Wednesday, 13 January 2016

bonhomie oder in a word

The German Sprachraum Unwort of the Year has been announced, and among many other nominees vying for top spot, and it is Gutmensch—having already been accorded second place in 2011 and in common-parlance for far longer. Politically- and journalistically-speaking, it’s sort of a catty, backhanded tactile term, coded word for a group (Gutmenschtum) that counters counter-thinking.

Someone described as such maybe touting the rhetoric of popular opinion—what’s politically-correct (Politische Korrektheit)—but in doing so betray a moralising naivety. Though the term evokes the idea of the Good German or the Good Soldier Švejk and is ultimately of Yiddish origin for an unpretentious person—ein gutt Mensch (itself having a very dicey provenance, cited in Mein Kampf as a do-gooder mentality that was a liability), opposing sides of especially divisive issues can parlay this characterisation as their antagoniser’s goon squad or deputised useful idiots. It’s strange how such loaded words can be used to cloak innocence and arrogance, but all rests in the context. What do you think? Is this selection inviting too much controversy, something as subversive as the un-word itself, especially considering on-going developments—or is political-correctness something deserving of assault?