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Five Lessons: Foreign Words
Monday, 2009 August 17 - 10:01 pm
Today's lesson: five cool foreign words or phrases that you can work into your everyday vocabulary.

1. Schadenfreude. I've mentioned before that this is one of my favorite words. It's German for "taking delight in someone else's misery". It's pronounced "SHAH-den-froy-duh". German has a whole bunch of great words to choose from... a close runner-up here was Kummerspeck ("KOO-mer-shpeck", literally "grief bacon"), which means "the weight you gain due to eating out of depression".

2. Schlemiel and schlimazl. You might know these words from the "Laverne and Shirley" theme song. A schlemiel is a bungler who, due to a fault in his character, causes bad things to happen around him. A schlimazl is a person who is chronically unlucky. The two words are frequently paired, like yin and yang. The classic explanation is that the schlemiel is the person who spills the soup, and the schlimazl is the one on whom it lands. These words come from Yiddish, and are pronounced "shle-MEEL" and "shli-MAH-zul".

3. Bakku-shan. This Japanese word means "a woman who looks pretty from behind but not the front". Terribly sexist but terribly funny too. It's pronounced "BAHK'-koo-shan".

4. Plaatsvervangende schaamte. This is a Dutch phrase for "place-exchanging shame"; it's the vicarious shame you feel when you see someone else embarrassing himself, like any time you watch Glenn Beck say anything, ever. My Dutch is a little rusty (that's what she said) but if it's anything like German, it's pronounced "plahtz-fair-fahn-GEHN-deh SHAHM-teh".

5. Attacabotoni. This Italian word (literally "attack of buttons") means "someone who 'buttonholes' people with boring, pointless stories". I'm sure you've got one or two at your office. The pronunciation should be "ah-TAH-cah-boh-TOH-nee".
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Posted by Ken in: interesting

Comments

Comment #1 from Susan (Guest)
2009 Aug 27 - 8:41 pm : #
So if there is a word for eating out of depression do you suppose there is another word for not eating out of depression?

I also find the meaning behind the Japanese word amusing. But I'm kinda' mean like that sometimes. ;-)

And finally - why are Dutch words so long? I really! Great design but their linguistics are murder!

(Oh and hey - how are you doing?)
Comment #2 from Susan (Guest)
2009 Aug 27 - 8:42 pm : #
oops type in my comment about words... how embarrassing!

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