Germany's taboo word of 2013

Every year a German organisation declares a word as ‘Unwort des Jahres’, the word of the year which shouldn’t be used. This morning they announced the ‘Unwort des Jahres 2013’.

The word this time is Sozialtourismus – social tourism.

According to a report from the University of Westminster,

“Social tourism” is a term used to describe a wide variety of holiday types, destinations and target groups: social tourism initiatives can be commercial and non-commercial, governmental and private. They range from small charities organising holidays for children from low-income backgrounds, over government plans improving accessibility in hotels, to private tour operators offering ecological holidays …”

Nothing wrong with that, unless the word gets used for the wrong reason.

Last year the word was used by some politicians and the media to describe the in their eyes unwelcome  immigrants, especially form Eastern Europe – and for this misuse it was declared the taboo word of 2013!

The first ever ‘Unwort des Jahres’ was chosen 1991. Since then every year suggestions can be made about which word has been used during a year that shouldn’t have. A jury then chooses one of those suggested words.

Wikipedia has a list of all the words so far, or you can explore the website of ‘Sprachkritische Aktion: Unwort des Jahres’  (in German)

Edit: I just found the English explanation on Wikipedia. It explains the criteria for nominating words and also gives you a list of former words.

6 thoughts on “Germany’s taboo word of 2013

      1. Indeed and to have such a need anyway…mind you there are many words in the english language that could do with a ban…hmmm!

    1. We may think we’re spoiled for choice, but I just found the English explanation on Wikipedia (added above) which explains that the words have to be topical and have been used negatively in that year. That makes it a lot harder to nominate.
      I think this could be a blog post for you 🙂

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