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11 Words of the Year from Around the World

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The U.S. words of the year for 2015 included “face with tears of joy emoji,” ismand singular they. But we aren’t the only ones who wrap up the year by thinking about the words that defined it. Here are words of the year from other countries. 

1. ÖGONKRAMP // SWEDEN 

The Swedish Language Council doesn’t just pick one word of the year, but puts out a whole list of the year’s new words. Ögonkramp caught my eye. It means “eye cramp”—something you can get when staring at your phone screen for too long. Also featured were rattsurfa (“wheel surfing,” for using phone while driving), transitflykting (“transit refugee,” for a refugee just passing through the country on the way to somewhere else), svajpa (approximation of English “swipe,” for motion used to select or reject in dating apps), and the verb dumpstra (“to dumpster,” for dumpster diving).

2. FLÜCHTLINGE // GERMANY

Germany has taken in over half a million refugees this year, making the word for refugees, flüchtlinge, the obvious choice for word of the year. The German Language Council cites not just its political importance, but also its interesting linguistic structure, joining the verb for “flee” with the –ling ending. Because that ending is found in many words with a disdainful or belittling meaning, it has been suggested that geflüchteten (fugitives) might be a better choice. Other finalists were Je Suis Charlie (a statement of support after the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris), mogel-motor (“cheat motor,” in reference to the VW scandal where CO2 emissions were inaccurately measured), and selfie-stab (“selfie stick”).

3. FLYGTNINGESTRØMME // DENMARK

Denmark’s choice also referred to the large numbers of refugees coming through Europe this year with flygtningestrømme (“refugee flow”), beating deleøkonomi (“sharing economy") and grænse (limit).

4. REFUGIADO // SPAIN

Spain also chose to focus on the refugee crisis by making “refugee” its word of the year. Other words considered were chikunguña (a mosquito borne virus that appeared in Spain for the first time this year) and gastroneta (“food truck,” a shortening of gastronomía and camioneta).

5. SJOEMELSOFTWARE // NETHERLANDS

In the Netherlands, the Van Dale dictionary group chose sjoemelsoftware (“tamper software”) to refer to the VW scandal, where software was used to cheat on measurement results for carbon emissions. It beat poortjesspringer (“gate jumper,” someone who jumps a turnstile to avoid paying a fare) and je suis… (for phrases coined in solidarity with victims of terror attacks). 

6. LAÏCITÉ AND LIBERTÉ D’EXPRESSION // FRANCE

At the annual XYZ Festival of New Words in Le Havre, France, there were two choices for word of the year. Laïcité (“secularity”) and liberté d’expression (“freedom of expression”) were selected for their representation of the “fundamental values of democracy and the republic.” 

7. SHARING ECONOMY // AUSTRALIA

Fierce debates about the ride-sharing service Uber after its introduction in Australia brought sharing economy to prominence there this year, leading the Australian National Dictionary Centre to choose it as word of the year. Other words considered were dark web, marriage equality, and lawfare, formed on analogy with warfare, to describe the abuse of the legal system by using it to win political battles.

8. 廉 (INCORRUPT) // CHINA

The Chinese character of the year refers to President Xi Jinping’s anticorruption efforts, which picked up steam this year.

9. 耀 (SHINE, GLORY) // SINGAPORE

Lianhe Zao Bao, the Chinese language newspaper in Singapore, conducted a poll of its readers, who chose this character as the word of the year. It is the last character in the name of Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, who died this year.

10. 苦 (BITTER) // MALAYSIA

The mood in Malaysia was grim this year. Over 14,000 Malaysians responded to a poll by Chinese-Malaysian culture organizations, and while 苦(bitter) was the winner, 捐(tax), 乱(unrest), 跌(crash), 耻(shame), 霾(smog), and 震(quake) were also in the running.

11. 安 (SECURITY) // JAPAN

In Japan, the kanji of the year, chosen by a public poll, can stand for “contentment,” “peace,” “safety,” and “security.” It was chosen for its association with various worries about international terrorism and national security bills in parliament, which protesters argued might endanger the peace Japan has enjoyed for decades.

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Yes, You Can Put Your Christmas Decorations Up Now—and Should, According to Psychologists
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We all know at least one of those people who's already placing an angel on top of his or her Christmas tree while everyone else on the block still has paper ghosts stuck to their windows and a rotting pumpkin on the stoop. Maybe it’s your neighbor; maybe it’s you. Jolliness aside, these early decorators tend to get a bad rap. For some people, the holidays provide more stress than splendor, so the sight of that first plastic reindeer on a neighbor's roof isn't exactly a welcome one.

But according to two psychoanalysts, these eager decorators aren’t eccentric—they’re simply happier. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told UNILAD:

“Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.

In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood.

Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend the excitement!”

Amy Morin, another psychoanalyst, linked Christmas decorations with the pleasures of childhood, telling the site: “The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity. For many, putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.”

She also explained that these nostalgic memories can help remind people of spending the holidays with loved ones who have since passed away. As Morin remarked, “Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”

And that neighbor of yours who has already been decorated since Halloween? Well, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, homes that have been warmly decorated for the holidays make the residents appear more “friendly and cohesive” compared to non-decorated homes when observed by strangers. Basically, a little wreath can go a long way.

So if you want to hang those stockings before you’ve digested your Thanksgiving dinner, go ahead. You might just find yourself happier for it.

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11 Black Friday Purchases That Aren't Always The Best Deal
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Black Friday can bring out some of the best deals of the year (along with the worst in-store behavior), but that doesn't mean every advertised price is worth splurging on. While many shoppers are eager to save a few dollars and kickstart the holiday shopping season, some purchases are better left waiting for at least a few weeks (or longer).

1. FURNITURE

Display of outdoor furniture.
Photo by Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash

Black Friday is often the best time to scope out deals on large purchases—except for furniture. That's because newer furniture models and styles often appear in showrooms in February. According to Kurt Knutsson, a consumer technology expert, the best furniture deals can be found in January, and later on in July and August. If you're aiming for outdoor patio sets, expect to find knockout prices when outdoor furniture is discounted and put on clearance closer to Labor Day.

2. TOOLS

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Unless you're shopping for a specific tool as a Christmas gift, it's often better to wait until warmer weather rolls around to catch great deals. While some big-name brands offer Black Friday discounts, the best tool deals roll around in late spring and early summer, just in time for Memorial Day and Father's Day.

3. BEDDING AND LINENS

A stack of bed linens.
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Sheet and bedding sets are often used as doorbuster items for Black Friday sales, but that doesn't mean you should splurge now. Instead, wait for annual linen sales—called white sales—to pop up after New Year's. Back in January of 1878, department store operator John Wanamaker held the first white sale as a way to push bedding inventory out of his stores. Since then, retailers have offered these top-of-the-year sales and January remains the best time to buy sheets, comforters, and other cozy bed linens.

4. HOLIDAY DÉCOR

Rows of holiday gnomes.
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If you are planning to snag a new Christmas tree, lights, or other festive décor, it's likely worth making due with what you have and snapping up new items after December 25. After the holidays, retailers are looking to quickly move out holiday items to make way for spring inventory, so ornaments, trees, yard inflatables, and other items often drastically drop in price, offering better deals than before the holidays. If you truly can't wait, the better option is shopping as close to Christmas as possible, when stores try to reduce their Christmas stock before resorting to clearance prices.

5. TOYS

Child choosing a toy car.
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Unless you're shopping for a very specific gift that's likely to sell out before the holidays, Black Friday toy deals often aren't the best time to fill your cart at toy stores. Stores often begin dropping toy prices two weeks before Christmas, meaning there's nothing wrong with saving all your shopping (and gift wrapping) until the last minute.

6. ENGAGEMENT RINGS AND JEWELRY

Rows of rings.
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Holiday jewelry commercials can be pretty persuasive when it comes to giving diamonds and gold as gifts. But, savvy shoppers can often get the best deals on baubles come spring and summer—prices tend to be at their highest between Christmas and Valentine's Day thanks to engagements and holiday gift-giving. But come March, prices begin to drop through the end of summer as jewelers see fewer purchases, making it worth passing up Black Friday deals.

7. PLANE TICKETS AND TRAVEL PACKAGES

Searching for flights online.
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While it's worth looking at plane ticket deals on Black Friday, it's not always the best idea to whip out your credit card. Despite some sales, the best time to purchase a flight is still between three weeks and three and a half months out. Some hotel sites will offer big deals after Thanksgiving and on Cyber Monday, but it doesn't mean you should spring for next year's vacation just yet. The best travel and accommodation deals often pop up in January and February when travel numbers are down.

8. FOOD AND SNACK BASKETS

Gift basket against a blue background.
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Fancy fruit, meat and cheese, and snack baskets are easy gifts for friends and family (or yourself, let's be honest), but they shouldn't be snagged on Black Friday. And because baskets are jam-packed full of perishables, you likely won't want to buy them a month away from the big day anyway. But traditionally, you'll spend less cheddar if you wait to make those purchases in December.

9. WINTER CLOTHING

Rack of women's winter clothing.
Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash.

Buying clothing out of season is usually a big money saver, and winter clothes are no exception. Although some brands push big discounts online and in-store, the best savings on coats, gloves, and other winter accessories can still be found right before Black Friday—pre-Thanksgiving apparel markdowns can hit nearly 30 percent off—and after the holidays.

10. SMARTPHONES

Group of hands holding smartphones.
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While blowout tech sales are often reserved for Cyber Monday, retailers will try to pull you in-store with big electronics discounts on Black Friday. But, not all of them are really the best deals. The price for new iPhones, for example, may not budge much (if at all) the day after Thanksgiving. If you're in the market for a new phone, the best option might be waiting at least a few more weeks as prices on older models drop. Or, you can wait for bundle deals that crop up during December, where you pay standard retail price but receive free accessories or gift cards along with your new phone.

11. KITCHEN GADGETS

Row of hanging kitchen knives and utensils.
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Black Friday is a great shopping day for cooking enthusiasts—at least for those who are picky about their kitchen appliances. Name-brand tools and appliances often see good sales, since stores drop prices upwards of 40 to 50 percent to move through more inventory. But that doesn't mean all slow cookers, coffee makers, and utensil prices are the best deals. Many stores advertise no-name kitchen items that are often cheaply made and cheaply priced. Purchasing these lower-grade items can be a waste of money, even on Black Friday, since chances are you may be stuck looking for a replacement next year. And while shoppers love to find deals, the whole point of America's unofficial shopping holiday is to save money on products you truly want (and love).

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