Countless (and pointless) places are taking a moment to declare the word of the year, if for no other reason than it lets them pretend they’re working. Here are the ones I’ve been able to find:
Germany picked two: One is “niveaulimbo” which translates as “limbo level”, and refers to the constantly lowered standards of television programming and conversations. The other is Wutbürger, or “enraged citizen.”
The Philippines: j3j3mon, or jejemon – a little monster who only writes in text speak.
Denmark: Vuvuzela (Yawn. That is so last summer.)
The Flemmings chose Tentsletje, or tent-slut, “a word for a woman who has multiple sexual partners at a music festival, a popular summer pastime for young people in Flanders.” No news yet about how the Walloons voted – but I always think Walloon should be word of the year because of how it sounds.
The Dutch themselves (who live just north of the Phlegms) picked Gedoogregering – the nickname given to the current minority government. The word that came in third should have won: bestuursobesitas — an exaggerated desire to develop company policy and carry it out.
The Swiss seemed to have picked the German word Ausschaffung (deportation) which became popular in the run-up to a recent referendum to automatically expel any foreigner convicted of a serious crime. (The Swiss continue a tradition of intolerance with this choice. Last year’s word was Minarettverbot, = ‘minaret ban.)’
Russia: Аномальные погодные условия — anomalous weather conditions. Re: Last summer’s sweltering weather. Followed by: Ничего подобного никогда не было (There’s never been anything like this).
China: "to swell" (漲, pronounced zhang) is used when describing rapid rising prices and forms part of the Chinese word for inflation.
UK: Big Society – As in the new coalition government’s dream of…
And what about Eyjafjallajökull? Blowout Preventer? Robo-signers?
“We noticed that American products and the American way of eating are trendy at the moment,” Judith Witting, sales manager for Sprehe, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “Americans are more relaxed. Not like us stiff Germans, like (Chancellor Angela) Merkel.”
For Americans in Germany, though, there is a risk that the product might be seen as racially insensitive. Fried chicken has long been associated with African-Americans in the US — naming strips of fried chicken after the first black president could cause some furrowing of brows.
Witting told SPIEGEL ONLINE the connection never even occurred to her. “It was supposed to be a homage to the American lifestyle and the new US president,” she said.
Germans continue to navigate race issues like a drunken bull in a mined China shop.
Apparently they’ve stopped (?) teaching history in the German school system. Y’know, coming from the US I’m usually hesitant to throw the first stone in a racial insensitivity contest UNLESS IT’S AT THE GERMANS. (Fact that my last name is von Hoffman gives me some standing too.) Here’s a nice blanket rule for all those Deutsch marketers: Don’t use racial imagery in an ad. If you have to make sure it can’t possibly be construed as talking about THEM as not being part of US. We are the world, good. They are impoverished, bad.
It was Mother’s Day. Anna and her brother had told their mother to stay in bed that morning. She read her book and looked forward to breakfast. After a long wait she finally went downstairs. Anna and her brother were both eating at the table.
The test subjects were then asked to pick the punchline from one of the following:
a) Anna said: “Hi mom, we didn’t expect you to be awake so early.”
b) Anna picked up an egg and smashed it on her brothers head.
c) Her brother said: “We have a new teacher at our school.”
d) Anna said: “It’s a surprise for Mother’s Day. We cooked our own breakfast.”
“The researchers found a marked difference between the two groups with less than 68 percent of the alcoholics able to pick the right punchline, d, versus 92 percent in the healthy control group.”
That means that there were people who, without the benefit of booze, found ANY of these answers funny.
For reasons of what I must assume be political correctness, the press did not include another answer, which is a sure fire laugh generator at all the Komedy Klubs in Kologne: “Seize the Sudetenland!”