Anti-Word of the Year (Unwort des Jahres) 2012

Germans just love rankings and choosing “something” of the year. Among others they proclaim a Game of the Year, Tree of the Year, Bird of the Year, Reptile of the Year, Cactus of the Year, Perennial (!) of the Year and as you probably imagine, I could continue with this list but that’s not the main scope of my today’s post.

They do, however, have a few “somethings” of the year that are relevant for this blog. A part from the Word of the Year and the Young People’s Word of the Year, an independent jury of four linguists and one journalist chooses the Anti-Word of the Year or Un-Word of the Year.

Let’s have a look at this year’s selection:

1. Opfer-Abo (literally “victim subscription”)

Used by the Swiss weatherman Jörg Kachelmann, who was accused of a rape by his ex-girlfriend and eventually acquitted, in an interview with “Der Spiegel” to describe the way women abuse their image of victims to make false accusations about sexual abuse.
The word was criticized by the jury because it accuses women of inventing cases of sexual violence and using them for their own profit in a generalizing and hurtful way, while statistics show that only between five and eight percent of women who have experienced sexual violence actually report it to the police.

2. Pleite-Griechen (broke Greeks)

Used a lot throughout 2012 by tabloid newspapers, it defamed a whole nation in a way that the jury saw as unqualified and improper.

3. Lebensleistungsrente (life achievement pension)

“A confusing and cynical description of a very insignificant state addition to pension payments after fulfilling very restrictive requirements.”
It exploits the notion of life achievement by reducing it to the requirements of this marginal state benefit.

What do you think about these words? Do you have rankings of “Faux Pas Words of the Year” in your country?

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