Spanish word of the year: “aporofobia,” fear of poor people

The English language has its share of words of 2017:

youthquake according to the Oxford Dictionaries, due to the voting patterns in the UK’s June general election;
complicit, according to Dictionary.com, due to three spikes of interest in the word related to US politics; and
feminism, according to Merriam-Webster, again due to spikes of interest related to US politics, as well as to the TV series The Handmaid’s Tale and the movie Wonder Woman, and to the #MeToo revelations of widespread sexual harassment in the workplace, which have come as a shock to absolutely everyone except women and girls.

In Spain, the Fundéu BBVA provides recommendations for grammar and usage for “urgent Spanish,” that is, words and expressions related to the news. Its 2017 word of the year is aporofobia, a newly coined word for fear, rejection, and aversion to poor people.

The word was introduced by Adela Cortina, a philosopher in Valencia, Spain, in several articles in the press calling attention to the idea that the apparent rejection of people due to their race or status as immigrants or refugees, is really due to their poverty. “It’s necessary to give a name to a phenomena that exists and is corrosive,” she said.

“Sadly,” said the director of the Fundéu BBVA, Joaquín Muller, “aporofobia has been in the news throughout 2017 due to the drama of immigration in different parts of the world, the impoverishment of large parts of society in many countries … and the attitude of some leaders and citizens. These attitudes clearly show rejection and aversion to poor people and to poverty.”

Fundéu BBVA’s runners-up for 2017 are: aprendibilidad (learnability), bitcóin (bitcoin), destripe (spoiler, as in a movie review), machoexplicación (mansplaining), noticias falsas (fake news), odiador (hater), soñadores (dreamers), superbacteria (superbacteria), trans (trans, as in “transgender”), turismofobia (fear of tourism: Spain gets a lot of tourists, perhaps too many), and uberización (Uberization).

Last year, the word of the year for Fundéu was populismo (populism), and in 2015, refugiado (refugee). Some issues capture world-wide attention and some are local, and they all mark our languages as they develop and change. This year’s words have had a decidedly political focus.

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