Why is this phrase Germany’s ‘Anglicism of the Year’?

Why is this phrase Germany's 'Anglicism of the Year'?
Photo: DPA
This year’s Anglicism of the Year recalls the importance of climate protection movements around the world.

Since 2010, a jury composed of various linguistic institutions and universities has chosen an Anglicism of the Year to recognize the positive influence of the English language in Germany.

This year they deemed “for future” as the winning Anglicism, stating they were impressed by the phrase’s creative dissemination.

“For future” is a so-called phrase template—a phrase with a space in which different words can be inserted. 

An “Omas for Future” demonstration earlier in January in Mainz. Photo: DPA.

Throughout 2019, there were demonstrations under the title Fridays for Future, Students for Future, and even Omas for Future.

READ ALSO: Six things to know about the climate strikes in Germany

The jury announced Tuesday morning in Berlin that they were furthermore impressed by the term’s central importance for the climate protection movement. 

The phrase can be traced back to the catchphrase Fridays for Future, a term coined by 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in 2018.

English belongs 'to all of us'

Jury chairman Anatol Stefanowitsch noted: “That a Swedish native speaker coined an English slogan that was then adopted worldwide and used as a model for the naming of climate protection movements, until finally becoming a general expression for climate-conscious action in German, shows that the English language no longer belongs to the traditional English-speaking countries, but to all of us.”

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks in front of the Brandenburg Gate at a 2019 Fridays for Future demonstration in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The message that English belongs to ‘all of us,’ is a significant part of the mission of the Anglicism of the Year award.

In fact, the initiative has been focusing on “the positive contribution of English to the development of German vocabulary” every year since 2010, making “for future” the 10th Anglicism chosen.

Last year, the distinguished terms included the gender star (the symbol *) as well as terms such as “Influencer” (2017) and “Shitstorm” (2011).

READ ALSO: Shitstorm 'best English gift to German language'

There is also a popular vote portion of the decision in the form of a multi-day online vote.

The phrase “OK Boomer,” used by younger people to sarcastically dismiss know-it-all statements made by members of the baby boomer generation, was chosen as the favourite this year.

More words and un-words of the year

The German language is known for its ability to combine words to form entirely new concepts and express complex ideas.

Along these lines, a  'German Word of the Year' is chosen annually by the Society for the German Language (DfdS), and captures a key political, social, or economic theme from the year.

This year the Wiesbaden-based group chose “Respektrente,” which refers to pensioners being able to enjoy their retirement with dignity after many years of work.

READ ALSO: This is the German word of the year for 2019

There is also an Unwort of the year, chosen by a language-critical jury in Darmstadt. This year’s winner was “Klimahysterie,” or climate hysteria.

Within German-speaking Europe, a group of experts from the University of Applied Sciences in Zürich named “Klimajugend,” or “climate youth” the Word of the Year in Switzerland.

READ ALSO: What is Germany's 'ugliest word of the year'?

Austria’s Word of the Year, determined by the Graz Research Center for Austrian German, brought images of political controversy to mind.

The chosen word “Ibiza” refers to the resignation of Vice Chancellor and FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache following his reaction to a video in which he was secretly filmed on the Spanish island.

Translated by Kate Brady. 


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