Kilometrówka (Eng. ‘mileage’) the word of the year 2014 according to the linguists’ jury votes

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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:



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 (, as well as on our website


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