I don’t actually speak German. (I can argue passably well with cab drivers in one and a half languages other than English, but none of them are German.) However, I’ve long been fascinated by the plasticity and dogged logic of the language – to get to any complex word, you can seemingly jam several words together. The result is often inelegant but comprehensible, and sometimes quite funny. It’s basically the Lego set of languages. (Mark Twain, of all people, has quite a bit to say about this.)

The other thing that fascinates me is the German ability to express a very specific emotion into a single word. (Given that this is the language of Freud, you can see why they got good at this.) Schadenfreude is but one example.

Thus I have developed inventing new, fake German words into a bit of a hobby. (Yes, my other hobbies are equally nerdy. Try quiz shows, telemark skiing and fencing.) Since schadenfreude – taking actual joy in the misfortune of others – always struck me as a bit mean, we came up with schadentingle … not actually joy, per se, but merely a warm fuzzy feeling at a minor setback.

I will get in trouble for this next one, but a few months ago, after one or two beers, I did point to a tiny dog in a small sweater on the street and whisper, “Eine kleine schnackenhunde!” … that is, a little-bitty bite-sized dog. (I have now lost every vegan, PETA-belonging, or dog-loving reader of this blog. Apologies.)

The other day my partner and I blundered in to a melting snowbank with our car while trying to get into a parking lot to go backcountry skiing. While waiting for the tow truck to rescue us, we observed three other people examine our car and then perform exactly the same maneuver.

This got us seeking a word to describe taking solace in watching someone pull the exact same dumbass maneuver you have just completed.  Imitate? Stupid/dumb/idiotic? Joy/comfort/Solace? …… Got it: doppeldoofenfreude, or “double-dummy-joy”.

So, I am now taking nominations for neosyllogisms that will help us to better articulate, and cope with, the zeitgeist (ooh, there’s another one) of climate change.

We need a word for the moment when someone first gets, really gets the math behind the problem on a visceral level and realizes the magnitude of what we need to accomplish. Or the glimmer of hope and excitement in response to a really good new idea .. or the frustration of trying to communicate a really complex and largely invisible phenomenon like climate change to a skeptic, and falling short. Or the moment in which a child or nephew is born and the fate of the next generation suddenly switches from being an abstract mission or slogan to a terrifying, gut-wrenching reality.

Come to think of it, doppeldoofenangst might pretty much cover it … the dread of watching someone make the same mistake you have been making for decades.

But I’m beginning to look at the merits of Ruckendoofenfreude, or  “reverse-dummy-joy”.  The family in the minivan that peered out the window, saw us stuck in the snowbank, and navigated around the slush into a parking spot without incident.

Or the fact that the Chinese government has set higher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles than our own and is very likely preparing to trounce us in the alternative energy space.

It’s not full-on freude, but maybe it’s in the right direction.  And maybe we’ll get our asses in gear and start to doppel the right stuff.


1 Response to “Doppeldoofenfreude!”

  1. 1 Ye Olde Pedagogue April 3, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I think we may safely infer that the planet, environment-wise, is totally upgefucken. How to dis-upgefucken it I leave to the younger generation to solve.

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