The practice, established in 1991, aims to encourage the public to reflect upon offensive expressions which have been widely used within the previous months. The word selected for 2014 is “Lügenpresse,” which translates as “liar press”.
The expression is especially popular among supporters of the German anti-Islamization movement “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West,” or PEGIDA – a name which was also a runner-up among the 733 different propositions submitted to the jury, along with “Putin-Versteher” (Putin sympathizers) and “Social Freezing” (egg-freezing for female employees).
PEGIDA has been using the term in its weekly rallies that started in October 2014, claiming that all mainstream media were liars and biased in their reporting about PEGIDA and issues that concern the movement.
But “Lügenpresse” is no newcomer in the German language.
It was already used at the beginning of the 20th century and became prevalent in the word pool of the Nazis to denigrate any media deemed too unpatriotic for not representing well enough the interests of the nation. It was also used in East Germany and other Communist countries to belittle the Western press. (Photo: Nazi Propaganda Chief Josef Goebbels)
Speaking for the jury who selected the word, linguist Nina Janich reminded that such across-the-board condemnations of the media prevent its substantiated criticism and put freedom of the press, and democracy, in danger.
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