The word “corona pandemic” was often expected as the word of the year 2020, writes the jury of the Society for German Language (GfdS) in its reasoning for its choice. And in fact, unsurprisingly, the term won the race. As word of the year, the “corona pandemic” not only stands for what, in the opinion of Chancellor Merkel and many experts, is the worst crisis since World War II, the jury continues in its message.
Linguistically, the term also stands for a multitude of new word formations: corona virus, crisis, numbers, year, corona demo, hotspot, warning app, corona-related, plagued. The extent of the pandemic can also be seen from the rest of the top ten, which is almost entirely based on it.
The complete top ten
Black Lives Matter
With “Black Lives Matter” and “Gendersternchen” only two words that have nothing to do with Corona made it onto the list. In its detailed justification, the jury of the Society for German Language writes that a new era has established itself in people’s minds: before and after Corona. Internet research at the end of November produced nine million records for the phrase “in times of Corona”.
She pays particular attention to the use of the term »Corona«: the name for the virus, which originally meant »the sun’s rays, has developed its own acronym that can convey different meanings depending on its use. In any case, the virus was unable to harm the linguistic creativity. As examples of new words, the Society for the German Language names, for example, “long-term”, “coronary” and “covidiotes” for corona deniers.
The choice of a word of the year is not always as clear as 2020. In 2019, for example, the GfdS chose the term “Respectante”, while the term “Fridays for Future”, which is still very present, only landed third. The word of the year was chosen for the first time in 1971 (then: »rebellious«), since 1977 regularly (»scene«).