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Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition

Ben Schott

Ever thought, ‘There should be a German word for that’? Well, now there is.

From the mind that created Schott’s Original Miscellany comes a unique volume exploring the idiosyncrasies of the human condition…auf Deutsch.

In which language but German could you construct le mot juste for: a secret love of bad food, the inability to remember jokes, Sunday-afternoon depression, the urge to yawn, the glee of gossip, reassuring your hairdresser, delight at the changing of the seasons, the urge to hoard, or the ineffable pleasure of a cold pillow?

Media highlights

New York Times podcast
Mashable interview
ABC RN Sunday Extra interview
ABC 702 Sydney interview
Radio NZ interview

Ben Schott
About the Author

Ben Schott is the author of Schott’s Original Miscellany, Schott’s Food & Drink Miscellany, Schott’s Sporting, Gaming & Idling Miscellany, Schott’s Quintessential Miscellany and the yearbook Schott’s Almanac (2006–11). Ben is a regular contributor to the New York Times and The Times. He divides his time between London and New York.

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Text publication date:
23 October 2013
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Praise for Ben Schott

‘Hugely inventive… Pleasantly pre-Web—a self-enclosed thing that rewards another, older kind of multitasking: reading, laughing, and learning.’

‘The Germans, thanks to Schott, now have the word Wohlverpackunsfreude, or the delight of a perfectly wrapped parcel. And that, in a word, is Schottenfreude.’

‘Ben Schott has a knack of entertaining us with facts for a number of decades now. But Schottenfreude could outdo all his previous sales…It is inevitable that words like leertretung (stepping down heavily on a stair that is not there / “void stepping”) will be bellowed over the turkey carcass-strewn table of thousands of households this Christmas.‘

‘Use this to learn a (made-up) German word every day. Because we need more speichelgleichmuf (pretending you haven’t been accidentally spat on in conversation) in our vernacular, don’t you think?’

‘Perfectly tailored.’

‘Immediately fascinating, amusing and enlightening.’

‘Presented with Schott’s usual combination of far-flung research and droll humour.’

‘Schott presents layer upon layer of sharply curated knowledge, which you can peruse as deeply or flippantly as you like…a bespoke encyclopaedia on topics from ancient philosophy to contemporary literature: it’s bitty in size, but meaty in thought.’