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.)