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  • Neil: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute

  • English, I'm Neil. This is

  • the programme where in just

  • six minutes we discuss an interesting

  • topic and teach some

  • related English vocabulary.

  • And joining me to do this is Rob.

  • Rob: Hello.

  • Neil: In this programme we're

  • discussing schadenfreude.

  • Rob: Hold on, Neil - schadenfreude - that's

  • a German word.

  • Neil: Schadenfreude is what we can call a

  • loanword - a word from one language that

  • is used in another language

  • without being changed.

  • Rob: So you're right - schadenfreude is

  • used in English and am I right

  • in thinking it describes

  • the satisfying feeling you get

  • when something bad

  • happens to someone else?

  • Neil: You're right, Rob.

  • Imagine you're in a queue at the

  • supermarket and someone pushes in,

  • but when they got to pay, their credit

  • card doesn't work - think of the feeling

  • you might get just seeing their misfortune

  • - another word for bad luck.

  • Rob: Yes, that is a very satisfying feeling

  • - but it's quite a mean feeling too.

  • Neil: It is but we'll be discussing why that

  • feeling could actually be good for us. But

  • first, let's set a question for you, Rob, and

  • our listeners at home, to answer. This is

  • about false cognates - also called

  • false friends - words that look

  • the same in two languages

  • but have different meanings. So in English

  • we have the word 'rat' but what does that

  • mean in German? Is it... a) a big mouse,

  • b) annoyed or c) advice?

  • Rob: That's tricky because I don't speak

  • German. So I'll guess and say b) annoyed.

  • Neil: Well, I'll have the answer later on.

  • Now, let's talk more about schadenfreude.

  • Enjoying someone's misfortune can

  • certainly make us feel good.

  • Rob: And studies have shown this feeling

  • is quite normal - particularly

  • when is happens to someone we envy.

  • If we see a wealthy celebrity suffering on

  • a reality TV show, or are exposed

  • for not paying their taxes, we feel good.

  • We say they've had their comeuppance.

  • Neil: That's a good word - meaning a

  • person's bad luck that is considered

  • to be deserved punishment for

  • something bad that they have done.

  • Rob: Let's hear from psychologist

  • Wilco Van Dijk from the

  • University of Leiden, who's

  • been talking about this on the

  • BBC Radio 4 programme, All in the Mind.

  • What have his studies found about

  • our enjoyment of others misfortune?

  • Wilco Van Dijk: People especially feel

  • schadenfreude when they think

  • the misfortune is deserved.

  • Then the question is where this joy arises,

  • is this actually joy experienced towards

  • the misfortunes of others or is it

  • also at least partly joy about

  • a just situation - that this

  • misfortune of another actually appeals to

  • a sense of justice. That's also the reason

  • why we like the misfortunes of hypocrites

  • because if they fall down that also is a

  • deserved situation.

  • Neil: OK, so Wilco Van Dijk's studies found

  • we get joy when someone's

  • misfortune is deserved

  • - there is justice - in other words,

  • the punishment someone receives is fair.

  • Rob: And a just situation means

  • a fair situation - it is right.

  • So I guess he's saying we're

  • not just being mean.

  • Neil: Yes. And he also mentioned the type

  • of people whose misfortune is

  • just and deserved,

  • are hypocrites - people who claim to have

  • certain moral beliefs but actually behave

  • in a way that shows they are not sincere.

  • Rob: The All in the Mind programme also

  • heard from another expert

  • on the subject - author

  • and historian of emotions,

  • Dr Tiffany Watt-Smith. She talked about

  • how schadenfreude is a subjective

  • thing - based on our feelings - and it's not

  • as simple as deciding what

  • is right or wrong.

  • What word does she use that

  • means to express sympathy to someone

  • about someone's bad luck?

  • Dr Tiffany Watt-Smith: We don't really

  • experience emotions, you know, as

  • either-or things, it's not black or white.

  • I think it's perfectly reasonable that we

  • could genuinely commiserate

  • with someone else's misfortune

  • at the same time as a terrible sly smile

  • spreading across our lips because,

  • you know, something we've envied about

  • them has turned out not to work

  • out so well or whatever it is. You know,

  • we have a much deeper ability

  • to hold contradictory emotions in mind,

  • much more so than your average

  • moral philosopher would allow.

  • Neil: Interesting stuff. She says when

  • something goes wrong for someone,

  • we have the ability to commiserate with

  • them - that's the word for expressing

  • sympathy to someone about their

  • bad luck.

  • Rob: So overall, Tiffany Watt-Smith thinks

  • we have a range of emotions

  • when we experience

  • schadenfreude - but these are

  • contradictory emotions - different

  • and opposite emotions.

  • Maybe, Neil, we should just be

  • nicer people?

  • Neil: No way! I loved seeing Germany

  • getting knocked out of last year's

  • World Cup - not really!

  • Talking of Germany, earlier we mentioned

  • false friends and I asked in English we

  • have the word 'rat' but what does

  • that mean in German? Is it...

  • a) a big mouse, b) annoyed,

  • c) advice? And Rob, you said...

  • Rob: I said b) annoyed.

  • Neil: And that is the wrong answer,

  • I'm afraid. The right answer is c) advice.

  • Well done if you knew that at home.

  • Now on to the vocabulary we looked at

  • in this programme.

  • Rob: So today we've been talking

  • about schadenfreude - that describes

  • the satisfying feeling you get when

  • something bad happens to someone else.

  • Neil: And that's an example of a loanword

  • - a word from one language that is used in

  • another language without being changed.

  • In this case German.

  • Rob: We mentioned comeuppance which

  • describes a person's misfortune

  • that is considered to be deserved

  • punishment for something bad

  • that they've done.

  • Neil: Next we mentioned justice - that's

  • the punishment someone receives

  • that is fair for what they've done.

  • And the word just describes

  • something that is fair and right.

  • Rob: Hypocrites are people who claim to

  • have certain moral beliefs

  • but actually behave

  • in a way that shows they are not sincere.

  • Neil: And finally commiserate is a word

  • that means expressing

  • sympathy to someone about

  • their bad luck. That's the verb.

  • The noun form is commiseration.

  • Rob: Well commiserations, Neil, we've

  • run out of time for this programme.

  • See you soon,

  • goodbye.

  • Neil: Goodbye!

Neil: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute

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A2 rob misfortune deserved bad luck programme german

Are there benefits to schadenfreude? Listen to 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/07/01
Video vocabulary