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What's with the name?

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I'll Allow It

Germans Have Adopted “Shitstorm,” Didn’t Even Say Thanks

You can barely get through a sentence in English without using a word derived or straight up borrowed from French or Latin, so it’s somewhat ironic that our own mongrel language should be producing words that get borrowed by German, a language that we actually share linguistic roots with. And frankly, I couldn’t be prouder about the German adoption of our “shitstorm.”

In elementary school we’re all taught that the Dictionary is the final arbiter of language that our speech and writing should reflect. And so perhaps the most important thing my college course in English etymology taught me was the real purpose of a dictionary: it’s actually the other way around. The purpose of dictionaries is to try to capture, as best as etymologists can given the speed at which language changes, a snapshot of how people use words. This makes each edition of a dictionary something of a time capsule as soon as it is released, and now more than ever with the rapid pace of internet slang.

This purpose of dictionaries is highlighted by the admission of a number of internet related words (yes, shitstorm, but also including “app” and “social media”) into the official German dictionary Duden. This comes after shitstorm was voted best new English loanword by a group of German language experts last year. I am proud to say that I am not even joking.

The “Anglicism of the Year” jury defined Shitstorm as a public outcry, primarily on the internet, in which arguments mix with threats and insults to reach a critical mass, forcing a reaction.

“This new kind of protest is clearly different in kind and degree from what could be expected in the past in response to a statement or action,” said jury member Michael Mann, who runs a language website called Lexikographieblog.

The panel determined that established German words like “kritik” were just not specific enough to describe this new phenomenon of public, social media aided outcry, and now shitstorm has ben canonized in Duden.

Heh. Doo-den. Come on. You were thinking it.

(via I Heart Chaos.)


  • Anonymous

    Not Scheißesturm?

  • Miss Cephalopod

    I clearly haven’t spent enough time in my own country of late. So this is what happens when I leave to study elsewhere…?

    That said, I’ve never heard anybody use “shitstorm” within the context of a German sentence ö_ö

  • Skreee

    It is -in the right context of course- a very common word here now. Low-brow newspapers use it in headlines:,15194320,23243376.html

  • Ashe

    That is a very good word. I am proud.

  • Anonymous

    *sigh* English is no more a mongrel language than, well, pretty much any other language out there. That’s how languages work and evolve. English speakers constantly saying English is a “mongrel” language and “special” that way and such is… tiresome and ignorant. Can that meme please die?

    I mean, this very article points out that, hey, German is the same! for example…

  • Layn

    never heard it either and thats with me spending a lot of time with an international group of friends

  • Sabrina

    Ohoho, you have no idea. My bf and I often watch the morning news on ZDF or ARD – and dear god they discovered the internet! Occasionally they have this one lady who’s explaining to them what happened on the internet recently though mostly she’s showing a couple of tweets. And yes, she also did explain to them what a shitstorm is and the word slowly ended up being used by the moderators themselves. It’s so awkward…

  • Alice Ruppert

    I speak German and the amount of english phrases and loan words I use is too damn high.

  • Dave

    Err, technically we *do* share linguistic roots with French and Latin, since they’re also Proto-Indo-European languages. The connection is just a lot farther back. (Simplified explanation: the Proto-Indo-European language, spoken by people in Eurasia during the Neolithic, split into Italic and Germanic branches, among others; the former produced Latin, which produced the Romance languages including French; the latter divided a couple times and gave us German and English.)

    This has been your daily linguistic nitpick.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    While English has been compared to “that language which lurks in dark alleys, mugging other languages for loose terms” apparently English also occasionally sells some of its ill-gotten gains to the black market! English; ugly, inelegant but damned efficient (as Terry Pratchett paraphrases)