The German language provides English speakers with some excellent words for which we have only awkward phrases, including:
- Schadenfreude - joy in the misfortune of others
- Realpolitik - power politics based on expediency not ethics
- Weltschmerz - 'world pain' or feeling of melancholia about the world
- Zeitgeist - spirit of the age
- Übermensch - the Nietzschian superman, a man having overcome the frailty of the human condition
- Denkverbot - a prohibition against thought
But what a great word, and with such widespread application covering much of what happens in the workplace, a lot of politics, all of religion, most entertainment and much human behaviour. The formal meaning is an imposed prohibition - like suppression of intellectuals by Stalin or Pol Pot. But it can be used for a culture (for example the civil service culture of conformity and lazy consensus); a doctrinaire belief system (for example religious 'faith' or unthinking belief in supernatural explanations for natural phenomena); or merely a collective behaviour - like a determination amongst the guests at a dinner party to avoid serious subjects of conversation in case someone is embarrassed.