• Germany's news in English
'Do-gooder' named 'worst word of the year'
Photo: DPA

'Do-gooder' named 'worst word of the year'

The Local · 12 Jan 2016, 10:53

Published: 12 Jan 2016 10:53 GMT+01:00

The judges' panel was made up of language scientists, a journalist and a guest from the world of German ‘humour’.

Each year since 1991, the jury has selected what they call the most offensive new or newly popularized phrase in order to "promote awareness and sensitivity of language".

Gutmensch - or do-gooder - had already been 2011's runner-up in the contest.

But repeated use of the word by right-wingers against the left in the refugee debate has been felt particularly deeply by German liberals since Angela Merkel's decision to allow Syrian refugees in from Hungary in summer 2015.

"The accusation of being a do-gooder or goody-two-shoes generalizes being helpful and tolerant as naive, stupid and gullible - or even as moral imperialism,” the panel complained, adding that it had even reached the mainstream press.

"The use of this expression blocks democratic exchange and substantial debate," the press release claims.

Mainstream news outlets responded to the announcement by sending out breaking news alerts and giving the 'worst word of the year' top billing on their websites.

Not everyone was as impressed though.

Political scientist David Ermes criticized the attempt to brand right-wingers' vocabulary as beyond the pale, saying that it would polarize German politics still further.

"The worst word of the year shows the split in our society - and encourages it!" he wrote on Twitter.

Greece and gays in second and third

Gutmensch shunted Hausaufgabe - homework - down to second place on the list.

The selection of the word homework was the panel’s attempt to criticize the German government  for its treatment of Greece during the crisis over the Mediterranean country's third bailout.

Many German politicians repeatedly ordered Athens to "do its homework" - meaning to stop talking about reforms and actually bring forward some concrete proposals, or implement what had already been promised.

In third place came the word Verschwulung - the process of becoming gay - which was made popular by a book by right-wing author Akif Pirinçci called 'The great gayification', which claimed heterosexual men are becoming gay-ified in by consumerist, capitalist society.

Pirinçci made headlines at Pegida rally in October 2015 for a speech suggesting the government is so oppressive it might consider putting its own people into concentration camps.

Story continues below…

The speech was widely misquoted in the mainstream media as suggesting that refugees should be put in concentration camps.

Last year’s winner of the worst word award was Lügenpresse - lying media - a term coined by anti-Islam group Pegida to refer to the mainstream German press.

The winner of the word of the year for 2015, announced in December, was refugees (Flüchtlinge).

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'Hero' refugee hands in €150,000 he found in wardrobe
Muhannad and the secondhand wardrobe. Photo: Minden Police.

A refugee from Syria found a huge stash of money in a secondhand wardrobe he bought. But keeping it for himself would have been a betrayal of his religion, he said.

Istanbul airport bombing
Flights from Berlin to Istanbul cancelled after terror attack
Turkish police block the road after an suicide bomb attack at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. Photo: EPA.

All flights from Berlin's Tegel airport to Istanbul have been cancelled after a suicide bomb attack killed at least 36 people in the city's major airport.

German extremist groups 'getting bigger, more brutal'
A violent demo in Frankfurt in 2015. Photo: DPA

Political extremism rose sharply in Germany last year - among far-right but also far-left and Islamist radical groups - the domestic intelligence agency said Tuesday.

Berlin puts spies on tighter leash after NSA scandal
An installation of the BND in Bavaria. Photo: DPA

Germany on Tuesday approved new measures to rein in the activities of its foreign intelligence agency after a scandal over improper collusion with the US National Security Agency.

Brexit vote
There's no way back for Britain, says 'sad' Merkel
Angela Merkel (r) and David Cameron in Brussels. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the EU summit in Brussels late on Tuesday that she didn't see any way that the British decision to leave the EU could be reversed.

Brexit vote
British business owner in Germany: why I support Brexit
Alexander McWhinney, owner of The English Shops. Photo: Private.

Scottish business owner Alexander McWhinney tells The Local why he supported the vote for a Brexit despite being an expat - much to the surprise of employees at his stores in the Rhineland.

Germany seeks seat on UN security council
The United Nations Security Council. Photo: DPA

Berlin last had a seat at the highest table of international security in 2011-12. Now the Foreign Minister has announced that Germany wants the role again.

Brexit vote
Merkel: Britain can’t cherry-pick Brexit terms
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that the EU could survive a Brexit and warned Britain the union would not tolerate "cherry-picking" in upcoming negotiations on their future relations.

This film makes Darmstadt look more romantic than Paris
The Russian Orthodox Church in Darmstadt. Source: City, Light and Movement.

Not quite sure where Darmstadt is? A short film shot by a Syrian refugee will have you rushing to locate it on a map.

VW agrees to $14.7 bn payout in US emissions probe
Photo: DPA

Volkswagen has agreed to pay out $14.7 billion in a settlement with US authorities and car owners in the probe over its emissions-cheating diesel-powered cars, court documents showed Tuesday.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
How to sound like an expert on German football this summer
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
How pictures of footballers on chocolates made Pegida really mad
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd