Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Faux-Pas 2007: On The Shallows Of Lingua Germana"

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
(John 1:1)

It is a common cultural habit in Germany to choose a "faux-pas word of the year" by public vote at the end of each of these time-periods. This is always quite a good laugh for those of us who like their early morning coffee with the smell of recycled paper and ink.

Today, I'm gonna provide you with my collection of the last ten years of "non-words". Any cultural analysis is welcome, though you have to take it with a grain of salt, as these words are taken from public discourse which is semantically dominated by the German media, and as Little Luke already knows, media lingo isn't always representing citizen lingo.

Here we go!

2007: "Herdprämie", variations: "Gluckengehalt", "Aufzuchtprämie"
(translates "Stove Premium" or "Clucking Hen Salary" or "Breeding Premium" and denotes money you get from the state for staying at home to raise your children instead of having a career)

2006: "Freiwillige Ausreise"
(translates "Voluntary Departure", denotes departure under the threat of deportation)

2005: "Entlassungsproduktivität"
(translates "Productivity of Discharge", denotes higher productivity in a factory after employees were kicked out)

2004: "Humankapital"
(translates "Human Capital", denotes the stock of productive skills and knowledge embodied in labour)

2003: "Tätervolk"
(translates "Delinquent Folk", denunciates a whole collective of people to be responsible for the deeds of some, in Germany referring to the national socialist crimes of the early and mid 20th century)

2002: "Ich-AG"
(translates "Me Corporation", denotes money jobless people got to start freelance work)

2001: "Gotteskrieger"
(translates "Holy Warrior", euphemism for religiously motivated terrorist)

2000: "National Befreite Zone"
(translates "National Liberated Zone", euphemism for a fascist dominated no-go area)

1999: "Kollateralschaden"
(translates "Collateral Damage", describes unintentional damage occuring as a result of military actions directed against target enemies or facilities)

1998: "sozialverträgliches Frühableben"
(translates "socially acceptable early death", refers to the problematic German welfare-state that cannot afford to pay retired people social welfare money anymore if they don't die rather early after they stopped working)

1997: "Wohlstandsmüll"
(translates "Prosperity Trash", refers to young and healthy people who are too lazy to work and prefer to abuse the German social welfare system)

I have to admit that I quite like some of them, despite their rather misanthropic tone. No offense, but I do think that there have been traces of truth in late 20th century German cynicism.

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