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'Heisszeit' is German Word of the Year 2018

December 14, 2018

Germany's summer was extremely hot in 2018, but the term "Heisszeit," or warm age, also reflects climate change as a whole. "Funklochrepublik" and "Ankerzentren" were other favorites this year.

Symbolbild Gesundheitsgefahr durch Hitze
Image: picture alliance/dpa/S. Kahnert

"Heisszeit," literally "hot time," is the German Word of the Year 2018, the Association for the German Language announced on Friday. The German expression for "warm age," as opposed to the ice age, which is "Eiszeit" in German, was chosen by the Association for the German Language not only to reflect an extremely hot summer, but also "the most serious global phenomena of the early 21st century, climate change," the association said. The jury added that they picked the expression because it offered an interesting play on words. 

However, within minutes of the announcement, several German Twitter users noted that it was also the first time they were actually hearing the word.

A dead zone republic and fake anchors 

This year's runner-up is "Funklochrepublik," which refers to the fact that there are still many network "dead zones" in Germany, an important political issue in the country this year. 

The association's third pick was "Ankerzentren," literally "anchor centers," which are admission centers for refugees. However, the word "Anker" is not meant as an actual anchor, but rather an acronym made up of several words: "An(kunft)" (arrival), "k(ommunale Verteilung)" (municipal distribution), "E(ntscheidung)" (decision) and "R(ückführung)" (return).

Over 40 years of words of the year

 The Gesellschaft für Deutsche Sprache (GfdS), or Association for the German Language, has annually selected the German Word of the Year on a regular basis since 1977. Every year in December, a term or expression is chosen to provide a "verbal index fossil" reflecting an important topic of the year. What counts is not the sheer frequency with which the terms have been used in the media, but rather their significance, and linguistic quality. 

The term selected in 2017 was "Jamaika-Aus," a political buzzword referring to the collapse of the "Jamaica Coalition" talks between the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens — the parties are respectively represented by the colors black, yellow and green, which also feature on the Jamaican flag.

eg/db (dpa, AFP)