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'Boostern' is Germany's 2021 'anglicism' of the year

February 1, 2022

Every year German linguists honor an English word that has "had a positive influence on the development of the German vocabulary." They said this year's selection spread into use at a "speed rarely seen."

A woman holding German, American and UK flags
Since 2010, the 'Anglicism of the Year' initiative has recognized the contribution of English to the German vocabularyImage: Khosrow Rajab Kordi/Zoonar/picture alliance

The expression "boostern" has been named the German language's English loan word of 2021, a jury for the annual "Anglicism of the Year" initiative announced on Tuesday in Berlin. 

Although not strictly an English word, and used as a verb in German, boostern derives from the English term "booster" or "booster shot," referring to an additional dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The noun "Booster" is also commonly used.

Linguist and chairman of the selection jury, Anatol Stefanowitsch, said that the expression first appeared in common parlance in October 2021, and then "almost seamlessly became a fixed part of the German vocabulary." 

First lockdowns, now boosters

Linguists said that use of the word boostern spread at a "speed rarely seen." Other pandemic-related expressions on the shortlist included "long COVID" and "QR-Code." Non-pandemic words under consideration were "woke" and "cringe," which was named the 2021 German "youth word" of the year

It is the second year in a row a pandemic-related expression worked its way into German conversations. In 2021, "lockdown" was named the anglicism of the year. 

English words the Germans use wrongly

Boostern sounds more 'optimistic'

The jury said that the English word for an additional dose of a vaccine had a more "optimistic and dynamic" connotation than the German phrase "eine Auffrischungsimpfung erhalten," which translates into the wordy: "to get a booster vaccination." 

In informal use, Germans often transform nouns into verbs by simply adding -n or -en to the end of a word, such in the expression "chatten," a Germanized form of the English "to chat." 

Other pre-pandemic English words of the year have included "influencer" in 2017, and "refugees welcome" in 2016. In 2019, "for future" took the top spot, referring to the "Friday's for Future" climate activist movement. 

Since 2010, the Anglicism of the Year initiative has recognized the contribution of English to the development of German vocabulary.

wmr/msh (AFP, KNA)

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