In a year which saw a football World Cup, the top word in the Swiss-German speaking part of the country was “Doppeladler” (double eagle gesture), while its Italian equivalent (“gesto dell'aquila”) was nominated the top word in the Italian-speaking part of the country.
The unusual term has its origins in a World Cup match between Switzerland and Serbia in June which saw the Swiss team snatch a last-gasp victory.
During the match, Swiss players Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka, both of whom have a Kosovo Albanian background, controversially celebrated their goals by making a hand gesture representing the “double eagle” of the Albanian flag.
Doppeladler ist das Schweizer Wort des Jahres: Xhakas und Shaqiris Geste löste grosse Debatte aus. https://t.co/UeIc6hBxnN
— 20 Minuten (@20min) December 6, 2018
The use of the gesture was read by many as a provocative act given Kosovo was a former province of their opponents Serbia.
The “double eagle” gesture also sparked a debate about dual nationality in Switzerland with some questioning the loyalty of the players who used it to the Swiss flag.
Stress in the French-speaking part of the country
Meanwhile, the number one word for 2018 in the French-speaking part of the country was “charge mentale” which translates into something like “mental burden” or “mental stress” and describes the 21st century feeling of having to think about everything, all the time, everywhere.
The process of selecting the Swiss words of the year for 2018 was overseen by the applied linguistics department of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW).
Three juries (one for each language group) chose the words or terms based on an analysis of text databases, suggestions from the public and their own professional experience and judgement. Jurors then examined how the words had been used in Switzerland over 2018 and what changes they had made to society.
Other top words for 2018
The second and third-placed words in the German-speaking part of Switzerland were “Rahmenabkommen” (or framework agreement – a reference to a future deal between Switzerland on bilateral relations) and “079”, which comes from a song by Bern rappers Lo & Leduc and describes the tribulations of a man trying to contact a woman who has only given him the prefix (079) of her phone number.
For the Romandy, the second-placed word was “sécheresse” (drought), which gained prominence during a very hot and dry summer. The third top word was “infox”, a blend of “info” (news) and “intox” (brainwashing), used to describe a culture of fake news and alternative facts.
Last but by no means least, in Italian-speaking Switzerland, the second-placed term was “notte tropicale” (tropical nights), a meteorological term for nights that don’t dip below 20C and one that also got plenty of use during the hot summer of 2018. Meanwhile, the third-placed word was “criptovalute” or cryptocurrencies, another subject that was very much in the news this year.
ZHAW took over responsibility for selecting the Swiss word of the year in 2017. This year is the first time Italian words were included, while a top word from Romansh – Switzerland’s fourth national language – will be selected next year.