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Marion Jenis

Word Play in German

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Marion Jenis

I wrote a few poems in the English language years ago, but they were not very good. But the attempt to write a poem led me to treat language as though it were music---I am sure that this is a common experience for aspiring poets. Language becomes music when we are sensitive to rhythm, to hardness, to softness, and to connotations as well as denotations. I do not actually speak German, but after one year of study I became sensitive to its particular musical nature. Call it poetic arrogance but I would like to replace a German word that means something very important to me with another word that I myself have created. In case you are not familiar with the rules of German, it is possible to do this, and some philosophers are notorious for the words they have devised.

The German language is the only one I know that has a word meaning “world sorrow”. The fact that there is a German word for it provides us with a clue that world sorrow is important in German culture, either in art or in philosophy or in both. Actually German poetry as a rule tends to combine art and philosophy, which must be why poets in the German language are called “Dichter”---a word that we might (very literally) translate as “dictum sayers” or “maxim sayers”

“World sorrow” seems to be a leitmotif of German philosophy, music, and literature. The German word for it is “Weltschmerz”. This word seems inadequate for the task it must do, for I shall apply it not only to Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Brahms, and Mahler but to Siddhartha Buddha. Then I will be able to compare Nietzsche’s Affirmation of Life to the Buddha’s Withdrawal from Life. It should be understood that Friedrich Nietzsche never said that “Life is good” or “Life is beautiful”. The vision of life that he offered in his theory of the Eternal Recurrence actually resembles a nightmare. We must clearly see that life is often nightmarish before we can say to the Buddha, “It is not necessary to blow out the candle”---for that is what Nirvana literally means. 

My version of the Eternal Recurrence differs from Nietzsche’s in one point. I shall speak of that in a moment. First I wish to replace the word “Weltschmerz” with another that does not remind me of feigned Viennese emotions, as though we were discussing operettas. My new word is “Welttrauer”. The Google translator let me know that it might be better as two words, “Welt Trauer”. It literally means “world grief” or “world mourning” or (just like Weltschmerz) world sorrow. And now I may call the German language to my side to help me to appreciate Prince Siddhartha’s experience the day he left the palace. Welt Trauer was his Grundverständnis or fundamental vision (that is to say, a paradigm shift) when he saw sickness multiplied in his mind by millions or hundreds of millions of times, with old age and death a universal inevitability.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s vision of the Eternal Recurrence is truly nightmarish and the Life that he described this way does not win my allegiance. The mistake he made was to think that the recurrence is always absolutely the same. I say that it is never the same, for moment by moment we are presented with choice. The choices we make are free even though the moment appears to occur within a cycle. The appearance of a return to a past moment occurs as a result of innumerable random number generators acting together. The moment is as free as Jean-Paul Sartre assured us that it is. 

Only in a life of freedom can the Affirmation of Life be meaningful, and the Will to Power is meaningful only when volition is real. Nietzsche could have caught that point, but I think he was preoccupied by his sadness and sense of disappointment only one year after his affair with Lou Salome.

Maybe a good, clean, strong word for the World Sorrow might have helped him. When we call our sadness “grief” or “mourning” we begin to weep and we pass through grief to what I might call a “dark peace”---the peace that we feel after a funeral. After the funeral that mourns for our disappointed desires we come to a mental clarity that sees the choice: World Affirmation or World Rejection. If the fundamental vision has the truth of Welt Trauer both choices are valid because both are completely realistic. And the “dark peace”? Perhaps we need a German word for that---such as “Traurigerfrieden”. 

Below: Louise von Salome (Lou Salome) was the only woman who could have married Friedrich Nietzsche.

salome_nietzsche1.jpg

Edited by Marion Jenis

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Podo

It's cool that you're having a good time with my language! Not many people would consider German to be a very poetic language, but it definitely is. However, I must point out that while you are right that Dichter means poet in English, I would say that the direct translation is closer to "one who dictates" rather than "maxim sayers." It is someone who speaks, but the word contains no connotations as to what they say beyond poetry. It's like how the German word Denker is "philosopher" in English, but the direct translation is "thinker." You can look deeply at it and spin it to me "One who thinks deep thoughts" or something like that, but it's more accurate just to translate it as "thinker;" so too is it more accurate for Dichter to be "speaker."

As for the creation of words, English can do that too, it just lacks a word for it. Wortwurm (word-worm) is what it is called in German. I like that you have made your own words, German is great for that, but I'm curious as to why you think that you can't do the same thing in English, especially considering that "Weltschmerz" is as much of a word as "worldsorrow" is in English, since the direct translation of Weltschmerz is Welt (world) + Schmerz (pain).

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Piney
16 hours ago, Marion Jenis said:

“World sorrow” seems to be a leitmotif of German philosophy, music, and literature. The German word for it is “Weltschmerz”. This word seems inadequate for the task it must do, for I shall apply it not only to Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Brahms, and Mahler but to Siddhartha Buddha. Then I will be able to compare Nietzsche’s Affirmation of Life to the Buddha’s Withdrawal from Life. It should be understood that Friedrich Nietzsche never said that “Life is good” or “Life is beautiful”. The vision of life that he offered in his theory of the Eternal Recurrence actually resembles a nightmare. We must clearly see that life is often nightmarish before we can say to the Buddha, “It is not necessary to blow out the candle”---for that is what Nirvana literally means. 

Your trying to mix water and oil here. Social Darwinism and Buddhism?????

I'll ask again.

Do you speak any Asian or Middle Eastern languages?

Taakh Taa'kii yengii? 

Wakaramasu gaijin? 

Because if you can't speak the language. You certainly can't understand the spirituality or philosophy of a people.....

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Orphalesion

I'll join Piney and am gonna ask whether you speak German.

18 hours ago, Marion Jenis said:

 “Dichter”---a word that we might (very literally) translate as “dictum sayers” or “maxim sayers”

Nope. Dichter, literally means poet. It's believed to derive from Old High German "tihtōn" (to shape something with words/create something with words) and Middle High German "tichten" (to create, invent, make up). In German literature you can be pedantic and say that both "Poesie" and "Dichtung" exist and if you say so, "Dichtung" is actually the one that has the higher emphasis on the creation of something pleasing, skillful and beautiful, but artificial that allows people to indulge in fantasies and emotion. It has the emphasis on art and artifice.
It's has nothing to do with claiming the authority of a maxim. You are confusing 19th century Romantic Poets (which is when the words Dichter and Dichtung came into fashion and started to replace Poet and Poesie) with Homer and Hesiod.
If you wanted a "fancy" English word for "Dichter" it'd be "word smith" Which is still an unnecessary fanciful translation, since poet is the actual meaning.
 

Quote

“World sorrow” seems to be a leitmotif of German philosophy, music, and literature.

Just going on a gander here....but might that be because it's a central theme in global human culture? Due to pain, suffering and sorrow being fundamental parts of human nature?

 Weltschmerz, if you insist on using that word, when melancholy is really just as good, is a central theme in (dark) Romanticism and was first used to describe the dark moods of Lord Byron. Romanticism was obsessed with any form of strong and deep emotion of every kind.
Another work of the German Romantic period was the "Ode to Joy" by Friedrich Schiller (also known as the chorus of Beethoven's 9th) a cheerful poem about how the emotion of joy is the fundamental driving force in the universe.

So please don't go and reduce a whole culture's output to a loanword, thank you.    

Quote

My new word is “Welttrauer”. The Google translator let me know that it might be better as two words, “Welt Trauer”. It literally means “world grief” or “world mourning” or (just like Weltschmerz) world sorrow.

Seriously? Google Translate? First of all, as a Native German speaker, I can tell you that, if "Welttrauer" was an actual German word, it would be spelled as one word "Welttrauer" Google translate tells you to spell it as two words because it doesn't actually exist. it also doesn't really need to exist, since Weltschmerz and a supposed Welttrauer both basically equal to melancholy.
 

Quote

“Traurigerfrieden”. 

You can't combine an adjective "traurig" with a noun "Frieden" so it'd be "trauriger Frieden". "Trauerfrieden" wouldn't really work, since that would bring in mind something else entirely.

Edited by Orphalesion
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Podo
17 hours ago, Piney said:

Your trying to mix water and oil here. Social Darwinism and Buddhism?????

I'll ask again.

Do you speak any Asian or Middle Eastern languages?

Taakh Taa'kii yengii? 

Wakaramasu gaijin? 

Because if you can't speak the language. You certainly can't understand the spirituality or philosophy of a people.....

I can speak fluent Mandarin and (Low)German, and my Japanese is not half-bad. Speaking these languages isn't always enough to understand a culture! I was in Asia for years and I still get confused sometimes :lol: So I agree, if you don't speak them, then there's zero hope to fully understand another culture. Language opens the door, but you have to actually walk through that door to get the full picture. 

Edited by Podo

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Podo
15 hours ago, Orphalesion said:

I'll join Piney and am gonna ask whether you speak German.

Nope. Dichter, literally means poet. It's believed to derive from Old High German "tihtōn" (to shape something with words/create something with words) and Middle High German "tichten" (to create, invent, make up). In German literature you can be pedantic and say that both "Poesie" and "Dichtung" exist and if you say so, "Dichtung" is actually the one that has the higher emphasis on the creation of something pleasing, skillful and beautiful, but artificial that allows people to indulge in fantasies and emotion. It has the emphasis on art and artifice.
It's has nothing to do with claiming the authority of a maxim. You are confusing 19th century Romantic Poets (which is when the words Dichter and Dichtung came into fashion and started to replace Poet and Poesie) with Homer and Hesiod.
If you wanted a "fancy" English word for "Dichter" it'd be "word smith" Which is still an unnecessary fanciful translation, since poet is the actual meaning.
 

Just going on a gander here....but might that be because it's a central theme in global human culture? Due to pain, suffering and sorrow being fundamental parts of human nature?

 Weltschmerz, if you insist on using that word, when melancholy is really just as good, is a central theme in (dark) Romanticism and was first used to describe the dark moods of Lord Byron. Romanticism was obsessed with any form of strong and deep emotion of every kind.
Another work of the German Romantic period was the "Ode to Joy" by Friedrich Schiller (also known as the chorus of Beethoven's 9th) a cheerful poem about how the emotion of joy is the fundamental driving force in the universe.

So please don't go and reduce a whole culture's output to a loanword, thank you.    

Seriously? Google Translate? First of all, as a Native German speaker, I can tell you that, if "Welttrauer" was an actual German word, it would be spelled as one word "Welttrauer" Google translate tells you to spell it as two words because it doesn't actually exist. it also doesn't really need to exist, since Weltschmerz and a supposed Welttrauer both basically equal to melancholy.
 

You can't combine an adjective "traurig" with a noun "Frieden" so it'd be "trauriger Frieden". "Trauerfrieden" wouldn't really work, since that would bring in mind something else entirely.

:clap:Sehr gut, mein Freund. 

Edited by Podo
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toast
On 23.1.2018 at 11:37 AM, Marion Jenis said:

My version of the Eternal Recurrence differs from Nietzsche’s in one point. I shall speak of that in a moment. First I wish to replace the word “Weltschmerz” with another that does not remind me of feigned Viennese emotions, as though we were discussing operettas. My new word is “Welttrauer”. The Google translator let me know that it might be better as two words, “Welt Trauer”. It literally means “world grief” or “world mourning” or (just like Weltschmerz) world sorrow.

Er, no. A translation of the world Weltschmerz into world-sorrow/grief/mourning will not match the meaning of the German original word. The word Trauer (sorrow) is mostly used in connection to a sad loss of someone, while Weltschmerz is a kind of melancholic condition of an individual, being dissatisfied with its situation (in this world) and it is mostly not triggered by a specific situation and it doesnt require a specific event to get triggered. Nonetheless, Weltschmerz can be a (mental and/or mood) condition of a group as well but the reason for the kickoff of the condition will vary within this specific group`s individuals. To replace the word Weltschmerz by the word Welttrauer, which does not exist in the German language, would lead to a wrong understanding of the original word by non native German speakers and so, lead to a kind of erosion of the original meaning in the German language, which is or can be (hell,yes!) very precise and difficult to grasp on the first try.

PS: German is my native tongue.

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Piney
1 hour ago, Podo said:

I can speak fluent Mandarin and (Low)German, and my Japanese is not half-bad. Speaking these languages isn't always enough to understand a culture! I was in Asia for years and I still get confused sometimes :lol: So I agree, if you don't speak them, then there's zero hope to fully understand another culture. Language opens the door, but you have to actually walk through that door to get the full picture. 

I speak "internment camp okie" not full Japanese. But my stepsister practices shinto and Tendai as with the rest of her family in Kyoto and on the Big Island. Shintoism is parallel to Algonquian spiritually so I grasp it really good and my adopted uncle taught me Tendai techniques to improve my then terrible course motor skills, health defects and learning disabilities so I grasp that version of Vajrayana.  I'm semi-conversational in pidgin Southern Unami but it is only used for ceremonies and to keep white people out of the conversation and I speak that pidgin Oglalakhacha used on the powwow circuit used to keep white people out of the conversation and used in intertribal Pipe ceremonies.

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Podo
Just now, Piney said:

I speak "internment camp okie" not full Japanese. But my stepsister practices shinto and Tendai as with the rest of her family in Kyoto and on the Big Island. Shintoism is parallel to Algonquian spiritually so I grasp it really good and my adopted uncle taught me Tendai techniques to improve my then terrible course motor skills, health defects and learning disabilities so I grasp that version of Vajrayana.  I'm semi-conversational in pidgin Southern Unami but it is only used for ceremonies and to keep white people out of the conversation and I speak that pidgin Oglalakhacha used on the powwow circuit used to keep white people out of the conversation and used in intertribal Pipe ceremonies.

I salute your accomplishments, and your diverse understanding of various cultures and spiritualities. I am both amused and saddened that a pidgin needs to be used to keep white folks out of the loop, but I totally understand the need for such things. 

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Piney
1 minute ago, Podo said:

I salute your accomplishments, and your diverse understanding of various cultures and spiritualities. I am both amused and saddened that a pidgin needs to be used to keep white folks out of the loop, but I totally understand the need for such things. 

I forgot your more than familiar with the "culture vultures" and dislike them for the same reason I do. :tu:

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Hammerclaw

Wenn ein deutscher sagt, was er meint, meint er, was er sagt.

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I'mConvinced

 

Ich bedaure, Ihnen mitteilen zu müssen, dass ich entgegen allen Anschein kein Wort Deutsch spreche

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Podo
On 1/25/2018 at 4:57 AM, I'mConvinced said:

 

Ich bedaure, Ihnen mitteilen zu müssen, dass ich entgegen allen Anschein kein Wort Deutsch spreche

:tu::clap:

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Piney
On 1/25/2018 at 7:57 AM, I'mConvinced said:

 

 Anschein kein spreche

He did this with a Persian Poet too....

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