German Language Blog

Austrian Word Of The Year 2021 Posted by on Dec 15, 2021 in Culture, Language, Politics

Guten Tag! It’s coming to that time of year when each country reveals its Wort des Jahres – its ‘Word of the Year’!

What is the Word of the Year?

The Wort des Jahres is voted in each year by a jury (die Jury), usually made up of linguists (der Sprachwissenschaftler: linguist) and people from the media (die Medien). It is related to a prominent topic in the country during the year, and is usually interesting from a linguistic perspective, too. An important thing to note is that the Word of the Year has nothing to do with how often the word has been used, but is more about the word’s significance. What’s great about learning the Word of the Year from German-speaking countries is that it gives us an insight into those countries’ current events, politics and culture, whilst teaching us some quirks of the language.

Today’s post will focus on the Wort des Jahres from Österreich – Austria.

word of the year

Vienna Rathaus (town hall) in winter. Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash

We normally focus on the German Word of the Year here on this blog, so if you are wondering why Österreich has its own Wort des Jahres, here is an explanation from the official website. See how much of it you can understand before reading the translation below it!

“Warum ein eigenes oewort?
Aufgrund unterschiedlicher politischer Verhältnisse und Themen, die das Geschehen im Land bestimmen und prägen, kann ein einziges Wort des Jahres für den gesamten deutschsprachigen Raum nicht aussagekräftig sein.
Aus diesem Grund wird in Österreich seit 1999 initiiert von Rudolf Muhr ein eigenes österreichisches Wort des Jahres gewählt. Auch die Schweiz, Südtirol und Liechtenstein wählen seit 2002 bzw. 2006 ein eigenes Wort des Jahres.”

“Why is there a separate, Austrian word? (The ‘oe’ in ‘oewort’ stands for Österreich)
Due to the different political conditions and topics that determine and shape the state of the country, it would not be sufficient to have one, singular Word of the Year to account for every German-speaking region.
That’s why Austria has been voting in its own, Austrian Word of the Year since 1999 (initiated by Rudolf Muhr). Switzerland, South Tirol and Liechtenstein have been voting in their own Word of the Year since 2002/2006 respectively, too.”

word of the year

Vienna U-Bahn (underground). Photo by Samuel-Elias Nadler on Unsplash

Wort des Jahres 2021 in Österreich

The Wort des Jahres 2021 in Austria is “Schattenkanzler”, which is the German word for ‘shadow chancellor’. This relates to politician Sebastian Kurz ; it’s an ironic expression that the public, news outlets and other politicians gave him this year after he stepped down from his role as Federal Chancellor. Political words tend to feature a lot in the Wort des Jahres lists, so even though the word “Schattenkanzler” itself isn’t anything special, the word gives an insight into one of the big, political stories of the country that year!

In contrast, the runner-up this year is barely even a word: “3G”. This stands for “genesen, geimpft, getestet” and is the name of the regulation put in place this year in Austria, Germany, and other European countries, to control who can enter public spaces in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic. “Genesen, geimpft, getestet” means “Recovered, vaccinated, tested”. It means that, wherever the “3G” rule is in place, people have to show proof of either a negative Coronavirus test result; full vaccination; or of recovery from a Coronavirus infection, in order to enter.

I think you’ll agree that these are two very different, but very interesting Wörter des Jahres (Words of the Year) from Austria this year!

Stay tuned as we unveil more Words of the Year over the coming weeks!

Bis bald (see you soon)!

PS. If you liked this post, you might like this one: Austrian and Swiss-German Words of the Year 2019

word of the year

Austrian Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market). Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.