Jury of the “Sprachkritischen Aktion”: “Pushback” is a bad word of the year 2021

Status: 12.01.2022 10:42 a.m.

The term “pushback” is the bad word of the year 2021. It glossed over a process of deportation that deprived people of the opportunity to exercise their basic right to asylum, the jury justified the judgment.

The term “pushback” has been chosen as the foreboding word of the year 2021. The English term for “push back, push back” describes the practice of Europe’s border troops to reject refugees at the border, said the jury spokeswoman for the “language-critical campaign”, Constanze Spieß.

With the use of the expression “a misanthropic process is glossed over, which deprives people on the run of the possibility of exercising the human and fundamental right to asylum”, continued Spieß. The jury, consisting mainly of linguists, wants to use the bad word of the year to draw attention to inappropriate, disguised or defamatory public use of language.

The term “language police” takes second place

The jury placed the term “language police” in second place among the non-words. This would defame people who, among other things, advocate an appropriate, fairer and non-discriminatory use of language. In third place came comparisons with National Socialism, which were used by vaccination opponents in the course of the corona demonstrations – for example “Impfnazi” or “Enabling Act” for the Infection Protection Act.

The jury selected the bad word from numerous suggestions that interested parties had submitted by the end of 2021. There were a total of around 1300 submissions with 454 different terms, of which almost 45 met the criteria. The most frequent submissions were therefore many related to the corona pandemic such as “boosters”, “Covidiot” or “tyranny of the unvaccinated”.

2020 for the first time two forbidden words of the year

For the first time in 2020, two terms were chosen as the forbidden words of the year: “Corona dictatorship” and “Repatriation sponsorships”. In 2019 “climate hysteria” was the bullshit of the year, in 2018 “anti-deportation industry”. In 2017 the jury made the phrase “alternative facts” the unword of the year, in 2016 it was the term “traitor to the people”.


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