"Alternative facts" declared as "worst word" of 2017 in Germany

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-16 20:37:33|Editor: Chengcheng
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BERLIN, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The term "alternative facts" has been chosen as the "un-word" or "worst word" ("Unwort" in German) of 2017 by an independent jury on Tuesday.

Jury chair and linguistics professor Nina Janich defined "alternative facts" as a "concealing and misleading expression for the attempt to use false claim as legitimate devices in public discourse."

The term was initially coined by Kellyane Conway, senior advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, when she described the White House's incorrect statement that Trump's inauguration in Washington was attended by the largest ever audience in U.S. history as "alternative facts" during a subsequent television interview.

Ever since the term had become a "synonym and symbol of worrying tendencies in the public use of language, especially in social media" in Germany, Janich explained.

The German un-word has been selected on an annual basis since 1991 and is widely-publicized throughout the country.

The rules of the competition stipulate that a jury must choose a recent term from public communication which conflicts with "principles of human dignity" or "principles of democracy." In 2017, more than 684 "un-words" were proposed to the linguistic jury in total.

The German "un-word of the year" stands in contrast to the "word of the year" which is selected by the Wiesbaden-based German Language Society (GfdS) as having had the strongest influence on public discussion during the past 12 months.

In 2017, the word of the year was "Jamaika Aus" (literally "end of Jamaica"), to describe the failure of "Jamaica" coalition negotiations between the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU), Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Greens (Gruene).