A bimonthly magazine on international affairs, edited in Germany's capital

Words Don’t Come Easy: “Hotspots”


The euphemism for an emergency refugee processing center made its sudden debut in eurospeak in May 2015. The obfuscating misuse of the English term is troubling not least because “hot spot” previously referred to the kind of place refugees are escaping.


© Artwork: Dominik Herrmann

Weird things happen to the English language in Brussels. Even as the EU has accepted English as its lingua franca, the bureaucratese that gets churned out of Europe’s largest sausage factory often has native speakers scratching their heads – take “actorness” or “planification,” for example.

A few years ago, one translator in Brussels started publishing a helpful guide called Misused English Words and Expressions in EU Publications. Given the weight of Germany and France in the EU, Teutonisms and Gallicisms are the worst offenders. That eurocrats do not fully grasp the meaning of “important”, “punctual”, or “coherent” may not come as a surprise. But that they are also struggling with the correct usage of “agenda” and “of” is troubling, to say the least. …

Read more in the Berlin Policy Journal App – May/June 2016 issue.