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‘An enrichment of German language:’ ‘influencer’ is Anglicism of the Year

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‘An enrichment of German language:’ ‘influencer’ is Anglicism of the Year
YouTuber Shirin David is one of the most popular influencers in Germany. Photo: DPA
11:25 CET+01:00
A jury of linguists has chosen the word “influencer” as the Anglicism of the Year for 2017.

The term is increasingly being used by Germans and it closes a gap in German vocabulary, linguist and jury chairperson Anatol Stefanowitsch said on Tuesday.

The word influencer is an "enrichment for the German language" because among other things, it fills a lexical gap created by cultural or technical change, the Anglicism of the Year initiative states on its website.

Cambridge Dictionary defines influencers as people who affect or change the way others behave. Influencers these days often have a large reach on social media and they range from bloggers to YouTubers.

But the English-language word isn’t new, says Anglicism of the Year, as it’s been in use since the 17th century. At this time, it referred to people with institutional power, such as heads of state and church, and was later extended to people whose influence lies in the authority vested in them, the initiative adds.

According to the jury, use of the term in Germany has grown over the past ten years. Whereas it was initially used as a niche term in the advertising industry, its use gradually spread.

“In 2017, its frequency of use had multiplied by leaps and bounds,” the initiative states. According to the Institute for German Language, nowadays two occurrences of the word influencer can be seen for every one million words in newspaper texts.

In second and third place for Anglicism of the Year are the terms "blockchain" and "nice," respectively. A total of 51 words were presented to the jury.

In a vote among the audience, influencer also led the way with 20 percent, ahead of "hate speech" which had 14 percent of the vote.

The independent Anglicism of the Year initiative has acknowledged the positive contribution of English to the development of German vocabulary since 2010. Previous winning terms include “Fake News” in 2016, “Refugees Welcome” in 2015 and “Blackfacing” in 2014.

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