Corona pandemic chosen as word of the year 2020


“Corona pandemic” has been named “Word of the Year” 2020 by the Society for the German Language (GfdS). “Lockdown” landed in second place, as the company announced on Monday in Wiesbaden, the word “conspiracy tale” in third.

Corona has not only profoundly influenced the economy, culture and private life, for example, Schlobinski explained. “The pandemic has linguistically created a variety of new word formations.” He cited the corona crisis, the corona aid package or corona-related as examples.

Since 1977, a jury has regularly selected ten words and phrases that have linguistically determined the political, economic and social life of a year in a special way. The decisive factor here is not frequency, but significance and popularity.

In fourth place came the term “Black Lives Matter”. The violent death of the African American George Floyd after a police operation had sparked a debate about racism and police violence not only in the United States.

The next few places revolve around crisis vocabulary: “AHA”, the acronym for the three rules of distance, hygiene and everyday masks, “systemically relevant” and “triage”. The latter is a French-born expression that stands for one of the darkest sides of the corona pandemic, Schlobinski explained. Derived from “trier” (to sort), the medical term means something like “deciding who should be treated first”. In 8th place are the “ghost games”, which the Bundesliga has had to switch to for several months.

9th place deals with the increasing debate about gender-equitable language: “Gendersternchen”, 10th place is again dedicated to the pandemic: “Stay healthy” was asked more often than ever this year.

The terms come from a collection of several thousand specimens from various media and submissions from outside parties. Last year, “Respectante” was named “Word of the Year”; in 2018 it was “hot time”.

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