The German word “Flüchtlinge,” translated to mean refugees, was selected by the Society for the German Language as its Word of the Year after nearly 12 months of roughly one million newcomers flowing into the western European country, Reuters reported Friday. “Flüchtlinge” is derived from the German verb “fluechten” — meaning “to flee” — and the suffix “ling,” which denotes a person characterized by a certain trait. The jury that selected the term said they did so because the term stood for the “dominant theme of the year.”
The jury made its selection out of some 2,500 other suggestions for terms that encapsulated the country’s political, economic and social events over the past year, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has received worldwide recognition for her willingness to open Germany’s borders to refugees hailing mostly from the Middle East. She was named Wednesday as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for standing her ground on the refugee crisis, despite growing discontent among Germans. Merkel’s approval rating is the lowest it’s been in four years, and political rivals have attacked her for allowing what they say is uncontrolled immigration to continue.
“Not once or twice but three times there has been reason to wonder this year whether Europe could continue to exist, not culturally or geographically but as a historic experiment in ambitious stagecraft,” Time editor Nancy Gibbs wrote in the entry on Merkel. “You can agree with her or not, but she is not taking the easy road.”
In second place for Germany’s Word of the Year was the French phrase “Je suis Charlie,” which was popularized after January’s attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the Paris-based satirical newspaper. Last year’s Word of the Year was “Lichtgrenze,” meaning “border of light.” The term referred to the wall of illuminated balloons set loose on the 25th anniversary of the toppling of the Berlin Wall.