‘Jamaika-Aus’ voted German Word of the Year for 2017

‘Jamaika-Aus’ voted German Word of the Year for 2017
Photo: DPA.
The Society for the German Language (GfdS) placed “Jamaica out” at the top of its list of the most important words of the year released on Friday.

The term not only stands for the collapse of talks to form a new government, it is also linguistically interesting, language experts at GfdS said.

This year's list of words that made the cut contain terms that are socially and politically relevant where frequent use of the words is less important, they added.

The word Jamaica took on significant meaning in Germany in 2017 as it was used to refer to the “Jamaica coalition” talks between political parties after the country’s general election in September.

The addition of the word “Aus,” translated in English to “out,” refers to the collapse in coalition talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Green party and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

In second place on the list is the term “Ehe für alle,” which means “Marriage for all.” In early October Germany celebrated its first gay marriages as same-sex unions became legal after decades of struggle.

Photo: DPA.

But the expression could be misinterpreted because “all” also includes children, said GfdS chairman Peter Schlobinski, explaining that the meaning of the word “marriage” has been broadened.

Nabbing bronze and coming in third place is the term #MeToo. Launched in the autumn, the hashtag was used in a global campaign triggered after accusations of sexual assault were made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

When American actresses such as Alyssa Milano subsequently asked victims of sexual harassment and assault to show solidarity and come forward, the #MeToo hashtag went viral.

Victims wanted to draw attention to the scale of the problem, the GfdS said, explaining that the jury selects terms which hit the year’s “linguistic nerve” and “contribute to contemporary history.”

Last year, jurors picked “postfaktisch” (post-factual) as the word of 2016.

In 2015, “Flüchtlinge” (refugees) was chosen as the term that defined the year that saw record numbers of asylum seekers arrive in Germany.

Infographic: Statista

Two years prior to that, as the Statista chart above shows, “GroKo” was named the year’s most significant word – an abbreviation for the term “grand coalition” between the CDU/CSU and the SPD.

Now, four years later, a grand coalition between Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats is a possibility once more with the collapse in Jamaica coalition talks and the start of exploratory negotiations.

First awarded in 1971, the Word of the Year in Germany has been regularly chosen since 1977.

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