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A moment ago, I had occasion to use the word "schadenfreudeful" in a letter to someone. Wanting to see if anyone else had ever used this word, I did a Google search, and it yielded 149 ghits. I knew exactly how to say it, so didn't need any guidance in that regard, but I was intrigued by the fact that the first listing for the word was this:

After roaring with laughter while listening to this 0:58 video, I was assailed by a host of questions:

1. Who is WordBox?

2. Why does he think he has any credentials for telling the world how to pronounce "schadenfreudeful"?

3. Is he able to provide a pseudo-pronunciation for any imagined word that might be thrown at him?

4. Is he a machine?

5. How does he choose which words he makes videos about?

6. Why does his little video for "schadenfreudeful", which had been viewed exactly ONE time before me since it was uploaded by WordBox on Feb. 23, 2017, show up first in a Google search for the word?

The sheer chutzpah of this WordBox! Not only does he pronounce the word twice, with an inappropriately strong accent on the second syllable, he then has the moxie to say, "and I will repeat again", whereupon he says it two more times, all four times trying to sound authoritative and confident, but stumbling /halting slightly on the third and fourth iterations (which makes me think he might not be a machine after all).

A quirky diversion for an otherwise gray and somewhat dreary Saturday morning.


  1. jin defang said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 12:53 pm

    AGGGH on these mispronunciations. I get equally vexed, maybe more, when chefs/cooks talk about "stroozels" on top of cake and my colleagues call the office coffee machine a "coy-rig"

    And then there's the "carry-yooki" entertainment

    "Oh why can't the English teach their children how to speak?" (per Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady)

  2. Philip Taylor said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 1:35 pm

    I think that WB is an automaton, even allowing for the apparent hesitations. Surely no human being could be that stupid. No idea what a "coy-rig" might be, tho', whilst "carry-yooki" could not easily be mistaken for anything other than that intended.

  3. Sarah C said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 1:58 pm

    Some of wordbox's other words are pretty nonsensical. (Link below.) Makes me wonder if it automatically generates these videos based on people feeding it garbage inputs. Perhaps tweens, given the number of words that seem to be misspellings of 'sex.'

    Also interesting is that some of them contain multiple (synthetic) speakers pronouncing the same thing. Supposed to be a demo for a text to speech outfit?

  4. cliff arroyo said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 2:15 pm

    What I noticed was "I will show you how pronounce this word" which immediately disqualifies anything that comes after….

  5. Victor Mair said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 2:18 pm

    Reminds me of this recent post:

    "The first conversing automaton" (4/7/19)

  6. Victor Mair said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 2:37 pm

    @cliff arroyo

    I noticed that too.

    It's weird that the speech production is mostly fairly natural, but then they make such a basic error as leaving out the "to" of "how to pronounce".

  7. Dan Fitch said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 2:56 pm

    Perhaps it is like PronunciationBook, a similar channel that later turned out to be a weird platform for an ARG (Alternate Reality Game):

  8. David Marjanović said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 3:02 pm

    No idea what a "coy-rig" might be, tho'

    Keurig in German pronunciation.

  9. cliff arroyo said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 3:08 pm

    "such a basic error as leaving out the "to" of "how to pronounce"."

    And is "show you how to pronounce" any better when there aren't any visuals related to the pronunciation?

  10. Philip Taylor said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 4:29 pm

    Thank you David. So a trade name like Cona, the only difference being that I was not previously aware of Keurig. But if it isn't intended to be pronounced /kɔɪ-rɪg/ (which is how I would say it), how should it be pronounced ?

  11. F said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 4:55 pm

    According to Wikipedia, Keurig's founder named it after looking up "excellence" in a Dutch dictionary (according to Wiktionary keurig means "proper; decorous".) So the "native" (such as it is) pronunciation would be /'kø:rɪx/ (?) but people say CURE-ig.

  12. Victor Mair said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 6:40 pm

    The more I look at this website, the more insane and incomprehensible it becomes. It was launched on Jan. 13, 2017 and has had a total of 33,988,692 views. Its top videos (saxe, bf, seax, xes) have had millions or hundreds of thousands of views.

    WordBox (WB) has uploaded hundreds of single word videos. It claims to offer American and British speakers, and most of their videos offer multiple voices ("best quality", mind you) repeating the featured "word" (often it's not a word, but just a group of letters).

    Most of the time the pronunciations are way off the mark, e.g.:


    Sometimes they mix up passable and botched pronunciations, e.g.:


    At times, they just read off the letters:



    They seem to do fairly well with personal names:



    No idea how to handle Mandarin:


    This site just doesn't make any sense to me. How could it garner millions of views within two years?

    The best part for me are the short introductory montages of pretty, interesting clips with generally spacey music.

    Whoever is behind WB must have as their native tongue a language that lacks "to" for the infinitive. After reading on the site for about an hour, I saw countless English infinitives without "to" before the verb.

  13. KB said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 7:14 pm

    > Most of the time the pronunciations are way off the mark, e.g.:

    That video is for "whatosoever" (note the extra 'o'). So, who knows, the pronunciation may be, er, correct.

  14. Victor Mair said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 7:56 pm


    You're right, and they all begin "wait toe…", getting loopier with each iteration.

  15. AG said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 9:59 pm

    This account of purposefully bizarre pronunciations has reduced me to tears of laughter more than once:

  16. Jonathan Smith said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 11:19 pm

    This is just a spam channel with automatically generated trash videos exploiting search terms… i.e., wasting users’ time to make a quick buck like most of the internet these days.

  17. Jonathan Smith said,

    April 20, 2019 @ 11:20 pm

    Oh yeah, report them if you can be bothered

  18. Andrew Usher said,

    April 21, 2019 @ 12:37 am

    Don't bother, You Tube has no interest in terminating these accounts (in fact they probably make money off them), unless of course they get bad publicity in the mainstream media, which is not going to happen here.

    As for the actual word 'schadenfreudeful', we can safely ignore the WB, but I observe that although I don't think anyone that would use the word would omit the final schwa in 'Schadenfreude', I would have a strong inclination to elide it when adding the suffix '-ful'. (And personally I think I'd re-cast a sentence before using that word.)

    And for 'Keurig', I'd be the same as Philip Taylor – everyone knows German pronunciation convention, not Dutch. 'Coy-rig' is just what you'd expect as a transfer of a German pronunciation (and aside from the lack of final devoicing is phonemically identical).

    I still can't understand who is behind WB – surely, if their only purpose was to spam and make money, they wouldn't need to go to the trouble of making so many convincing computer-generated voices (or is that an off the shelf program now?), even if they're all saying the wrong thing. The whole thing appears to be a bot gone mad.

    k_over_hbarc at

  19. David Morris said,

    April 21, 2019 @ 3:43 am

    I once asked a Japanese student if he sang karaoke and he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about, because the general world English/general Australian English/my pronunciation is significantly different from the Japanese pronunciation.

  20. Victor Mair said,

    April 21, 2019 @ 6:23 am

    For the derivation and pronunciation of karaoke, see the following:

    "Keep on -inging" (10/30/17)

    "The MaxPlanckForschung Cover Fiasco: How It Happened" (1/3/09)

    "Japan: crazy over portmanteaux" (7/26/16)

    The third paragraph of this comment (1/8/09)

  21. Coby Lubliner said,

    April 21, 2019 @ 9:03 am

    As long as you are using a long German compound, why not go all the way and say schadenfreudenvoll?

  22. Chas Belov said,

    April 21, 2019 @ 2:07 pm

    You may be schadenfreudeful to know that this Language Log post has pushed that video down to the second result.

  23. Victor Mair said,

    April 21, 2019 @ 2:25 pm

    @Chas Belov

    You just made my day, big league!!

  24. Chas Belov said,

    April 21, 2019 @ 3:50 pm


    As of several years ago, I had never heard "schadenfreude" spoken aloud and had always mentally heard it as SHAY-den-FROOD. When I discovered the correct pronunciation, I wound up using that mispronunciation in a play.

  25. Rosanna said,

    April 21, 2019 @ 5:16 pm

    @AG when I first saw the title of this post, I thought it might be PronunciationManual's rendition of schadenfreude:

  26. Steve Bacher said,

    April 21, 2019 @ 6:05 pm

    I always thought that "Keurig" was pronounced the way the captain of the Enterprise attempted to articulate his own name in the Star Trek Classic "The Paradise Syndrome" episode.

  27. Vanya said,

    April 22, 2019 @ 4:25 am

    I wound up using that mispronunciation in a play.

    Avenue Q?

  28. tsts said,

    April 22, 2019 @ 9:50 am

    @Coby Lubliner: In that case, the correct word would be "schadenfreudig", which is an actual word in German with more than 12,000 ghits.

    If we go with something half English, half German, I would prefer "schadenfreudful" without the "e", which unfortunately only gets 3 ghits. Strangely, "schadenfreudish gets more than 4k ghits, mostly in English, and "schadenfreundlich gets almost 1K ghits, mostly in German — the latter is actually a word with a very different meaning.

  29. Michele Sharik Pituley said,

    April 22, 2019 @ 2:11 pm

    What's wrong with "coy-rig"?

  30. Chas Belov said,

    April 23, 2019 @ 12:16 am

    @Vanya: I wish I'd written Avenue Q. That honor goes to Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx, and Jeff Whitty. No, the play is No Word for Schadenfreude, and you've never heard of it.

  31. dainichi said,

    April 23, 2019 @ 1:41 am

    > the correct word would be "schadenfreudig", which is an actual word in German with more than 12,000 ghits.

    "Schadenfroh" has more than 10 times as many.

  32. Michael said,

    April 25, 2019 @ 2:24 pm

    A while back, I wanted to find an example of someone saying "Baluchitherium," which I suspect I've been pronouncing wrong for my whole life, and all I could find was these types of videos, with robots taking their best guess at how to pronounce the word. What I really wanted was a clip of a paleontologist speaking in which the word was mentioned in passing, but no luck.

  33. Andrew Usher said,

    April 25, 2019 @ 6:56 pm

    I don't believe 'schadenfreudig' and 'schadenfroh' should mean the same, so that comparison is off – the latter should be what you feel when experiencing schadenfreude, which was not the original intention.

    I'm pretty sure I could pronounce 'Baluchitherium' correctly in Anglo-Latin (stressed syllables like 'spook' and 'fear'), but you're likely as not to hear other pronunciations for biological names anyhow. I would certainly have a proper education include the standard English pronunciation of Latin explicitly, but, you're right, these pronunciation 'help' spammers are a total nuisance. I think I can call them spammers based on their behavior without actually knowing their motive; as far as I know, a financial motive is not actually required to be spam.

  34. Phil Ramsden said,

    April 26, 2019 @ 11:17 am

    I wouldn't get too aerated about someone trying to pronounce "Keurig" like a German word; after all, pronouncing it like a Dutch one is a *bastard* for English speakers.

    (What's more mysterious to me is why someone decided a Dutch word would work for a coffee brand. Have you *tasted* the coffee in the Netherlands? The best you can say is that there's always plenty of it.)

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