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Presidency – the word of the year 2011

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PREZYDENCJA (eng. presidency) – the word of the year 2011

The plebiscite for the word of the year 2011 organised by the Institute of Polish Language, University of Warsaw, was settled.

The title of the word of the year goes to prezydencja (presidency), the second place goes to kryzys (crisis), the third place ex aequo goes to katastrofa (catastrophe) and krzyż (cross).

The jury composed of professors: Jerzy Bralczyk, Andrzej Markowski ans Walery Pisarek have chosen the most significant words of the past year, guided not only by their sensibility, but also by the proposals submitted through the Internet, as well as by the daily breakdowns of the words of the day – the keywords from press, published by the Institute of Polish Language.

Here are the results and the comments of the jury.

The word of the year: PREZYDENCJA (presidency)

A motivation for the choice of the word of the year was its reference. Six months of European Union’s presidency flattered the national pride even of those among us, who fully understood it was just a formality. The graphic representation of our presidency (of course, I know it is called a logo!) with a white and red arrow at the spearhead of a colorful brood (!), captured the atmosphere perfectly. And we did quite well too. And the next occasion may not come until 14 years! Prezydencja – either written with lower or upper case letter – sounds proudly. I have barely finished the previous sentence, when I hear a chuckle. It is PREZYDENCJA – the word of the year – it is bursting its sides with laughter. – What’s wrong with you? – I look at the word enquiringly. – I remembered you a year ago saying you need no PREZYDENCJA, when you have PRZEWODNICTWO (meaning presidency, but with Polish stem).”

Walery Pisarek

The word prezydencja is the one hand serious, solemn and dignified, with a clear Latin past, and new, controversial on the other. Is it necessary? Would not przewodniczenie (meaning presidency, but with Polish stem) be enough? Related with Poland and the European Union last year, it would make us proud, worried and it would trigger political attacks. Polska prezydencja (Polish presidency) is an expression useful for journalists. In the media and in thinking about Europe – it was indispensable.”

Jerzy Bralczyk

2nd place: KRYZYS (crisis)

The work kryzys was often used as a spell, which was supposed to explain many unwanted phenomena and to evoke emotional reactions. As a matter of fact, it got worn out, it started to be repeated also in minor contexts, often ironically. It does not seem like a Wielki Kryzys (great depression, lit. great crisis). Some see it as a universal toy gun of the press, something like a global warming. Yet in some, it triggers real fear. The crisis usually comes, for the time being we do not live in it yet, we are waiting for it, as for the end of the world announced by the Maya.”

Jerzy Bralczyk

3rd place: KATASTROFA (catastrophe) and KRZYŻ (cross)

KATASTROFA – it took place at the beginning of the second quarter of 2010, but its long shadow can be seen throughout all the year 2011. Not even 100 casualties, but it turned out that along with their deaths, most of us, the people speaking Polish, had lost someone beloved, close, respected, someone with whom our hope for a better future of ourselves, of our cities, of the whole country was bound. What happened 10th April 2010 near Smolensk, caused the word katastrofa change its meaning. It turned into the Katastrophe. And this mere fact that now, at the verge of 2015 the word KATASTROFA without any adjectives reminds us of the 10th April, opens the word its way to the winners’ stand of the year 2011.”

Walery Pisarek

Other words and expressions

Further words (and also expressions) that the jury decided to honour are: JAK ŻYĆ? (how shall I live?), KIBOL (hooligan), W BUDOWIE (under construction) and WYBORY (elections).

It was not an easy choice. There were more than two thousand words of the day and proposals submitted by internet voters altogether. Thank you for your votes. Among those who voted for the winner, prezydencja, Polish dictionaries will be drawn.