The “nonsense word of the year” in 2022 is “climate terrorists”. This was announced by the language-critical “unword” campaign on Tuesday in Marburg.
The expression was used in public discourse to discredit activists and their protests for more climate protection, the jury justified their choice. She criticized the use of the term because activists are “equated with terrorists and are thereby criminalized and defamed”. The jury complained that non-violent forms of protest, civil disobedience and democratic resistance were placed in the context of violence and hostility to the state.
The “non-word” election, which has been taking place since 1991, is intended to draw attention to inappropriate use of language and thus raise awareness of the need for careful use of terms.
The jury, which consisted mostly of linguists, gave second place to the expression “social tourism”, which had been declared a “nonsense” in 2013. CDU leader Friedrich Merz used the word last September in connection with war refugees from Ukraine and later apologized for it. The jury saw in the use of the word “discrimination against those people who are fleeing the war and are looking for protection in Germany”. In addition, the word obscures their fundamental right to it.
In third place came the phrase “defensive architecture,” which was criticized as misleading and euphemistic. The term refers to a type of construction that prevents homeless people from being able to settle down in public places for longer.
The “nonsense word of the year” was selected according to various criteria from suggestions that interested parties had submitted by December 31, 2022. There were a total of 1476 submissions with 497 different terms, of which almost 55 met the jury’s criteria.
Words that violate the principles of human dignity or democracy, that discriminate against social groups or that are euphemistic, obscure or misleading are eligible. When it comes to the “nonsense” choice, it doesn’t matter how often a term was suggested. In 2021, the choice fell on “pushback”.