Alternative Facts

Public Relations Germany – Industrie-Contact AG
Alternative Facts

Non-word of the Year

The current ignore word of the year consists of two words: “alternative facts“. It was first used by Trump consultant Kellyanne Conway in connection with the inauguration of Trump. She said that there had never before been so many people celebrating on the street on this occasion and called this “alternative facts”, because the media in the USA had reported significantly fewer people celebrating than at Obama’s inauguration.

 

Who decides on the Non-word of the Year?

Every citizen can send proposals to the University of Trier, Department of German Studies / German Linguistics (FB II) until December 31st of a year. Every year in October, the possibility is pointed out by a media call. The term “Alternative Facts” has been sent in 65 times. In total there were 1,316 entries with 684 different proposals.

The jury works on a voluntary basis and is institutionally independent. It consists of four linguists and one journalist who consider language criticism to be relevant outside the university. In addition, the jury is supplemented annually by another language-interested member from the public cultural and media sector.

 

Current Jury

The current members of the jury are Prof. Dr. Nina Janich (Professor for German Linguistics at the TU Darmstadt; Spokesperson of the jury), Stephan Hebel (author and journalist), Dr. Kersten Sven Roth (Assistant at the German Seminar of the University of Zurich (Linguistics), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schiewe (Professor of German Linguistics at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald) and Prof. Dr. Martin Wengeler (Professor of German Linguistics at the University of Trier).

 

Non-word examples

The non-word of the year has been investigated since 1991. Some examples from the past (all translated from the original German word) are: human capital, stove bonus, collateral damage, offender population, affluent rubbish, pensioner glut, first-person group, dismissal productivity, peanuts. The non-word of the 20th century is “human material“.

 

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