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.