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Named: Spanish word of the year for 2013

George Mills · 30 Dec 2013, 12:47

Published: 30 Dec 2013 12:47 GMT+01:00

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Over the course of the last 12 months, Spain has seen a steady influx of new vocabulary, with words like 'autofoto' (selfie) and 'expapa' (or ex-Pope) entering the lexicon.

Now the Fundéu BBVA — a non-profit group that promotes the proper use of the Spanish language by the country's media — has sifted through these new words and chosen their winning word for 2013: 'escrache'.

The term escrache refers to a targeted demonstration outside the home or workplace of a public figure. It gained currency in Spain when the county's anti-evictions lobby, the PAH, used these tactics to protest against the country's home evictions laws.

The collapse of a property boom in 2008 and subsequent recession have driven Spain's unemployment rate over 26 percent, leaving many unable to pay mortgages on houses that have lost much of their value.

The PAH have campaigned heavily to try and ensure that people evicted from their homes have their bank debts cleared.

"We wanted a word which had a certain linguistic interest, whether it was because of its origin or who it's formed, and (a word) which has been widely used in recent months," said Fundéu BBVA Chairman Joaquín Muller in a statement. 

The noun escrache doesn't appear in Spain's official RAE dictionary although the verb 'escrachar' does. The word is listed as a colloquial term from the Uruguay and Argentina meaning to 'destroy' or 'crush', or 'to photograph someone'.

The word's origins are unclear with some people suggesting it comes from the Italian 'schiacciare' (to squash, or mash) while others say it comes from the English word 'to scratch'.

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Other words the Fundéu BBVA considered for the top word of the year include 'copago' — or joint payment for medicines — and 'bosón', for the Higgs boson particle.

The Fundéu BBVA consists of journalists, linguists, and translators, among others. It works together with Spanish news agency Efe, the BBVA bank, and Spanish royal language body, the Real  Academia Española to promote proper language use in Spain.

George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com)

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