Germans choose ugliest word

German linguists, always on guard to protect the language, announced on Tuesday that “Humankapital”—“human capital”—was the “ugly word” of 2004, in their view.

The jury of linguists said the term, typical of the compound words found in the German language, is degrading to employees and reduces people “merely to an economically quantifiable size”.

Humankapital” was chosen from 1 218 entries.

In 2003, the ugliest word was “Taetervolk”—“perpetrator nation”—a term used in a controversial speech by a conservative politician to accuse Jews of being co-responsible for the world’s ills.

Every year, German linguists also choose a word or term that they view as the “word of the year” in having had a major place in the popular idiom.

The linguists recently named “Hartz IV”—the broad term used to describe Germany’s controversial social welfare reform package—as the word of the year 2004. The term is based on the name of the man who was the main architect of the reforms.—Sapa-DPA


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