The word “s***storm” has officially been entered into Duden, the German standard lexicon and their equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Duden Online defines the word as: “Noun, masculine – a storm of protest in a communications medium of the internet, which is associated in part with insulting remarks.”
The term has filled something of a linguistic niche for Germans, and has become so commonplace that it was recently used by Chancellor Angela Merkel at a public meeting and failed to stir up any controversy of its own.
According to the German news website The Local, “s***storm” became popular following the financial crisis in the eurozone and an online plagiarism scandal which resulted in the then-defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigning his post.
While its specific reference to the internet seems to stray from its primarily American-English origins, the term was crowned as “Anglicism of the year” last year in an annual contest organised by a linguist at the University of Hamburg.
The competition recognises the fact that technological advances and new media, combined with the cultural significance of the US, mean English words often end up plugging gaps where German falls short. In the case of “s***storm”, it was generally felt that the nearest established equivalents, such as “Kritik” (criticism), were simply not descriptive enough.
The inaugural winner of the award in 2010 was “leaken”, which was adopted wholeheartedly by the German media and public in the wake of the Wikileaks scandal.
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