Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Fri Jan 23 00:46:22 UTC 2004

I've hesitated sharing this item with the list, because the article
referred to is in German and I don't have time to translate the whole
thing, so it will have a limited audience.  But I finally decided it would
be of enough interest to those who read German that I should go ahead.

The title itself can't really be translated, only explained:

Unwort des Jahres: Hohmann lobt Jury-Entscheidung für "Tätervolk"

While ADS was grappling with the choices for "Word of the Year," a panel in
Germany was deciding on an "Unword of the Year."  Which of course comes
across as nonsense in English.  The prefix "Un-" in German may indicate a
simple negative, as in English, or it may express strong negative feelings
toward the word's referent.  Thus "Unmensch" is an inhuman person, or a
monster.  So "Unwort" is something like a ghastly or detestable word.

The article, appearing in the newsmagazine Der Spiegel, says of the panel
that chooses the annual "Unwort" only that it is an "independent jury
residing at the Goethe University" in Frankfurt.  I have no idea who's on

The "Unwort" of the year is more than just "a word we don't like"--the
"winners" throughout the years are loaded with various kinds of negative
political baggage, and it's this political baggage that places the word in
the detestable category.

This year's winner is "Taetervolk," or 'perpetrator people' [i.e., people
(sg.)].  It's not a new word, but it entered the public consciousness when
a politician got in trouble by applying it to both Jews and Germans, even
though what he was saying was that neither of these peoples could be
described as a "Taetervolk."

The hapless politician hastened to applaud the panel's choice.

Some earlier "winners":

2001: Gotteskrieger 'holy warrior'
1999: Kollateralschaden 'collateral damage'
1997:  Wohlstandsmüll 'welfare trash' (used by former Nestle president
Helmut Maucher to refer to people who can't or won't work)

The URL for the complete article appears below, for anyone who's interested.

Peter Mc.

Martin Hohmann kann's nicht lassen. Der aus dem Bundestag
ausgeschlossene Abgeordnete hat die Entscheidung der Frankfurter Jury
als "gute Wahl" gelobt, den Begriff "Tätervolk" zum Unwort des Jahres
zu küren. Der CDU-Mann hatte seiner Partei und Fraktion mit seiner
umstrittenen Rede mächtig zugesetzt.

Den vollständigen Artikel erreichen Sie im Internet unter der URL

Peter A. McGraw       Linfield College        McMinnville, Oregon
******************* pmcgraw at linfield.edu ************************

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