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Austria's "word of the year" contest shows impact of refugee crisis

4.12.2015 22:35
"Flüchtlinge willkommen" - the website of the Refugees Welcome movement in Austria. (PHOTO:

"Willkommenskultur" ("the culture of welcome") has been voted Austria's 2015 "word of the year" in an online survey in which almost 34 000 people voted and an expert commission then chose what word to designate with this honor. The "misnomer of the year", on the other hand, is "special building measures", which Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner used to described a planned fence on the border with Slovenia.

According to the commission of journalists and linguists, "Willkommenskultur" describes "the attitude and deeds that, when one is face to face with the suffering of war refugees, aid such people in beginning a new life in freedom and safety". The concept, originally used in economics, received a completely new meaning during this year's migration crisis, according to the commission.

Second place was awarded to the term "Intelligenzflüchtling" ("intelligence-refugee"). This refers to people who post hateful commentaries during online discussions on social networking sites, which recently have frequently targeted refugees - the implication being that the intelligence of those so posting has fled them.

"Besondere bauliche Maßnahmen" ("special building measures") has been voted misnomer of the year. "This euphemism from the mouth of the current Interior Minister is the misnomer of the year. In actuality it refers to a fence that is several kilometers long on the Slovenian border," the commission explained.

Second place on the rankings for  misnomer of the year went to the term "Lügenpresse" ("lying press"), which the commission said the ultra-right scene frequently uses to refer to the official media. The worst phrase of the year was said to be "I'm not a racist, but...", which the jury said many people use to preface racist sentiments.

ČTK, mik, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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