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English 'YOLO' voted top German youth word
Photo: DPA

English 'YOLO' voted top German youth word

Published: 26 Nov 2012 10:44 GMT+01:00
Updated: 26 Nov 2012 10:44 GMT+01:00

"YOLO," short for "you only live once" has been voted the most popular new German youth expression of the year, the second time in four years that a word derived from English has won.

Much to the annoyance of educators and organizations promoting the proper use of German, the nation's youth appear to love taking English phrases, abbreviating them and adopting into everyday youth slang - particularly when communicating online.

Take this year's shortlist for dictionary-maker Langenscheidt's "Youth Word of the Year" competition, started in 2008 to find the best word coined by young Germans over the course of the year.

After an online vote to draw up the list, a six-head jury unanimously selected winner "YOLO," roughly used in the sense of carpe diem for its originality and creativity, among other factors. Close runner-up in second place was the rather unoriginal English profanity: "FU" short for "fuck you."

Last year, Langenscheidt's choice of “swag,” taken from the English word swagger and originally used in rap music to mean “enviable, casual-cool charisma,” was slammed by the Verein Deutsche Sprache for promoting indiscriminate (and not to mention improper) use of English.

But English and internet slang isn't the only influence on the German youth. This year's shortlist show influences from other languages such as the Arabic word "Yalla!" meaning "hurry!" which came in third place.

In fifth place came "Komasutra" used to mean "attempted sex between two very drunk people."

Even German politics appeared to have found a role in youth slang. Second place this year was "wulffen," meaning "do to a Wulff," referring to Germany's disgraced ex-President Christian Wulff.

The verb either means to leave a long babbling message on someone else's voicemail, or to scrounge a living at the expense of others.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:37 November 26, 2012 by lucksi
I don't want to live on this planet anymore
11:56 November 26, 2012 by raandy
lucks as the Mars rover has found it is worse elsewhere -:)

Language is always evolving, I remember when Gross was a 144 of something and Gay was when you had a fun filled time.LOL ,yolo, swag ,cool hip,awesome,alvo,bank on,chicky, legit ,ect.
16:30 November 26, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Komasutra and wulffen are good. That`s funny.

Everyone who has served in the last 10 years knows yella, so I imagine that it is filtering in from the Americans in the western garrison towns. Or from video games? Kinda like the indespensible "schnell!" in every cheesy WW2 movie or video game like Castle Wolfenstein.

Or maybe Wulffenstein?
17:42 November 26, 2012 by DoubleDTown
I thought "swag" was the stuff they hand out at trade shows
14:17 November 27, 2012 by raandy
Scientific Wild Assed Guess.
22:51 November 27, 2012 by ovalle3.14
Feels great not to be 18 anymore.
11:31 November 28, 2012 by Bob Hawkins
I've never heard of this word,as an Englishman,living in London,I think I would have come across it,in my experience Germans are very creative in their use of English,in other words,they make it up
15:17 November 28, 2012 by raandy
BOb H The acronym YOLO has been around in the USA for while, but the Germans are renowned for claiming originality .
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