Word of the Week: Postfaktisch

Dec 9, 2016

Postfaktisch Enlarge image (© picture alliance / Susann Prauts)

Most weeks, we introduce you to funny, strange or unusual German words that have existed for a long time. But new words are continuously added to the German language. One such word is postfaktisch.

This is a new word that was immensely popular in both English and German throughout 2016. Its English equivalent is "post-factual".

Postfaktisch Enlarge image (© picture alliance / Susann Prauts)

Literally translated, the term means "post-facts" or "behind the facts", but a better translation would be "counter to the facts" or "anti-facts". The adjective is used to describe a political culture in which people are more influenced by their emotions and personal opinions than by facts. In a "post-factual" political culture, people are more likely to listen to their emotions and consequentially accept lies if these lies support their beliefs. The term was used tremendously in both English and German around the time of the Brexit, the US presidential election and in the context of European populist movements.

The English word ("post-truth") was selected by the Oxford Dictionaries as the International Word of the Year and the German word was unanimously chosen as the German Word of the Year by the Society for the German Language in Wiesbaden (GfdS). In second and third place were the words Brexit and Silvesternacht.

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

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