• Germany's news in English

English 'YOLO' voted top German youth word

The Local · 26 Nov 2012, 10:44

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

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)

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 .
Today's headlines
'He's back': Hitler movie hits nerve in Germany
Oliver Masucci as Hitler. Photo: DPA

'He's back': Hitler movie hits nerve in Germany

9 minutes ago

Imagine Hitler wakes up in today's Berlin, is mistaken for a hilarious impersonator of the Nazi leader and ends up a TV celebrity, widely cheered for voicing his demented worldview.

50,000 expected at Berlin anti-TTIP demo
People demonstrating against TTIP in Berlin on October 7th 2015. Photo: DPA

50,000 expected at Berlin anti-TTIP demo

18 hours ago

Organizers of a mass rally in Berlin against US-EU free trade agreement TTIP say that they expect around 50,000 people on Saturday from all over Germany to take part.

Bavaria threatens Merkel with court over refugees
Border controls between Austria and Bavaria. Photo: DPA

Bavaria threatens Merkel with court over refugees

1 day ago

The Bavarian government is threatening to take Chancellor Angela Merkel to the country's highest court to make her change her refugee policy.

This Week in History
What the Germans brought to America
Germany and USA flags adorn New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel in 2011. Photo: DPA

What the Germans brought to America

19 hours ago

German-American Day first gained a spot on US calendars over 130 years ago. An annual holiday on October 6th, it marks the day in 1683 when 13 German families arrived in Philadelphia to set up home. But what exactly made their arrival so important?

Berlin school bans Wi-fi hub over porno fears
Photo: DPA

Berlin school bans Wi-fi hub over porno fears

20 hours ago

A school in west Berlin has opposed the city putting a public Wi-fi hot spot on their roof – because they are afraid pupils will use it to view pornography on their smartphones.

How well does Homeland get Germany?
Photo: DPA.

How well does Homeland get Germany?

20 hours ago

As the first episode of the new season of Homeland, shot in Berlin, aired this week, The Local takes a look at what it got right on point - and where it totally missed the point - about Berlin and Germany. Obviously: spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it.

Klopp meets press as new Liverpool boss
Jürgen Klopp posing with a Liverpool FC shirt at Anfield. Photo: DPA

Klopp meets press as new Liverpool boss

22 hours ago

Jürgen Klopp was introduced to the media as Liverpool manager on Friday morning and spoke of his pride at taking over at one of English football's biggest teams.

Police hunt suspect after refugee child snatched
Mohamed Januzi (l) and the suspected abductor (r). Photo: Polizei Berlin

Police hunt suspect after refugee child snatched

23 hours ago

A four-year-old refugee child went missing in Berlin over nine days ago. Now police have released a picture of his suspected abductor.

Klopp calls Liverpool deal 'dream move'
Jürgen Klopp. Credit: LFCTV

Klopp calls Liverpool deal 'dream move'

1 day ago

German football coach Jürgen Klopp flew into Liverpool on Thursday to put pen to paper on a contract with the Premier League club, describing the move as "like a dream".

West must 'treat Russia properly': Juncker
Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: DPA

West must 'treat Russia properly': Juncker

1 day ago

The West must "treat Russia properly" and address it as an equal, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said in Passau on Thursday, criticising the US for labelling Moscow a regional power.

Are the German public too happy to see Hitler?
The secret to more travel for less
Government blocks plans for Berlin 'cannabis cafes'
'Der Klassiker': no classic at all for Dortmund
Dortmund fans' bad behaviour in Thessaloniki
UK Ambassador wants more young Brits in Germany
How Snoop Dogg dissed Munich hip hop scene
More wind power generated so far in 2015 than all of 2014
Rent a nuclear bunker near Berlin for just €3,000 a month
German universities leap up world elite rankings
Business & Money
What to do if you own a cheating Volkswagen
Homeland star's fave Berlin spot is Berghain
Why Dresden Buddhists won't be using the swastika symbol
Mystery of 'murdered' student found alive after 31 years
What wearable technology might look like in the future
Why vegetarian food is more German than a Bratwurst
The very best of traditional German vegetarian food
The first glimpse of Neptune - from an observatory in Berlin
How VW was rebuilt from nothing... by an English army officer
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd