some years ago, the BBC broadcast a radio documentary entitled “Waltsmertz” about Walt Disney. In it, the theory was expounded that through his films and theme parks, Walt was expressing some weltsmertz. I think I would have preferred the term “Waltschmaltz”, but without reference to rendered goose fat.

~ by @mmonyte on March 20, 2008.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: