The United States isn't the only country that selects words of the year. Here's a roundup of some of the national words of the year selected so far:
Taiwan announced yesterday that its 2008 word of the year is luan, the Chinese character for "chaos." The word was chosen by popular vote; of the 61,624 people who voted, 7,936 chose luan. The WOTY contest was run by a private foundation and a newspaper, United Daily News, which offered a shortlist of 72 Chinese characters from which the public was invited to select one that summarized the situation in Taiwan this year.
Our next stop is the Netherlands, where we visit the colorful category of "There's a Word for THAT?" Swaffelen is the Dutch word of the year; according to a press release, it means "to swing one's penis, making it bump against something, in order to stimulate either oneself or someone else." The word "gained notoriety through a video posted on YouTube, in which a Dutch student got arrested for 'swaffling' against the Taj Mahal in India." (Yes, it's apparently a loan word from English, presumably British English. I'd never heard of it.) As for why and how the word was selected:
(Hat tip: Wishydig.)
Perhaps using a variant of the Orthodox calendar, Russia announced its 2007 word of the year— glamour— in August 2008. It was the first time a word of the year had been chosen in Russia; the selection is, of course, another loan word. According to Moscow News, "glamour" reflects "a dominant trend of the domestic cultural literature." (Hat tip: The Web of Language.)
In Japan, the publishing company Jiyu Kokuminsha selected the 10 trendiest Japanese words and phrases of 2008. Number one: "gu~!", a bastardization of English "good" and "the signature line of comedienne Edo Harumi, which she usually delivers while giving an exaggerated thumbs-up gesture." Read about last year's Japanese buzzwords here.
The Japanese character of the year is "hen," which translates to change. Last Sunday, in an annual ceremony at Kiyomizu temple, chief monk Seihan Mori brushstroked the character before an audience of tourists.
The German publishing house Langenscheidt, which probably does not mean what you think it means, has announced its top 15 "youth words" of the year. Topping the list is the text-message-unfriendly Gammelfleischparty, which translates to "spoiled meat party." The spoiled meat, in this context, is "people over 30." Ergo: a Gammelfleischparty is any party attended by old folks. Thanks a bunch, kids. Now get off my lawn! (My personal favorite on the list is unter-hopft, or "underhopped": the condition of not having drunk enough beer.) (Hat tip: The Virtual Linguist.)
Still unannounced: the (grown-up) German word of the year. Last year's pick was Klimakatastrophe, or "climate catastrophe." Used in a sentence: "Al Gore invited me to a Gammelfleischparty for the Klimakatastrophe, but I said no thanks, dude. All those geezers at Al's parties are totally unter-hopft and boring."