Words of the year

Språkrådet announces the top 10 Norwegian words added in 2015

Photo: Oxford English Dictionaries The tears of joy emoji is the Oxford English Dictionaries’ word of the year for 2015.

Photo: Oxford English Dictionaries
The tears of joy emoji is the Oxford English Dictionaries’ word of the year for 2015.

M. Michael Brady
Asker, Norway

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 (NHH) compiles a list of the top ten most significant new words added to the language.

In 2013, the most significant new word was Sakte-TV (“Slow-TV”), designating a new genre of marathon live television coverage, as of the Oslo-to-Bergen train journey of 2009 and the Bergen-to-Kirkenes voyage of a Hurtigruten (express coastal passenger line) in 2011.

In 2014, the most significant new word was Fremmedkriger (“Foreign warrior”), designating a person who travels abroad to fight in a foreign war, usually on the basis of belief and conviction.

In 2015, the most significnt new word is the expression Det grønne skiftet (“The green shift”), designating a shift of environmental policy toward greener alternatives. The expression was first used in 2012 by Anders Bjartnes, the Norwegian Climate Foundation editor. In 2015 Bjarnes used Det grønne skiftet as the title of a book on Norwegian climate policy (Oslo, Frekk Forlag, 2015, ISBN 978-8293099235).

The nine other new words following first-place Det grønne skiftet are:

2) Flyktningsdugnad (“Refugee bee”), first used to describe the collective volunteer work in response to the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and later expanded to include municipalities and NGOs involved in refugee activities.

3) Oljesmell (“Oil crash”), the decline of oil prices and its effects on the Norwegian economy.

4) Trinnskatt (“Tax bracket”), income tax progressive in fixed levels.

5) Utslippsjuks (“Exhaust fake”), after the year’s automotive scandal of Volkswagen’s deceitful manipulation of emission tests.

6) Straksbetaling or Vennebetaling (“Quick pay” or “Friend pay”), payment by automatic transfer to a commercial or private account using a mobile/cellphone app.

7) Tasteplass (“Key-in place”), a Wi-Fi hotspot supporting internet access at a rest area on a public road.

8) Pappakropp (“Dad body”), the fitness decline of a father so occupied with bringing up children that he has no time for exercise.

9) Nettvarde (“Net beacon”), a translation from the English term designating a transceiver that communicates with mobiles/cellphones in shops and public places.

10) Asylbaron (“Asylum lord”), a person who profits from offering lodgings to immigrants and asylum seekers.

The Language Council of Norway is of course not alone in selecting the top ten additions to language in a year. For the first time ever, the Oxford English Dictionaries chose not a new word, but a pictograph, the globally much used Tears of Joy emoji as its word of the year, because it represents “the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.”

Further reading:
“Årets ord: det grønne skiftet” (“Word of the year: The green shift”), Language Council of Norway press release, December 2015, link: www.sprakradet.no/Vi-og-vart/hva-skjer/Aktuelt/2015/arets-ord-det-gronne-skiftet (in Norwegian only).

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 11, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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