‘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.


Italian word of the day: ‘Inchiodare’

You'll nail this word in no time.

Italian word of the day: 'Inchiodare'

What do a carpenter, a detective, and a bank robber screeching to a halt in their getaway car all have in common?

In English, not much – but in Italian, they could all be said to inchiodare (eenk-ee-ohd-AHR-eh) in the course of their professional activities.

In its simplest form, inchiodare simply means ‘to nail’ (chiodo, ‘kee-OH-do’, is a nail) – a picture to a wall, or a leg to a table.

Ha trovato questo cartello inchiodato alla sua porta.
She found this notice nailed to her door.

Inchioderò la mensola al muro più tardi.
I’ll nail the shelf to the wall later.

But like ‘to nail’, inchiodare has more than one definition.

You can use it to describe someone or something being ‘pinned’ in place, without actually having been literally nailed there.

Mi ha inchiodato al muro.
He pinned me to the wall.

La mia gamba è inchiodata al terreno.
My leg is pinned to the ground.

You can be metaphorically inchiodato to a place in the sense of being stuck there, tied down, or trapped.

Dovrei essere in vacanza e invece sono inchiodata alla mia scrivenia.
I should be on holiday and instead I’m stuck at my desk.

Don'T Forger You'Re Here Forever GIF - The Simpsons Mr Burns Youre Here GIFs

Siamo inchiodati a questa scuola per altri tre anni.
We’re stuck at this school for another three years.

Sono stati inchiodati dal fuoco di armi.
They were trapped by gunfire.

Just like in English, you can inchiodare (‘nail’) someone in the sense of proving their guilt.

Chiunque sia stato, ha lasciato tracce di DNA che lo inchioderanno.
Whoever it was, they left traces of DNA that will take them down.

Ti inchioderò per questo omicidio.
I’m going to nail you for this murder.

Thomas Sadoski Tommy GIF by CBS

Senza la pistola non lo inchioderemo, perché non abbiamo altre prove.
Without the gun we’re not going to get him, because we have no other proof.

For reasons that are less clear, the word can also mean to slam on the brakes in a car.

Ha inchiodato e ha afferrato la pistola quando ha visto la volante bloccando la strada.
He slammed on the brakes and grabbed the gun when he saw the police car blocking the road.

Hanno inchiodato la macchina a pochi passi da noi.
They screeched to a halt in the car just a few feet away from us.

Those last two definitions mean that you’re very likely to encounter the word when watching mystery shows or listening to true crime podcasts. Look out for it the next time you watch a detective drama.

In the meantime, have a think about what (or who) you can inchiodare this week.

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