German Advent Calendar 11 – How (not) to sound based

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How (not) to sound based

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Ey yo, what is good,

hope ya’ll feelin’ fire today. Epic German is Easy Advent Calendar, day number 11. Yeeeeeet.
And today, I want to tell you about a kind of yearly tradition in Germany.
If you’ve followed the Advent Calendar 2020 (which was super epic, by the way), you might remember that I told you about the “Unwort of the year” award – an contest for the “bad” word or phrase of the year.

Well… today, I want to tell you about something similar, just more peer group specific:

das Jugendwort des Jahres

As you might have guessed, this is the “young people’s” word of the year and it’s basically the most trendy youth slang of the current year.

The vote is organized by the Langenscheidt dictionary, so it’s not an “official” selection, but over a million people take part in it and it gets widespread media coverage.
And the winner this year is… drumroll please…

1 . cringe

Yes, the English word cringe. And NOT the verb to cringe, mind you. The adjective cringe. And yes, I know the thought of cringe being an adjective makes some of you cringe.
That ship has sailed, though, and you insisting on it not being an adjective is definitely something young people would call cringe ;).

“Cringe ist ein Verb, kein Adjektiv.”
“Ew, Grammatik ist so cringe.”

Cringe is incredibly widespread in English and through forums like Reddit and apps like CCP…er… I mean TikTok, it has made its way into the German mainstream too. And it was actually the runner up in the Jugendwort competition 2020, but it got beat by lost. 
Me personally, I find it quite useful and it has definitely enriched the German vocabulary because we don’t have a fitting adjective to describe this otherwise… maybe uncool, but that too comes from English.
So yeah, in the name of all my young and old peers… thanks English for this one.

And of course I know you’re curious what else was in the competition so let’s go through the top 5 real quick.

2. Sus

Sus also comes from English, and it’s a short version of the adjective suspect. It gained insane popularity through the game Among Us, in which you have to identify a traitor in your ranks by chatting with others. And people would constantly say “What he just said is sus.”, “What she did is sus.” and so on.
This is not as common as cringe, and I doubt many people above the age of 30 know it, so you’re in the group now. And the cool thing about sus is that it’s a word I feel like is not cringe when an old person uses it. If you’re an older semester and you have grand kids… try throwing in sus somewehre. They’ll be impressed.

3. Sheesh

Sheesh is basically an exclamation of stunned surprise. Like… someone tells you something crazy or impressive, and you’d just go sheeeeeeesh.

“Ich habe in drei Monaten Deutsch gelernt.”
“Sheeeesh, so schnell.”

And this one actually already was around when I was in school a decade or two ago. Actually it was more of a “tshüüüüsh” then most of the time, but yeah, this is nothing new. Boring!!
And the next one is pretty boring as well.

4. wild/wyld

It’s used in the sense of wild or crazy, it’s nothing new and spelling it with a y is actually kind of cringe. I’ve not heard that one used particularly frequently in the ahem wild, though, so I can’t tell how common it is.

5. diggah

And once again, this is absolutely nothing new. Diggah made its way into slang in the late 90s in German rap music, and it has never really gone away.
But now it has a second spring because it’s basically the German version of bro. And people do use bro here as well. But diggah is even more common at the moment.

“Bro, ich hab Hunger, diggah.”
“Diggah, ich auch diggah, lass mal Burger essen diggah. ”
“Auf jeden, Diggah, mit Fries diggah.”
“Diggaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”
*both get a mild diggasm

You think this is exaggerated, but it is not. I really have to hold back tears of laughter in the bus sometimes. It’s hilarious.

Anyway, if you want to check out places 5 through 10, you can check out this article here (in German)

Jugendwort des Jahres Top 10 (Faz.net)

And if you want to check out older winners, you can do that here

Older Winners (German Wikipedia)

Let me know if you have a similar competition in your language, or if your language has also imported these Anglicism.
German is really open to imports and me personally, I don’t think it’s a problem, because it enriches the language rather then harm it. But I know opinions about this differ a lot, so please share your opinion in the comments.
I’ll see you there, have a great day, and bis morgen :)

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Barratt
Barratt
3 months ago

I’m not against importing words, but I am of the opinion that it makes your language more difficult for foreigners to understand because they don’t know when you’re switching languages. Ironically, the English words often cause me confusion despite being a native English speaker, and German speakers will switch language even mid-word. For example, I remember being really puzzled the first time I heard the word “Kampfjet” on the news. I tried searching for “Kampftschet”–no hits–before eventually realizing it was a multilingual chimaera. (I would have understood “Düsenflieger” right away…)

Desdra
Desdra
7 months ago

Ach, #5 is a bit cringe. It’s very, very close to a slur in American English. I couldn’t read it without hearing the slur.

Starbuck
Starbuck
7 months ago
Reply to  Desdra

Yeah I had a similar thought. That slur is one of the few words that I don’t remember ever saying because it was so ingrained in me so young that it’s a word I absolutely must not use under any circumstances.

Even if I’m singing along to a song with that word in the lyrics, I usually just don’t sing it because it’s so uncomfortable to say, even if I’m alone at home and there’s nobody here to offend.

But my main thought with “diggah” was, one of my friends calls another one that as a nickname because his initials are “JCB” haha!

Starbuck
Starbuck
7 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

JCB are a well-known (in the UK) company who make giant digging machines such as this bad boy:
comment image

By the way, please can you explain the title of this article to me? I keep reading it and cannot get what you are saying. What does “based” mean in this context?

Starbuck
Starbuck
7 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ah ok, I am not down with the kids. So I bow to your superior knowledge in that area!

haton
haton
8 months ago

HAHA, Danke!
How do you pronounce ‘sus’?

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago

My first thought upon seeing Diggah after all those other loans from English was that it was imported as well from the n-word. The fact that it became popular from 90s Rap solidified that. However, I’m glad I looked it up because it actually (allegedly) comes from “Dicker”, the fat one! Much more interesting. Still won’t use it hahah.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Digger is used in Australian English as a word for a soldier, dating back to the first world war, presumably referring to all the trench digging that was done at that time.
It is used as a term of friendly address, by older Australian men, as in “Good day Digger!” is similar to “Hello mate”.
It is also used collectively for a group of soldiers, who would often be referred to as “the Diggers”.

pmccann
pmccann
8 months ago

Wow, it’s a bit weird that the first four are super familiar from English: (sheesh, for what it’s worth, seems to be just a euphemism for ‘Jesus’. Indeed, when I was young it was still somewhat taboo in a Catholic family situation to say “Jesus!” (or even “Oh God!”) as an expression of surprise or shock, and we used to try to say “Jees”, or “Sheezus” (and “gawd” or “gosh” instead of “God”). From there it’s a pretty straight road to “sheesh”. So anyway, *Diggah* is the clear winner in my book!

One question: I have no idea what the title is referring to. Is “being based” an expression that has maybe eluded me altogether? Is it a German thing? (Biased, maybe? Or *basic*?)

Offensichtlich passt mir die (Judend??:-)/Jugendsprache nicht!

pmccann
pmccann
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ugh/Eww/Ooh, thanks, I now know way more than I ever needed to about “based”, up to and including the point where it’s been adopted by the alt-right as a sort of opposite to “woke”.

Definitely shower time… Ich fuhle mich wirklich schmutzig.

Paul Ed
Paul Ed
8 months ago

When I write ‘wild’ I spell it ‘wild’, but in spoken use I would pronounce it ‘wyld’.

Starbuck
Starbuck
8 months ago

English is full of imported words, we just imported them a long time ago so we like to forget they are imported, especially in the case of french words where – unless you have a second home in Mayfair or you’re the queen or something – then you have to anglicise the pronunciation as much as possible otherwise you sound like you’ve got ideas above your station.

Starbuck
Starbuck
8 months ago
Reply to  Starbuck

E.g. croissant -> KWAssonn
Garage -> GArridge
Bon appetit -> bonn apperteet
Croque monsieur -> crock monnssyuurr

Its a hot mess and French people hate us for it ^^

Elsa
Elsa
8 months ago
Reply to  Starbuck

And pain au chocolat —> pan o’chocolate ;)

syperk
syperk
8 months ago

Give it another few decades of linguistic mixing, and we’ll all just be able to speak English in Germany! Words going the other way seem a lot rarer – have there been any since Schadenfreude?

Slightly more relevant question: how are these imported words pronounced? Just like in English? Or is it, e.g. cringe -> krin-guh?

Nixen
Nixen
8 months ago

Danke dir für die gesponsert haben. 

As a student from a country with a low income, your generosity helped me to benefit this website ^^

Elsa
Elsa
8 months ago

Hello,

Let’s cringe at typos :)
“insisting on it not being an adjective definitely something” (insisting on it not being an adjective is definitely something)
“I’v enot heard” (surplus e)

The Oxford English word of the year for 2021 (and I DON’T WANT to get into a debate) is “vax”, although lots of people (myself included) spell it with a double “x” – don’t know why, maybe it’s the under-29 version :)

Bis morgen!

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  Elsa

“vaxx” is more exxtreme Diggah

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

This is starting to sound like people’s orders at StarbuxXx

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Hab voll Post Traumatic Stress Diggaaahhhhhhhh

sarah
sarah
8 months ago
Reply to  Elsa

‘I’v enot’ is not a surplus e but a misplaced space. Soll sein: ‘I’ve not’

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago

NUMPTY was voted the best word in Scotland a few years ago – its meaning is… a big daft, useless, clumsy person!

Salome
Salome
8 months ago

Ich war sehr irritiert als ich JuDendwort gesehen habe.. aber auch gespannt.

Olga
Olga
8 months ago

Sheesh, so überraschend! Das Ausrufewort “tshüüüüsh” klingt genau wie das russische Wort “чушь”, das “Blödsinn” bedeutet.
Danke Dir, Emanuel, für den tollen Advent Calendar! 

Olga
Olga
7 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Wenn man emotionell übertrieben ausspricht, dann kann es ein verlängerter Vokal sein. Normalerweise ist die Lange des Vokals ‘у’ im russischen Wort ‘чушь’ wie ungefähr im deutschen Wort ‘tun’.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago

The “diggah” audio just made my morning

Might actually need to bookmark this post and listen to it every morning

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Haha I could get into that, although I pretty much always have the ringer off

Annette
Annette
8 months ago

The Oxford dictionary word of the year in Australia is ‘strollout’. It refers to the very slow rollout of the COVID vaccination in my country. Stroll + rollout.

Pia
Pia
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I think it is the media who invent these words, particularly the people who make the headlines. The media certainly promotes them. I love the word Denglisch.or Denglish

Ali
Ali
8 months ago

Hi Emmanuel,
Thanks for this, but-cringe-
shouldn’t that be ‘Jugendwort’ throughout, rather than ‘Judendwort’ although I’d be interested to hear what the Jewish word of the year is

Ora
Ora
8 months ago
Reply to  Ali

My thoughts exactly! :) Though if it was Jewish, it shouldn’t have the second D.

stee pedro
stee pedro
8 months ago
Reply to  Ali

oi Weh!

Amerikanskan
Amerikanskan
8 months ago

Sheesh has been common kan AE since I can remember. 70’s/80’s.

Digga is im Podcast ”Bratwurst & Baklawa” heufig benutzt von Özcan Cozar. Er ist der netteste Mensch der Welt und beihah der klugste.

Bastian Bielenorfer im selben Podcast is an der Grenze cringe zu sein. Er verdient Promi zu sein aber er ist cringe.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  Amerikanskan

Yeah, “sheesh” is super-common. It’s interesting, I don’t know that I think of it really as a word at all – more just sort of a sound of exasperation.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago

HA! Oh happy days… I starting reading and guess what?! you wrote JuGendWort. I feel all better now. (you still added the ‘d’)

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago

Doesn’t “Juden” mean Jewish/Jew in German? So… Judendwort means young people?? Sorry, I am bit confused because I would have guessed Jugenwort, though I am not sure what I would do with that second “d’ that you have. Can you clarify? :-)

M. H.
M. H.
8 months ago

Nicht judenwort