Sunday, February 12, 2006

Schadenfreude ist die beste Freude

scha·den·freu·de ( P ) Pronunciation Key (shädn-froid) n.

Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

[German : Schaden, damage (from Middle High German schade, from Old High German scado) + Freude, joy (from Middle High German vreude, from Old High German frewida, from fr, happy).]

Another word which I think English suffers from lack thereof.

Picture this: Winter Olympics. Ladies moguls.

Kari Traa of Norway finished a great run: style, technique, a few fancy flips. The judges baby. She whips off her ski´s in time to get the advertising on the bottom of each into frame before the scores are announced. 25.65! Top of the heap! 1st Place. Exhuberant she runs to the place-getters bench, hugs, smiles and laughs at all already sitting there and shuffles the currently third place-getter off on to the ground as she takes her rightful place in first.

Aiko Uemura of Japan makes her run. Again a fantastic run that the judges award with a 24.01. Traa jumps up and down, hugs her and pats her into second place, confident in the gold position.

Sara Kjellin of Sweden make a great run, awarded 24.74 and second place. A jubilant Traa greets her on the place-getters bench. Hey we´re all Scandinavian here, it´s a win for all of us, right?

Sandra Laoura of France heads down the slope. Good technique, nice freestyle. With a 25.37 she was close to gold, but no banana. Once again Traa jumps up and down in excitement, beaming from ear to ear. She hugs all and grins at Uemura who has now been pushed down to fourth and must give up her spot on the bench. Uemura returns a brief, watery smile before trudging off.

Final contestant, the Canadian Jennifer Heil is down the slope with a wonderful run, knees bouncing, perfect heli. For a brief moment the judges concur. 26.50! Gold for Canada! At the place-getters bench there are hugs all round.

But wait, what´s this? Our bubbly Norwegian isn´t smiling! How can this be? She was so GENUINELY happy for the great runs of all the other contestants! Could it have she perhaps just....possibly...taking part in...a little bit of Schadenfreude?

1 comment:

Our man in Tokyo said...

Actually 'schadenfreude', like 'zeitgeist', is a loan-word in English. By the way, did you know that one of the the Japanese words for sleeping bag is 'シュラーフザック' or 'schlafsack'?