German linguists: ‘Alternative facts’ the non-word of 2017

FILE- This is a Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 file photo of Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway accompanied by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as she speaks during a news conference in Trenton, N.J. German linguists Tuesday Jan. 16, 2018 declared the phrase "alternative facts" _ popularized by White House aide Kellyanne Conway _ the non-word of 2017. Conway used the phrase last year when asked why President Donald Trump's then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer mischaracterized the size of the inauguration crowd. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

BERLIN (AP) — German linguists have declared the phrase “alternative facts,” popularized by White House aide Kellyanne Conway, the non-word of 2017.

Conway used the phrase last year when asked why President Donald Trump’s then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer mischaracterized the size of the inauguration crowd.

A team of six language experts at Darmstadt University chose “alternative facts” from among 684 suggestions.

German news agency dpa quoted the head of the panel as saying Tuesday the phrase represents the growing practice of “replacing factual arguments with claims that cannot be proven.”

Each year the panel singles out a phrase that runs counter to the principles of democracy or human dignity. Last year it chose the German term “Volksverraeter,” roughly “traitor to one’s people,” used by far-right groups to label politicians who they disagree with.