Talking German

German Youth Word of the Year Announced

Will this year’s “German Youth Word of the Year” ever take off?

Fly sein” has been chosen as German Youth Word of the Year 2016 – but the decision has been greeted with some bewilderment from the public.

“Fly sein”, which translates as “to be fly,” comes from hip-hop culture and is used to describe something or someone who is hip, stylish and “of the moment.” The term beat competition from the likes of “Tindergarten” (a healthy collection of matches in the online dating app) and “isso” (a contraction of “ist so”, meaning “approval” or “affirmation”).

However, Germans of all ages were left confused by the decision, with even the jury members admitting they had never heard the term before. “At first I thought, that means nothing to me,” said jury member Lutz Kuntzsch, from the Association for the German Language in Mannheim.  Fellow jurors Maximilian Knab and Julian Prechtl, 19 and 18, also admitted they had never used the word.

Fly Sein - German Youth Word of the Year 2016

“Fly Sein”, German Youth Word of the Year 2016 / Credit:

How is the competition run?

The competition is run by Langenscheidt, a publishing house for language resources, to promote its special edition dictionary, “100-per-cent youth slang.”

Every year Langenscheidt collects proposals of words, which are popular among young people, and then identifies the top 30. The criteria for the selection are linguistic creativity, originality, dissemination of the word as well as social or cultural events which influence the language of young people.   These are then presented to a 20-member jury of young people, linguists, educators and media representatives whose votes decide the winner.

German Youth Word of the Year – Previous Winners

2015: “Smombie”. The word, composed of a smartphone and a zombie, describes someone who isn’t aware of their environment because they constantly stare at their smartphone.
2014: “Run with you”. The sentence is supposed to be synonymous with cool or crass.
2013: “Babo”. Meaning boss or leader.
2012: “Yolo”. Acronym for “You only live once”.
2011: “Swag”. The American expression meaning “enviable”, “cool” or “charismatic”.
2010: “Niveaulimbo”. A slogan that describes the steady decline in the level of German television. It is a combination of the words “level” and “limbo”
2009: “Hardcore”.  To hanging out.
2008: “Gammelfleischparty”. The first “Youth Word of the Year” is a not so flattering term for an over-30’s party.

Any Ideas What This Could Be?? Clue - it won German Youth Word of the Year in 2015.

Any Ideas What This Could Be?? Clue – it won German Youth Word of the Year in 2015.

Thanks to dpa (Munich).


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