In his Notebook # 14 written from November 1877 – July 1878, Mark Twain has several references to the trials and tribulations he endures while learning German. He claims that the person who invented the German language was “… some sufferer who had to sit up with a toothache.” Nevertheless, the language enlightens Twain to the purpose of eternity. He writes, “ eternity was made … to give some of us a chance to learn German.” Though I have not been immune to similar stints of exasperation in tackling this challenging language, I have enjoyed becoming acquainted with a language exceptionally apt in combining words in such a way as to render a new term particularly adept in describing various ills and afflictions.
In German, Frühlingsmüdigkeit – Spring tiredness – could be gnawing at your ribs – particularly if you’ve been slaving too long for a Hungerlohn – a hunger income (wage so low it keeps you hungry). But things could be far more dire. Young couples might be struck by Eifersucht – fanatic addiction (jealousy). Unmarried women in their late twenties, for example, are prone to attacks of Torschlusspanik – the fear of being left on the shelf – to the Schadenfreude of all their married female co-workers.
But guys are not immune either.
European students and artists who hang out in the cafes by day and pubs by night are particularly predisposed to bouts of Weltschmerz – world pain (a gloomy, romanticized state of suffering along with the pain of the world). Oh what a Katzenjammer – cat wail – (depressing state) life can be when all loss of Lebenslust – life desire (happiness and joy of life) drags you down. Those too Lebensmüde “life tired” help support Austria’s suicide rate by electing a Freitod – free death – and plunging into the Danube. They join the hundreds of Viennese who are eternally resting in their Holzpyjama “wooden pjs” looking at the potatoes from underneath in the Friedhof der Namenlosen “The Peace Courtyard of the Nameless.” (Cemetery of the Unknowns).
Personally, I seem to suffer from a chronic case of Fernweh – distance pain – (longing to travel some place far away).
What’s your ailment?
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Information on and Map to the Friedhof der Namenlosen in Vienna
More Words of the Week
Beuschlreißer: Lung Ripper
Blechtrottel: Tin Idiot
Eifersucht, Frühlingsmüdigkeit, Hungerlohn, Torschlusspanik, Schadenfreude, Weltschmerz, Katzenjammer, Freitod, Holzpyjama, Lebensmüde, Fernweh
Fetzenschädel: Rags Skull
Geistesvernichtungsanstalt: Spirit Annihilation Asylum
Häuslpapierfladerer: House Paper Thief
Krautwacher: Cabbage Guard
Putzgretl: Cleaning Gretl
Saubär: Pig Bear
Treppenwitz: Stair Joke