‘An enrichment of German language:’ ‘influencer’ is Anglicism of the Year

A jury of linguists has chosen the word “influencer” as the Anglicism of the Year for 2017.

‘An enrichment of German language:’ ‘influencer’ is Anglicism of the Year
YouTuber Shirin David is one of the most popular influencers in Germany. Photo: DPA

The term is increasingly being used by Germans and it closes a gap in German vocabulary, linguist and jury chairperson Anatol Stefanowitsch said on Tuesday.

The word influencer is an “enrichment for the German language” because among other things, it fills a lexical gap created by cultural or technical change, the Anglicism of the Year initiative states on its website.

Cambridge Dictionary defines influencers as people who affect or change the way others behave. Influencers these days often have a large reach on social media and they range from bloggers to YouTubers.

But the English-language word isn’t new, says Anglicism of the Year, as it’s been in use since the 17th century. At this time, it referred to people with institutional power, such as heads of state and church, and was later extended to people whose influence lies in the authority vested in them, the initiative adds.

According to the jury, use of the term in Germany has grown over the past ten years. Whereas it was initially used as a niche term in the advertising industry, its use gradually spread.

“In 2017, its frequency of use had multiplied by leaps and bounds,” the initiative states. According to the Institute for German Language, nowadays two occurrences of the word influencer can be seen for every one million words in newspaper texts.

In second and third place for Anglicism of the Year are the terms “blockchain” and “nice,” respectively. A total of 51 words were presented to the jury.

In a vote among the audience, influencer also led the way with 20 percent, ahead of “hate speech” which had 14 percent of the vote.

The independent Anglicism of the Year initiative has acknowledged the positive contribution of English to the development of German vocabulary since 2010. Previous winning terms include “Fake News” in 2016, “Refugees Welcome” in 2015 and “Blackfacing” in 2014.

For members


Italian expression of the day: ‘Qualcosa non torna’

Does this phrase add up to you?

Italian expression of the day: 'Qualcosa non torna'

Ever get the feeling that things aren’t quite right, that perhaps you’re missing something, that something fishy might be going on?

In Italian you can express that with the phrase qualcosa non torna (‘qual-KOH-zah-non-TORR-na’).

Qualcosa you’ll probably recognise as meaning ‘something’, and non of course here means ‘doesn’t’, so the slight wild card for anglophones is the verb torna.

That’s because tornare means ‘to return’ in most contexts – but it can also mean to balance, to add up.

Ho calcolato le spese, il conto torna.
I added up the costs, the bill checks out.

I conti dell’azienda tornano.
The company’s accounts add up.

The Math Seems To Check Out! GIF - The House Will Ferrell The Math Seems To Check Out GIFs

The word can also refer more nebulously to something sounding or feeling right – or not.

Secondo me c’è qualche parte del mio discorso che ancora non torna.
I think there are parts of my speech that still aren’t quite right.

And when something doesn’t torna – that’s when you know things are off. It’s the kind of expression you’re likely to hear in detective shows or true crime podcasts. 

Qualcosa non torna nel loro racconto.
Something about their story’s off.

C’è solo una cosa che non torna.
There’s just one thing that doesn’t add up.

It’s similar to how we can talk in English about someone’s account of an event not ‘squaring’ with the facts, and in fact you can also use that metaphor in Italian – qualcosa non quadra (‘qual-KOH-zah-non-QUAHD-ra’) – to mean the same thing as qualcosa non torna.

Trash Italiano Simona Ventura GIF - Trash Italiano Simona Ventura Qualcosa Non Quadra GIFs

You can adjust either phrase slightly to say ‘things don’t add up’, in the plural: this time you’ll want le cose instead of qualcosa, and to conjugate the tornare or the quadrare in their plural forms.

Ci sono molte cose che non tornano in quest’affare.
There are a lot of things about this affair that don’t add up.

Le loro storie non quadrano.
Their stories don’t square.

You can also add pronouns into the phrase to talk about something seeming off ‘to you’ or anyone else.

La sua storia ti torna?
Does his story add up to you?

C’è qualcosa in tutto questo che non mi torna.
There’s something about all this that doesn’t seem right to me.

alfonso qualcosa non mi torna GIF by Isola dei Famosi

The next time something strange is afoot, you’ll know just how to talk about it in Italian. Montalbano, move aside…

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.