‘Refugees’ is Word of the Year

BERLIN: With roughly one million migrants arriving in Germany this year, the Society for the German language on December 11 chose ‘Fluechtlinge’ — refugees — as Word of the Year 2015.

In second place was ‘Je suis Charlie’, a phrase that became a widespread slogan after January’s attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Then followed ‘Grexit’, the term coined to describe the risk of Greece tumbling out of the euro.

But ‘Fluechtlinge’, which comes from the verb ‘fluechten’ — to flee — and the derivative ‘ling’, a person

characterised by a particular trait or feature, took the top honour because it is stood for the “dominant theme of the year”, the jury said.

Germany is expected to receive more refugees than any other European country this year and the influx has hit support for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats (CDU).

Despite being named Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ for her leadership in the refugee crisis, a poll for broadcaster ZDF on December 11 showed 49 per cent of those surveyed rated her handling of the influx as rather poor.

In a sign of how greatly the influx has preoccupied politicians and German society this year, two other words pertaining to the refugee crisis were included in the top 10.

‘Durchwinken’, referring to the practice of other European countries “waving through” migrants as they travelled on to Germany, was placed sixth, while Merkel’s mantra ‘Wir schaffen das!’ which translates as ‘We can do this’ came tenth.