Monday 30th November 2020
The virus and the language
“Corona pandemic” is the word of the year
“Corona pandemic” has been named “Word of the Year” 2020 by the German Language Society (GfdS). The reason given was that the expression named “the dominant topic for almost the entire year”. And further: “As word of the year, the corona pandemic not only stands for what the Chancellor and many experts believe is the worst crisis since the Second World War, but linguistically also for a multitude of new word formations.”
“Lockdown” landed in second place, as the company announced. During the campaign, a jury regularly selects ten words and phrases that linguistically determined the political, economic and social life of a year in a special way.
Many terms that are shaped by the pandemic and its social consequences land in the following places. So the “conspiracy tale” – in 3rd place – experiences a renaissance. Fifth place goes to the abbreviation “AHA”, with which the Robert Koch Institute would like to remind people of the basic rules of distance, hygiene and everyday masks, which were so important at this time. It is followed by “systemically important”, “triage” and “ghost games”. “Stay healthy!” Lands in tenth place.
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”, and in 2018 it was “hot time”.
In addition to terms from the context of Corona, there are two other expressions in the GfdS top 10 that played a major role in 2020. “Black Lives Matter” is in 4th place, and “Gendersternchen” in 9th place.