Friday, 13 December 2013

zugzwang

The Society for the German Language announced from Wiesbaden its selection for word of the year, a portmanteu GroKo for Große Koalition (Grand Coalition) for its characterisation of the political environment of post-election Germany—a surprising departure from the status quo and for the making of unlikely partnerships though the vote and the aftermath is fairly young and does not seem too influential in the grand scheme of things.

It beat out other candidates like Big-Data and Big Brother, referencing the spying and surveillance scandals, a descriptor for the Bishop of Bling for his extravagance and the new papacy's reforms, the idea of charging foreigners a toll for using the Autobahn (Ausländermaut), or Generation Sandsack for the increased and frequent flooding plaguing the country. The choice may prove prescient, however, as past title-holders have included candidates such as the novel term Bundeskanzlerin—federal chancellor-ess, to honour the first time the office was so inflected, in 2005 and enduring to the present, or Besserwessi, capturing the attitude of a newly-reunited nation with perceived and implied notions that westward-leading values and orientation were inherently better than those of reintegrated neighbours. To some extent the brunt of this thinking has shifted further east—mostly, but is still quite persistent in its application. What do you think? Could GroKo come to signify something like a marriage-of-convenience, a house-of-cards, or a pyrrhic victory in the future?