Spain’s prestigious language foundation Fundéu BBVA has chosen aporofobia as its word of the year, a title usually given to new or trending terms that influenced the language Spaniards used.
Previous winners include selfi (that’s without an “e” at the end in Spanish), populism, refugee and escrache (a targeted demonstration outside the home or workplace of a public figure).
This year it’s different, however.
“It’s not a word that’s been coined in 2017, nor is it one that’s really known by the general public,” Fundeu’s director general Joaquín Muller is quoted as saying in left-leaning online Spanish daily El Diario.
“But it’s a voice, a neologism that we recommend here at Fundéu BBVA and that now the Royal Spanish Academy of language has decided to incorporate into its dictionaries.”
Fundéu BBVA credits Spanish philosopher Adela Cortina with coining and circulating aporofobia in the press to bring attention to the fact that xenophobia and racism are often used to explain the disdain shown towards migrants and refugees, when that aversion is often caused by their poverty status rather than for being foreign.
“It’s important to name things that haven’t been already to make them visible,” Muller adds.
“If they don’t, those realities can’t be defended or denounced.
“Unfortunately, aporofobia has been part of 2017’s news, it’s formed part of the migrant crisis, the widening rich-poor divide and the attitudes of some world leaders and a part of society towards these global trends.”
Aporofobia can be roughly translated into English as peniaphobia, a fear of poverty and poor people.
According to a 2015 OECD study, Spain had the fifth highest rate of inequality of the OECD countries in Europe, after the United Kingdom, Greece, Estonia and Portugal.
The economic crisis hit low-income Spaniards the hardest, according to the report, with the poorest 10 percent of the population losing 13 percent of their real incomes each year between 2007 and 2011. The top 10 percent, in comparison, lost 1.4 percent.