Words of the year
The top 10 Norwegian words added in 2017
M. Michael Brady
Each year Språkrådet (The Language Council of Norway) and Professor Gisle Andersen of the Department of Professional and Intercultural Communications of the Norwegian School of Economics compiles a list of the top 10 most significant new words added to the language.
In 2015, the most significant new word was the expression Det grønne skiftet (The green shift), designating a shift of environmental policy toward greener alternatives (The Norwegian American, Dec. 7, 2015: www.norwegianamerican.com/news/words-of-the-year).
In 2016, the most significant new word was hverdagsintegrering (everyday integration) that designates the everyday efforts of ordinary residents to integrate refugees and immigrants into society (The Norwegian American, Jan. 10, 2017: www.norwegianamerican.com/norsk/words-of-the-year-2016).
In 2017, the most significant new word is falske nyheter, a direct translation from the English phrase “fake news,” first used in the late 19th century to designate deliberate misinformation published with the intent to mislead.
Of the nine other new words following first-place falske nyheter, five reflect contemporary politics:
- 2) lillavelger (lilac voter), a person who votes midway between the political left and right, graphically represented in media by red and blue.
- 3) plasthval (plastic whale), a whale that suffers the fate of the 20 foot-long goose-beaked whale, famished and stranded on Jan. 1, 2017, on the beach of the island of Sotra in Hordaland County.
- 4) imamsleiking (imam fawning), a derogatory term for servile demeanor in dealing with Muslims.
- 5) spinner, a loanword from English, the name of the “fidget spinner” toy.
- 6) svenske tilstander (Swedish conditions), social conditions similar to those of contemporary Sweden in which liberal immigration has led to troublesome ghettos.
- 7) lynlader (ultra-fast charging), the technology of electric-vehicle charging stations along major highways.
- 8) ekkokammer (echo chamber), a musical stage production directed and composed by Maja S.K. Ratkje for Trondheim Voices, an avant garde ensemble.
- 9) datarulling (data rollover), translated from the English word for the mobile-phone subscriber service of allowing unused data capacity of one month to be credited to the following month.
- 10) oktoberbarn (October children), term for the 5,000 lone refugee children who arrived in Norway in the autumn of 2015, most from Afghanistan and many of them without identification or verifiable birth dates. So birth dates were calculated from the dates they were registered as asylum seekers. Those then estimated to be 16 when they arrived in the peak month of October turned 18 in October 2017, and then lost their legal protection as minors, subject to obligatory return to Afghanistan.
Further reading: Årets ord: falske nyheter (“Word of the year: Fake news”), Language Council of Norway press release, Dec. 11, 2017, www.sprakradet.no/Vi-og-vart/hva-skjer/Aktuelt/2017/arets-ord-2017-falske-nyheter (Norwegian).
M. Michael Brady was educated as a scientist and, with time, turned to writing and translating.
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 29, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.