Words of the Year

Today, the Oxford Dictionaries announced their Word of the Year and it inspired me to put together a quick round-up of various words of the year. There are many countries and languages whose dictionary or linguistic societies do pick the Word of the Year, which is one that sums up what's been happening and what the mood has been in that year.


The UK: Omnishambles

This word was originally created for the TV show "The Thick of It", notorious for casting a humourous eye on politicians in all their glory. It's notorious for its very creative use of language - especially swearing! A shambles is a colloquial British expression meaning something that really did not go well. The Latin prefix Omni - do you recognise it from other words? - means everything.

Who could say it better than the jury themselves?

"Well, it was a word everyone liked, which seemed to sum up so many of the events over the last 366 days in a beautiful way. It’s funny, it’s quirky, and it has broken free of its fictional political beginnings, firstly by spilling over into real politics, and then into other contexts"

Germany: TBA

The Germans do this Word of Year properly. There have been some great ones here, such as "Bundeskanzlerin" (the female version of "Federal Chancellor", selected when Angela Merkel became the first post holder in 2005) and "Teuro" (a mash-up of the new currency name and the word for expensive which was used a lot in 2002).

Germany is so thorough, they even select the Un-Word of the Year. The Un-Word can be a very serious word that has become part of the common consciousness in a community but actually has a value to it that belittles or devalues people in a major way.

What with all the thoroughness, the downside here is that the German societies have not yet announced the words of the year. We are looking forward to finding out more in December!

France: Twitter

In France, there is a whole festival to honour the word - the Festival du Mot. The Mot de L'Année is chosen every year by the Charité sur Loire. This year, they have chosen the word twitter, which we all know of course, but has now made its way into the French language as a verb. They note how it reflects the impact of the digital revolution in everyday life - when was the last time vous avez twitteré?