The Joy Of Words

You may know that the German word “schadenfreude” means a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people, but did you also know that the German word “vorfreude” means the joy you feel when thinking about good things that are going to happen?

Isn’t that a much better way to spend your time?

I learned that from “Water Cooler Ammo,” a 5-days a week blog from Mental Floss (www.MentalFloss.com) where in a recent post, John Green rattled off 48 unusual words. (See it here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/52660/48-things-you-didnt-know-had-names) Among my favorites:

  • 37188903[1]Dysania means having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. (Tell your doctor that and see if he/she knows what you’re talking about.)
  • On a happier note, apricity means feeling the warmth of the sun on a cold day
  • Petrichor is the wonderful smell of rain
  • Semordnilap – which you may have noticed is “palindromes” spelled backwards, refers to any word that spells a common word either backward or forward. There are quite a few in English (parts, stop, repaid), but my favorite is stressed: Turn it around and you’ve turned it into desserts.

There are other words that need a foreign translation to make them better. In English we say “tip-of-the-tongue syndrome,” a phrase lacking in elegance and more in line with the frustration we often feel when experiencing it. In Korean it’s “hyeu kkedu-te mam-dol-da,” which translates as “sparkling at the end of my tongue.”Isn’t that much more satisfying? Wouldn’t you rather substitute sparkling for a syndrome?

Consider what other words in life can be changed from ones with negative associations to ones that sparkle with good feeling.  Share your ideas in comments and watch for a follow-up blog . . .

This tidbit comes from Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better by Clive Thompson, which uses the Korean phrase to illustrate the multi-cultural experience of the phenomenon.

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