The word of the year doesn’t need to be the most common, nor the one that appeared this very year, although both things count for the feeling of signifiacnce of words and concepts. It is about such a word or concept (an event, an object or a thought) which we feel we could treat as most important.
We want to choose a word of this kind from among the breakdowns of the words of the day. Also other words can be proposed, however, provided they are common nouns (no names of people, places, societies or organisations are allowed), adjectives, verbs or other parts of speech. Also short expressions and phrases are accepted.
You may also want to inspire yourself with our words of the week, published on our website already for a few months, and with words of the month, also published on a regular basis.
PARABANK – the word of the year 2012
The jury composed of prof. Jerzy Bralczyk, prof. Andrzej Markowski and prof. Walery Pisarek chose for the second time the word of the year in the plebiscite organised by the Institute of Polish Language.
In 2012 the awarded word is PARABANK (lit. a shadow banking system or a part of it, an institution similar to a bank).
Other honoured words were (in alphabetical order): KRYZYS (crisis), LEMING (lemming), MINISTRA (ministress; a neologism for woman-minister), TROTYL (TNT) and ZAMACH (assassination attempt).
The jury chose from among proposals submitted by students of the University of Warsaw and other participants of the internet plebiscite announced on University websites, as well as from among statistically most popular words appearing in four daily newspapers. These words were published every day in the Internet (http://slowanaczasie.uw.edu.pl, http://nkjp.uni.lodz.pl/WordsOfDay).
This word is new in a sense, yet it triggered (or strengthened) a discussion on the freedom of self-defining, on the influence on the language, and on different aspects of equality of rights – an important discussion not only for linguists. (Jerzy Bralczyk)
The awarded word, through the contrast of the particle para- ‘similar, fake’ with the word bank, which should be associated with security and confidence, says a lot about today’s crisis of social trust. Other honoured words were either new, had new meaning or were significant for (real or alleged) events which focused the public discourse.
PARABANK (kind of a bank)
The main villain of all ‘parabanks’ in Poland last year was Amber-Gold – a company, whose name could, by the way, lay claim to the title “proper name 2012”. The case of Amber Gold was not only a great news, but a real scandal with painful, long-term, economical, social and political consequences. PARABANK is almost a bank. By analogy, press reports on traces of explosives on the wreckage of the plane could be called reports on para-TNT, and the would-be assassin from Krakow could be called a para-assassin. Such words with para-meaning were brought to us by the past year.
A word, until now absent in our language, yet quite important, as pointing to different “para-“ and with influence on the overall “public trust”. (Jerzy Bralczyk)
Sounds disturbing, as for common people this ‘para’ stands for “a kind-of-ness”, so something untrue, a scam. It is associated with a well-known institution, and a notorious cheat, which intensifies the negative opinion. For common people this word is a mysterious one, a smoke screen to hide something (probably pretty nasty). The scandal caused it to be associated with bad things. I wonder if this is going to be transferred on “paramedicines”…
The word used necessarily and unnecessarily as a justification when something cannot be done. One needs to stop the investments, lower the wages. A catch-all justifying not so much the objective obstacles, but rather one’s own negligence. Trendy not only this year, which is both its strength and weakness in the plebiscite. (Andrzej Markowski)
This word has introduced to the language a name of an animal, until now rather unnoticed. Its metaphorical use, together with its acceptance from those against whom it was aimed, gave another example of how many aspects a “battle of words” can have. (Jerzy Bralczyk)
A noun until last year rather unknown to the people at large, since who cares for an alleged insanity of minor Scandinavian rodents. Its new meaning (dating last year, I suppose) was instantly picked up by journalists and has a great chance to become common, even for its sound alone: the consonants: l, m, n, half-open, easy to pronounce, and the whole sounds like ‘laziness’ and it also resembles an English word, with its –ing ending, suggesting continuity, duration.
MINISTRA (a female minister)
It is a new word, in a sense, yet it triggered (or strengthened) a discussion on the freedom of self-defining, on the influence on the language, and on different aspects of equality of rights,a discussion important not only for linguists. (Jerzy Bralczyk)
It is a this year’s entry in the “Smolensk Dictionary”. It was used so often, that it has probably dominated the discourse – and its concreteness (conf. “brzoza” – birch-tree, “hel” – helium, “mgła” – fog, mist) is an interesting contribution to the symbolisation of certain phenomena and attitudes. (Jerzy Bralczyk)
This word merits the title of the “word of the fourth quarter” rather than of the whole 2014. Nontheless it must have been strongly printed into the social consciousness, given that it has been submitted as a candidate in the internet plebiscite. It was certainly for the media and their announcements of presence/absence of traces of this legendary substance on the wreckage of the well-known Tupolev. (Walery Pisarek)
ZAMACH (assassination attempt)
A candidate for a word of the year you could bet on according to the internet plebiscite, as well as to the statistic lexical analysis of the last year’s inputs to the National Corpus of Polish Language. Its presence in Polish political discourse, proving a trauma after 10th April 2010 that has not yet been worked through by a significant part of the society, was strengthened by press releases on an attempt, which had been allegedly prepared by a would-be assassin from Krakow. (Walery Pisarek)
Web surfers chose the word separatysta.
As a result of the internet plebiscite, organised in collaboration with the National Centre for Culture, the noun separatysta (Eng. ‘separatist’) was chosen the word of the year (formerly also chosen the word of April), winning almost half of the votes.
Porf. Jerzy Bartmiński’s comment.
Two other words with next best results were: kilometrówka (English ‘mileage’, the world of April) and aneksja (English ‘annexation’, the word of March).
The proposals of the web surfers for the word of the year were also the following words and expressions:
wybory (sfałszowane), selfie, oznaczyć, tagi and otagowany post, masakra, beka, Pendolino, lol, szczujnia, bynajmniej, zielone ludziki, uprzejmi ludzie, święty, zapitka, twitteromania, target, studniówka, system wyborczy, smartfon, przewodniczący, projekt, odejście, bezglutenowy, narracja, lajki i lajkować, kredyt, kompromitacja, kobieta z brodą, klimat, klawo, instagram, gender, exit poll, embargo, epicki, dron, dodać, być eko, bieda, afera (taśmowa), Ukraina, Soczi, Krym.
Thank you all for your votes!
We would also like to thank everyone who published the link for voting on their FB pages and on the SnC website.
The [web surfers’] choice of ‘separatysta’ for the word of the year 2014 does not surprise me at all. Separatist and separatism had already become signs of our time, at least of the political one. Year 2014 saw the annexation of Crimea and the separatist conflict in Ukraine, where the European and, to some extent, world order crumbles, and we, Poles, have reasons to worry for our future. Yet the truth is more general: separatists have been knocking on Europe’s door for quite a long time and the spectre of separatism has been hunting Europe, threatening the integration process at the national level (although paradoxically maybe not the entire European Union, which has been supporting the autonomy of regions!). Because we observe not only the pro-Russian separatism of Donietsk and Lugansk in Ukraine, which threaten the country’s integrity; we also notice similar movements in the West of Europe: of Scots and Welsh in the United Kingdom, of Basques and Catalonians in Spain, of Bretons in France, of Flemings in Belgium.
Separatism is separating oneself, detachment, isolation from a bigger whole – from a country or a nation. This word’s connotations are rather negative, as the process of separation as such is painful, or, as it can be seen on the example of Ukraine, even tragic, marked with blood. A peaceful, civilized alternative for separatism is autonomy, regulated by legal agreements. Until recently, it was Crimea to be an autonomous republic in Ukraine.
This problem arises also in Poland, since in 1990, when the Silesian Autonomy Movement started, whose aim is to create an autonomous region within the historical borders of the Upper Silesia, aiming at the autonomy of the Silesian Province during the Second Polish Republic. Silesian autonomists, however, strongly declare they do not want to be separatists, they do not want the autonomy to lead to detachment of the region from the state.
translated by P. Wielecki
Kilometrówka (Eng. ‘mileage’) the word of the year 2014 according to the linguists’ jury votes.
The jury of “The Word of the Year” composed of:
Jerzy Bartmiński (UMCS),
Jerzy Bralczyk (UW),
Andrzej Markowski (UW),
Walery Pisarek (UJPII),
Renata Przybylska (UJ),
Halina Zgółkowa (UAM),
chose for the word of the year 2014 the word “kilkometrówka”.
Second place, ex aequo, goes for:
PROCEDURY, SELFIE, SEPARATYSTA[→], TAŚMA/TAŚMOWY [→], ZIELONE LUDZIKI [→].
Other nominees: ANEKSJA, ŁAZIK, PODSŁUCH, SZPICA.
The web surfers’ plebiscite for the word of the year is running until 9.01. (23:39 CET) on the FB-page of the National Centre for Culture (https://www.facebook.com/jezykojczysty), as well as on our website http://www.slownaczasie.uw.edu.pl.
kilometrówka (Eng. ‘mileage’, a distance-based method of accounting expenses for business travels)
the word ‘mileage’ has unfortunately dominated the Polish public discourse in past few months, thus marginalising other, far more important issues. (Jerzy Bartmiński)
the word ‘mileage’ is not a new word. This administration-specific term for “the costs of exploitation of a personal car for professional aims on a basis of distance actually covered” is well known to accountants and to those who use their cars for professional aims. This once informal word has become an official term not very long time ago, which is why it may sound very colloquial amongst high-brow lawyers’ vocabulary. These colloquial associations are common for most Polish words ending with –ówka. It is said about inhabitants of Warsaw to be the ones to overuse this suffix, making Cracovians gnash their teeth hearing it added to the Cracow’s Old Town (Stare Miasto), calling it ‘starówka’. Year 2014 saw another promotion of the newcomer KILOMETRÓWKA, which became a symbol (a kind of brand) for a political earthquake caused by some frauds regarding ‘mileage’ of some politicians.
Let KILOMETRÓWKA become, as a word of the year, a memento for those who permit themselves to commit such frauds and for those who let it happen.
In a nutshell: having read all the last year’s words of the day and of the month, I had no doubts that none of them merited the title of the word of the year 2014 more than KILOMETRÓWKA. (Walery Pisarek)
“Kilometrówka” – a word describing actions of some of our politicians in a rather unfavourable way, present in news for more than a month, and returning by the end of the year; marked colloquially, which is characteristic for words with –(ów)ka formant, continuously appearing in our language probably for more than forty years, it is an illustration for a phenomenon called ‘univerbation’, which results from a strong tendency for economising and for abbreviating in contemporary language communication. It is also a new word, as it had not been mentioned in general Polish dictionaries (Renata Przybylska)
Taśma (Eng. ‘tape’)
The word ‘taśma’ (tape) exposes the old problem of lack of reciprocal trust and ingnoble practices related to tapping. (Jerzy Bartmiński)
‘Taśma’, as the word of the year 2014, recalls the wire tap affair, revealed to the public in June. The word itself stands not so much for a tape as such, but for all kinds of data carriers. Probably the intercepted conversations have never been recorded on any tape and the younger generation, grown on floppy disks and pendrives, do not associate tapes with data carriers at all. Yet the words TAŚMA and TAŚMOWY (related to tape), popularised by the media, are associated by mane Poles with tapping, which caused some irreversible changes in their attitudes towards some first-page political actors. As one may forgive certain opinions and expressions, but one can hardly forget it. (Walery Pisarek)
Separatysta (Eng. ‘separatist’, the word of the year 2014 according to the internet plebiscite)
Such words as ‘separatysta’ and ‘zielone ludziki’ (lit. ‘green men’) save the memory of tragic events in Ukraine (Jerzy Bartmiński)
The web surfers’ choice of ‘separatysta’ for the word of the year 2014 does not surprise me at all. Separatist and separatism had already become signs of our time, or political time. 2014 saw the annexation of Crimea and the separatist conflict in Ukraine, where the European and, to some extent, world order crumbles, and we, Poles, have reasons to worry for our future. Yet the truth is more general: separatists have been knocking Europe’s door for quite a long time and the spectre of separatism has been hunting Europe, threatening the integration process at the national level (although paradoxically maybe not the entire European Union, which has been supporting the autonomy of regions!). Because be observe not only the pro-Russian separatism of Donietsk and Lugansk in Ukraine, which threaten the country’s integrity; we notice similar movement in the West of Europe: of Scots and Welsh in the United Kingdom, of Basques and Catalonians in Spain, of Bretons in France, of Flemings in Belgium.
Separatism is separating oneself, detachment, isolation from a bigger whole – a country or a nation. This word’s connotations are rather negative, as the process of separation itself is painful, or, as it can be seen on the example of Ukraine, even tragic, marked with blood. A peaceful, civilized alternative for separatism is autonomy, regulated by legal agreements. Until recently, it was Crimea to be an autonomous republic in Ukraine.
This problem arises also in Poland, since in 1990 the Silesian Autonomy Movement was created, whose aim is to create an autonomous region within the historical borders of the Upper Silesia, following the autonomy of Silesian Province during the Second Polish Republic. (Jerzy Bartmiński)
ZIELONE LUDZIKI (Eng. lit. ‘little green men’)
A little bit mocking term ‘green men’ was a reaction to Putin’s peculiar statement upon the presence of troops dressed in Russian uniforms with no insignia whatsoever on the territory of Ukraine. Putin claimed that anyone can buy such a uniform in military shops. The expression ‘green men’ is a genuine word of the year 2014. Although known before as a term for aliens, it made a career last year with its brand new meaning, as, thanks to its playful perversity, it relieves the fear caused by the notorious term ‘the fifth column’. (Walery Pisarek)
procedury (Eng. ‘procedures’)
The Word ‘procedures’ belong to a group of transparent words, meaning they are usually unnoticed when uttered. It can be found – after a cautious analysis of texts – both in common Polish and in its specialised varieties: in scientific terminology, in professional jargons (e.g. technical or medical), or in legal and administrative texts, etc. At the same time, it is quite vague in terms of its semantics and has an extraordinary illocutionary power. The latter implies inevitability, unavoidability of procedures, their indispensability, together with a certain threat or a dictate: unless the procedures are established and precisely described, any decisions are unfounded, or even illegal. Sometimes procedures are almost a magical spell. This word is very commonly used, but – what is more important – it bears a whole net of semantic suggestions.
translated by P. Wielecki
Gender – the word of the year 2013
After much deliberation and discussion, the jury, composed of professors of linguistics: Jerzy Bartmiński, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Jerzy Bralczyk, University of Warsaw, Andrzej Markowski, University of Warsaw, Jan Miodek, University of Wrocław, Walery Pisarek, Pontifical University of John Paul II, Renata Przybylska, Jagiellonian University, Halina Zgółkowa, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań [>>] made their choice.
Other honoured words are: ekspert, Euromajdan, janosikowe, podsłuch, słoik, tęcza. The most repeated word in the Internet plebiscite was gender. The following words were also proposed (in order of submitting):tęcza, Franciszek, kibol, ekspert, Euromajdan (EuroMajdan, Majdan Europejski), słoik, projekt, orkan, naród, miłość, kryzys, jakby, związki partnerskie, zboczeniec, zamach, węgiel, wykluczenie, wiśnia, weganizm, szczaw i mirabelki, referendum 6 latków, przeciek, porażka, po prostu, pedofilia, papież, obłuda, młotek, majdan, like, lew, leming, lapsus, konklawe, komisja, jesteś cały?, janusze, innowacyjny, heca, grafen, genderyzm, epicki, dylemat, chrzan, brzoza, ateistyczne dewotki, abdykacja, Smoleńsk, Polska, OFE, Donald.
a comment from prof. Walery Pisarek (Pontifical University of JPII, Cracow)
Gender A frequent use of the word gender was, and is, being favoured both due to its vague (or intentionally persuasively blurred) meaning and its varied emotional marking. Describing this word in term of flagship words, we notice that for some part of Polish citizens it belongs to miranda, which are words for things that should be admired, while for some other part it belongs to condemnanda – things that should be condemned. This word, becoming more and more popular, wins many supporters, at the same time pulling together many opponents, which in turn raises interest for this word in the rest of society. As for the society, the word gender becomes one of disputanda – the words which should be discussed. Thus, it has become one of the dominant and expressive slogans of Polish public discourse in 2013, especially in its second half.
Janosikowe As some may know, janosikowe (from the name of a legendary outlaw and highwayman who lived in Tatra mountains at the turn of 17th and 18th century, robbing nobles and helping the poor) is a kind of a solidarity tax paid to the national budget by the wealthiest local government units, which is later divided amongst poorest units. This would be the embodiment of the idea of the famous outlaw who equalised the world by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. In times of prosperity, the payment of janosikowe is not considered a huge burden, as it is in the times of crisis. This was the reason for the local parliament to revise the corresponding law. Fortunately for the poorest local governments, the idea of Janosik has won. Fingers crossed the word janosikowe has no chance to become the word of the year in 2014.
Podsłuch (Eng. tap) Last year saw tapping affairs revealed to the public, along with video recordings and collecting personal information, in an unseen scale. Among the words of the month in our National Corpus, this was shown by the word podsłuch. The psychosis of being tapped and watched causes some people cover the “Skype eyes” in their computers. We are the first generation to be listened to and watched on such a scale – say twenty-year-old people, adding with a hint of pride – and the last one to be bothered with it.
A comment from prof. Halina Zgółkowa (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań)
The word gender entered fiercely into idiolectal lexicons of many Poles belonging to various age, environment, regional, etc. groups and it will probably stay there for good. Despite the word’s fuzzy, unclear semantics, it has a clear bipolar axiological marking (probably even more polarised than the word tolerance). For this reason, nolens volens, it has become the word of the year, what we, the jury, have only diagnosed.
A comment from prof. Jan Miodek (Univeristy of Wrocław)
I knew, I felt gender had to win. This word has been beating all records in past weeks. I cannot be delighted that, like tęcza (rainbow), it wakes extreme emotions and divides our society. As a result, everyone who have had enough of Polish divisions and quarrels start using gender as it was the case with Russians or atoms in Polish People’s Republic. “It is all gender’s fault, man” – like once “it is all Russians’ fault (or atoms’, as in Kazimierz Grześkowiak’s song).”
A comment from Prof. Jerzy Bartmiński (Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin)
Gender is for me an interesting example of an instant career of a foreign word, which nonetheless remains a “quotation” rather than a “loan-word”. It should help us distinguish social sex (gender) as a social phenomenon resulting from social habits, from biological sex, for which we already have an assimilated word seks (sex). Can gender be substituted with something native? Rather not, at least for now. It is enough to mention that university studies on social sex, on images of masculinity and femininity, are still labelled with a foreign name of gender studies. The word gender (it will probably stay in the Polish language for good) owes its recent popularity to the bishops’ letter to the faithful, and previously to a rather bizarre right-wing press campaign against gender, which was full of semantic simplifications, or even slanders, which raised a protest of the scientific community.
Jakby (Eng. kind of) From among the words-candidates for the title of the word of the year, I would single out the word jakby, as it seems to reveal our tendency of escaping from clear yes-yes, no-no. “Trochę go to jakby zastanowiło” (“It kind of made him wonder”), Zbudował jakby domek” (“He built a kind of a house”), “Stał się jakby łagodniejszy” (“He has become kind of gentler”), “Stracił jakby zainteresowanie dla sprawy (“He has lost kind of interest for the matter”), “Ktoś jakby się zgodził, ale odwołał” (“Someone kind of agreed, but he withdrew”) etc. Jakby – a kind of sign of the times.