New Spanish vocabulary from “la crisis”

I enjoyed a recent article in the New York Times about new economic-crisis-inspired vocabulary in Spanish and other European languages. The Spanish terms mentioned are the following. I’ve included glosses for non-transparent meanings, and links where available.

  • los hombres de negro: European Union officials
  • prima de riesgo
  • bonus (a borrowing from English)
  • burbuja in the sense of an economic bubble
  • población activa: working population
  • ni-ni: a young person neither studying nor working (my favorite on this list)
  • indignado: economic protester
  • yayoflauta: an older person who protests on behalf of younger people
  • marea blanca: protester from the medical community
  • troika: IMF, ECB, and EC

This cartoon illustrates both “yayoflauta” and “indignado”. Make sure to check out the other cartoons on the site.

According to the Times article, the Real Academia Española, or RAE (the international Spanish language Academy) has added or modified 200 crisis-inspired words this year, including several of those above. Being a big fan of the RAE, I went onto their website to confirm the Times‘s reporting. I found two contradictions: neither serious, but I’m listing them just to be thorough.

  • The Times reports that población activa refers to people old enough to work, but the RAE definition (see link above) doesn’t mention age. Also, this is not a recent addition or modification.
  • I couldn’t find prima de riesgo in the RAE, although the dictionary recently added nine (!!!) other new risk-related expressions.

A technical note: some of the links above are to special pages on the RAE website for new or modified words. It’s possible that these links will malfunction once the new words or meanings are incorporated into the main RAE dictionary. In that case, you will be able to find them using the normal RAE search page.

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