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'Refugees Welcome' is Germany's Anglicism of the year

January 26, 2016

It was a popular hashtag and appeared on countless Facebook header photos. "Refugees Welcome" has been named Germany's 2015 Anglicism of the year for its omnipresence and relevance.

Refugees Welcome sign at a demonstration in Hamburg, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Bockwoldt".
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Bockwoldt

"Refugees Welcome" is not a new slogan, but in 2015 it could be seen everywhere in Germany. As the country experienced a historic wave of migrants, many people in Germany showed their support for the newcomers by using English, rather than the German slogan, "Flüchtlinge willkommen."

Led by linguist Anatol Stefanowitsch from the Free University of Berlin, the jury has been honoring English words that "make a positive contribution to the German language" since 2010.

The jury pointed out that "Refugees Welcome" not only reflected the zeitgeist of 2015, but was also unique in that it is not merely one adopted word but an entire phrase - a phenomenon otherwise common in the advertising industry.

"It's uncommon for a slogan like this to be discovered and adopted into the language," according to the jury.

How refugees have impacted the German language

The refugee crisis was also reflected in Germany's Word of the Year 2015, which was simply "Flüchtlinge," or "refugees," and its buzzword of the year. The latter focuses on awkward or controversial words in public discourse, and in 2015 it was "Gutmensch," an overly politically correct person.

Also in the running for the Anglicism of the Year were "-exit" and "spoilern." The ending "-exit" is associated with the finance crisis in Greece and the possibility of the country leaving the eurozone: "Grexit." A variant, "Brexit," has been used to refer to a potential withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union.

"Spoilern" - a verb from the English "to spoil" - comes into play when someone leaks the ending of a movie or book before others have seen or read it.

kbm/rb (with dpa)

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