Words that "ruled" in Poland in 2009

It took me quite a while to find them. When we first discussed this topic here at Lexiophiles I thought there must be  some council, commission, publishing house or at least a newspaper that chooses the word of the year. I found the anti-word of the decade, a politician’s quote of the year, most popular phrase but none of it was exactly what I was looking for. And then I found many referrals to the German or English words of the year. Germany is the role-model country when it comes to such rankings, they not only have the word of the year but also the anti-word of the year and, starting this year, the sentence of the year, not to mention non-linguistic quirks such as the animal or the plant of the year. 🙂

However, I should probably be coming back to my Polish finds. After the aforementioned time it took to research the Polish word of the year, I found something I could write about. It’s not a long-established ranking but rather a subjective choice of one of the news portals so it’s mostly about words from the world of politics but it doesn’t matter as the Polish talk about politics all the time anyway. The portal compiled the “Dictionary 2009” – a collection of 10 very successful words of 2009.

Today I’m going to write about 3 of them in a more or less arbitrary order.

CRISIS is one of them. Of course. What started in 2008 continued in 2009 and despite of all claims of our Prime Minister that Poland is a country not affected by this economic monster and that the crisis only strengthens our economy, many “ordinary” citizens had a bit different opinion on that topic. Some saw the crisis as a challenge, as a chance for a new beginning and it also became the favorite excuse of bosses to refuse their employees a pay rise. And most of all it was used by the media to spread propaganda about fear to such an extent that was so appalling that numerous journalists and bloggers protested against the abuse of this word.

A/H1N1 – so much has already been said and written everywhere about the virus of the so-called swine flu (including the controversies connected with the name “swine flu” itself) that no further comment is necessary here. Let me just mention that the phrase “swine flu symptoms” was one of the most popular entered into search engines last year.

Fritzl – I would like to leave this one without a comment as well. The whole world heard about the monster from Austria but it’s just not something you feel like writing about. Enough said – his name became the general term for these kind of criminals.

When I first saw the list of words that ruled in 2009 in Poland I noticed they were all rather depressing but I didn’t suspect it would become so hard and quite unpleasant to write about them – especially those 3 above which are not entertaining at all, but they were on the list so unfortunately they were important in 2009. These ones were international, next time I’ll write more about the remaining 7 all of which are closely to the Polish political and social situation and so far more awkward, especially for the international public. Some of them are even a bit funny even if it’s a rather bitter kind of funny.


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