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Words of the Year Double eagles and mental burden reflect Swiss society

Xherdan Shaqiri

Swiss national team player Xherdan Shaqiri is very attached to his Kosovo roots. 


“Doppeladler” and “gesto dell’aquila”, the Words of the Year in German- and Italian-speaking Switzerland this year, both refer to the double eagle hand gesture of an Albanian national symbol. 

“The double eagle really spread its wings in 2018 and landed in everyday life. We will be discussing it for a long time to come,” said the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) in a statementexternal link on Thursday. Researchers at the institute used Switzerland’s largest text database and the judgement of a ten-person jury to pick the winners. 

The double eagle made headlines around the world in June when three Swiss footballers – two of them of ethnic Albanian origin – made the gesture during a heated World Cup match against Serbia. The Serbs, the Swiss press and world football’s governing body FIFA were all unimpressed, with FIFA fining the players CHF5,000-CHF10,000 each for “unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play”. 

+ What is the double eagle hand gesture? 

In the French-speaking part of the country, the word – or rather words – of the year are “charge mentale” (mental burden). 

Although the phrase was popularised in 2017 during the debate on sexual equality thanks to a cartoon by the French blogger Emma, it wasn’t until this year that it was applied to other spheres. 

“If stress is the ill of the 21st century, mental burden is probably one of the main causes,” the jury said. “From now on, it’s no longer the sole preserve of women or the home.” 

The ZHAW has been choosing Words of the Year since 2003external link. Switzerland’s fourth national language, Romansh, will feature next year, they said.


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