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Original scientific paper

Vesna Muhvić-Dimanovski

Anita Skelin Horvat

 

Summary

During the last 15 years the Croatian linguistic journal Jezik has been organizing contests for the best words which had appeared in the previous year or has encouraged the readers to find replacements for unnecessary loan words or those native words which – because of some features – did not meet the requirements of the Croatian language system. Such contests or nominations very often bring about numerous comments and are frequently perceived from a rather negative position. Many people find them inappropriate because they link them exclusively with purist language attitudes and have the impression that such type of contest is specific just of this journal. Examples from a number of other languages, however, show that contests and nominations for the best, the most prominent, the most imaginative, the most (un)necessary or even the worst words is something that is quite common regardless of whether a language has a strong purist tradition or is, on the contrary, open to all possible foreign influences. The article brings an overview of various types of contests and similar activities in several countries, deals with criteria that are being set in these contests, and gives examples of words that were chosen as the best ones within certain categories. The aim of the contribution is to show to what extent the so called average speakers of a language can be perceived as active participants in the evaluation of the newly coined words, what their opinion about certain proposals is and can one expect that the reactions of the wider public will influence the use of new words. The article is primarily focused on the Croatian situation and the reaction of the media to the final results of the contest for new words published in Jezik in June 2007.

 

Keywords

Jezik (journal); contest for new words; linguistic purism; neologisms; Croatian

 

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