If you associate Switzerland only with chocolate, cuckoo clocks, and secret bank accounts, you're missing the real news. A jury of journalists recently announced that the 2007 word of the year in German-speaking Switzerland is Sterbetourismus, which translates to "death tourism." Swiss law "tolerates assisted suicide when the patient commits the act and the helper has no direct interest," according to SwissInfo.ch. Several Swiss organizations help terminally ill patients choose how to die; one of them, Dignitas, accepts foreign patients. Since 1998, Dignitas has helped about 800 people--10 percent of them from Britain--to end their lives.
(Etymology note: Sterbe, from the German word meaning to die, is related to English starve, which meant "to die of cold" until the 14th century. The English meaning of "to kill with hunger" was first recorded in 1530.)
Other "important words" on the Swiss-German list:
Problembär (problem bear): the appearance of a couple of brown bears in eastern Switzerland led to "irritation on the part of farmers and borderline hysteria on the part of everyone else."
Randgruppenmanagement (fringe group management): "often appears in documents dealing with security in public places. The jury expects this term to become a regular in politicians' speeches."
Taschenmunition (ammunition): the ammunition each Swiss soldier is required to keep at home. Such weapons are involved in the deaths of more than 300 people each year in Switzerland.
The jury also designated an "Unword of the Year": Klimakompensation (climate compensation). According to SwissInfo.ch, "This means for example sitting on a plane with a clear conscience in the knowledge that you have chipped in to a tree-planting project somewhere in the world."
Via Chintu the Whiz Kid. (Yes, I get my Swiss news from a blogger in Bangalore. Viva globalism!)