January 12, 2012 / 5:16 PM / 9 years ago

Germans mock president with new "wulffen" verb

BERLIN (Reuters) - Don’t take it too kindly if your German friends start accusing you of “wulffen.”

German President Christian Wulff looks down during a New Year reception for public life representatives in the presidential Bellevue palace in Berlin, January 12, 2012. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

The new German verb refers to the manner in which scandal-plagued President Christian Wulff has sought to manage revelations that he accepted a favourable home loan from a businessman, holidayed at the villas of the wealthy and left a threatening message for the editor of Bild newspaper.

The neologism, which has spread rapidly over the internet, has two separate meanings, according to Holger Klatte, Director of the German Language Association in Dortmund.

“The first meaning is to talk on and on unprompted,” Klatte told Reuters.

The second use of the word is more complicated, and means to be evasive about a particular issue without telling a lie, he said.

“It means something in-between,” Klatte said.

The German head of state’s conduct has come under scrutiny after it was revealed in December he received a favourable home loan from a friend during his time as a state premier, prompting protests outside his Berlin residence.

This is not the first time a German politician has influenced language use.

The term “merkeln,” or “to merkel,” which means to be hesitant, has also made its way into the German language, Klatte said.

“Bushism” in the English language means an unconventional word and refers to former American President George Bush’s aptitude for coining words, such as “misunderestimate.”

President Wulff came under attack after mass market newspaper, Bild, reported he had received a home loan of 500,000 euros (413,600 pounds) from the wife of a wealthy businessman friend, Egon Geerkens, in 2008.

It later emerged that Wulff had tried to prevent the mass-market Bild from publishing the story.

In a television interview last week Wulff admitted to making a “grave mistake,” but defended his actions saying he had only tried to delay publication of the story.

Reporting by Alice Baghdjian, editing by Paul Casciato

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