A word can be defamatory or discriminatory. Such a word is called a Unword. Every year, a jury chooses the unwords of the previous year. For the year 2022, the jury put the term “climate terrorists” in first place. Activists for more climate protection would be “criminalised and defamed”, the jury said. By equating them with terrorism, “non-violent forms of protest of civil disobedience and democratic resistance are placed in the context of violence and hostility to the state”.
The term “social tourism” came in second place. CDU leader Friedrich Merz had used it pejoratively in connection with people fleeing from the war in Ukraine—but apologised after heavy criticism. The term implies that the refugees only come to benefit from the German social system. The word discriminates against them and obscures their “fundamental right” to seek protection, the jury criticised.
The term “defensive Architektur” (defensive architecture) landed in third place. It describes an “inhuman construction method”, according to the jury. This architecture is intended to prevent homeless people, for example, from staying longer in public places such as on park benches or at bus stops. The jury criticised the term “defensive architecture” as misleading and euphemistic.
The independent jury of linguists, a journalist and a member from the cultural or media sector selects the unwords. This time, it received almost 1500 suggestions from the public. Since 1991, one of the aims of the language-critical campaign has been to raise awareness for discriminatory, misleading or against human dignity language use and formulations. For this purpose, inappropriate terms are selected from the jury’s point of view—such as the Unword of the Year in 2021: “Pushback”.
Further information at: https://www.unwortdesjahres.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Pressemitteilung_Unwort_2022_Januar_2023_Version_final.pdf
Unwort des Jahres 2023. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL / Martin Klaus.
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