DW has an interesting article about the German language and the faux pas contained within it. Each year a group of prominent linguists choose The Unwort des Jahres, or “German Faux Pas Word of the Year”. This year the award went to Opfer-Abo which translates into “victim subscription”.

The term was used by celebrity weatherman Jörg Kachelmann in several interviews to describe the way in which women in German society could further their own interests by making false accusations – including the charge of rape – against men. Kachelmann had been accused by his ex-girlfriend of raping her. Though he was later acquitted in court, the accusation destroyed his reputation.

Although in Kachelmann’s case it was found that a false accusation was made, the word entering the German vocabulary is a dangerous game meaning women who make truthful claims could be dismissed. The article also reveals what many would deem as discriminatory language being used to order beer and name party confectionery.

In pubs across Bavaria, people order “Negroes” or “Russians,” and receive a wheat beer mixed with cola or lemonade.

“Negro kisses” or “Moor heads,” a German adaptation from the French tête de nègre, or “negro head” – referring to candies made from marshmallows, chocolate and wafers – remain firm favorites at children’s birthday parties.

Many words were coined when racism and sexism were rampant and wide spread. It’s strange to see words left behind in the German language from those days. When one is brought up using these words it’s difficult for people to see the harmful effect they can have. This is why the “German Faux Pas Word of the Year” was founded. To make people stop and look at the language they are using.

via: DW