Tuesday, 16 December 2008

"Swaffelen" elected as "new word of the year" 2008

In the annual contest for "new word of the year", the Dutch have elected a verb – swaffelen - as the word of the year. It netted 57 percent of the 16,000 votes on the website hosted by Van Dale Publishers, renowned for its authoritative dictionaries. Swaffelen is something only men can do. I really didn't know, but apparently, it means to swing one's penis, making it bump against something, in order to stimulate either oneself or someone else. I found out that Dutch youths are holding contests to swaffel important buildings. Dutch lexicologist Ton den Boon says that etymologically, swaffelen is thought to be linked to the Dutch equivalents of swing, sway and sweep, and to the German equivalent of tail or penis (schwaf and schweif). There is also a Flemish dialect word known as zwaffelen. The word gained notoriety through a video posted on YouTube, in which a Dutch student got arrested for swaffling against the Taj Mahal in India. As voters did not have to justify their choice of nomination in the event, it remains a mystery why the Dutch chose this word. The numbers two and three Dutch words of the year are wiiën (playing on a Wii game console) and bankendomino (banks falling over like dominoes).

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