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WhatsApp? Spaniards wasapean their autofotos

It's not just English that's cursed with net-born neologisms

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English and the internet continue to exert their linguistic influence over the Spanish language, although an indigenous term has been named the Fundéu BBVA's word of the year for 2013.

The Fundéu BBVA - whose principal objectives include to "promote the correct use of Spanish in the media" - named escrache as its word of choice, elevating it to glory over a shortlist which included autofoto (selfie) and the improbable wasapear (to exchange messages via WhatsApp).

An escrache is described as "a popular demonstration against a public figure accused of serious crimes or corruption, generally outside their house or another public place the accused might frequent".

Originating in that sense in the 1990s in Argentina and Uruguay, as applied to demonstrations during investigations into dictatorial crimes, it jumped the Atlantic in 2013 when irate members of the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca - an anti-eviction for mortage non-payment group - adopted the same tactic against bankers and government ministers.

The Fundéu BBVA's director general, Joaquín Muller, said: "We were looking for a word of linguistic interest, either for its origin or how it's formed, and which has been widely used in recent months."

While the word's origins are "uncertain", the authoritative Diccionario de la Real Academia Española lists escrachar as a term from the River Plate area meaning "to break, destroy or squash", or "photograph someone".

While escrache looks pleasingly Castillian, and is possibly derived from Italian schiacciare (squash or mash), the Fundéu BBVA notes it could ultimately come from the English "scratch".

There's no doubt where wasapear comes from, and neither is much work required to determine the source of bosón (as in Higg's boson), or meme, all of which appeared in the Fundéu BBVA's shortlist of 12.

Also vying for the title were expapa (former Pope) - "a word which there'd been little opportunity to use during more than 2,000 years of the history of the Church, but which leapt onto front pages with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI" - copago (split or shared payment), emprender (launch a business), el/los ere/s (from the acronym ERE, or expediente de regulación de empleo, roughly "workforce adjustment plan"), quita (requisition of bank savings or shares), and austericidio (austerity-killing).

Evidently, Spain's economic crisis weighs heavily on the 2013 selection, but the shortlist's last entry is the highly esoteric cholismo - meaning "the footballing doctrine of Cholo". Cholo is the nickname of Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone, a former Argentinian international known for his energetic style. ®

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