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The Top Words of 2010: Non-English Edition

Written By: daveski on November 15, 2010 6 Comments

I saw news from the good folks over at Langology that the Global Language Monitor has already published its Top Words of 2010 list. The top 3 results they list from their “annual global survey of the English language” are: “Spillcam”, from the BP oil spill coverage; “vuvuzela” of World Cup fame; and “The Narrative”, as employed by political parties in the current day and age. The site also lists “The Top Phrases of 2010” and “The Top Names of 2009” (2010?), all of which are definitely worth a look. And, considering that it’s only the middle of November, we’re likely to see many more such lists appearing in coming weeks.

But doesn’t it feel like something is already missing here? No, I’m not just talking about the fact that there’s no mention of the methods used and the scale of the GLM survey. I’m talking about the assumption that the “Top 10 Words of 2010” should necessarily be in English! (well, we can argue about “vuvuzela”…)

Seriously, at a time when we often see articles telling us that we are living in the age of language death, and that English has the most vocabulary and greatest number of synonyms of all languages in the world, shouldn’t there be a list of the top words in other languages? After all, folks, this is International Education Week and all…

Well, here’s your chance to make that list! Please add comments below with your vote for the Top (non-English) Words of 2010. Teach us a word and how to spell it or say it, tell us a little about what it means, why it’s popular, where you heard it or read it or how you learned it. And even if you don’t know these things–and even if you’re just starting to learn a new language and your word might not be all that trendy this year in fact, or if it actually dates from 2008 or 1694–introduce us to your word and something special about it.

Thanks, everyone! And, in the meantime: bzzzzzzzzzzz….


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6 Responses to “The Top Words of 2010: Non-English Edition”

  1. Virve on: 15 November 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Well, Finnish is of course the perfect language for slightly odd looking and long words. I moved back to Finland a year ago and now I live in an area in Helsinki (the capital of Finland) that is called Töölö. After having moved here, I came up with my new favorite word, which is: “töölöläistyttyäni”. It means something like “after having become a real Töölö inhabitant”. If someone knows how to come up with English pronunciation instructions for the word, please feel free to add them here!

  2. yuko on: 15 November 2010 at 8:43 pm

    One Japanese word I see often in newspapers and internet these days is ”イクメン(IKUMEN)” meaning that men who participate in raising their children.
    Here is some explaination of IKUMEN.

    The existance of this new word actually shows how much Japanese men haven’t been involved in raising their kids now and before.
    Osaka governer is known as IKUMEN and he took few days off when his wife had their baby a while ago. and That became a news.
    IKUMEN are still a rare species in Japan.

  3. daveski on: 17 November 2010 at 1:40 pm

    @Virve, maybe you can upload or direct us to a sound file so we can practice saying “töölöläistyttyäni”? Would “after having become a real Berkeley inhabitant” be “Berkeleyläistyttyäni”? 🙂
    @Yuko, it’s interesting reading your introduction to this word and the article here, and the story about the Osaka governor (couldn’t have been Tokyo, right?) that it seemed like it was reflecting a broad trend. But then in your last sentence, “a rare species”, seems to say…not yet! I guess if men start being more involved in bringing up their kids, the word might disappear too??

  4. yuko on: 17 November 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Yes, I think so. If there is no difference between “Otoko(men)” and “ikumen”, one of them will not be needed..

  5. Raghda on: 18 November 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I find the word “kabar” ,used in Egypt, an intersting word. its literal eamning is “make it bigger” but the expression “kabar” by itself usually means move on and don’t bother yourself with any thing that is not worth it. so it is kind of saying “make your brain bigger”

  6. Diana Arya on: 20 November 2010 at 4:03 am

    Norwegians have two different words for “education,” one that means the traditional, school-type learning (utdanning) and another that reflects a broadening of perspective on life and culture . . . dannelse. It is expected that once out of high school, students will take a year or two to explore the larger world–live in a foreign land, experience what it’s like to “walk in another’s shoes.” Both of these words have importance, and “dannelse” has way more importance to Norwegians than to Americans. This is obvious, since we can describe this type of education but don’t have a good English label for it.

    So, I’m nominating “dannelse” for Top Word status. Imagine what the world would be like if all existing languages had such a word . . .

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