word of 2020 south africa

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SA to choose its ‘Word of 2020’ this week – here’s a list of the nominees

If you had to pick one term to evaluate this year, what would you go for? PanSALB is unveiling South Africa’s official ‘Word of 2020’ on Friday.

word of 2020 south africa

Photo: Unsplash

Apparently, you aren’t allowed to submit a swear word to this competition, so that’s ruled out most of our suggestions. However, the show must go on, and with International Dictionary Day just around the corner, our literary authorities are preparing to crown South Africa’s official ‘Word of 2020’ on Friday.

Keep it clean, please…

With our 11 official languages, there are always plenty of lexicographic trends to pick from. However, with this year being one of the most challenging on record, a lot of the potential winners for 2020’s prize are virus-related:

“As the world faces a pandemic and a lot of uncertainty, the tenacity of the human spirit has never been more evident. Language has been at the centre of our response to the pandemic. New terms suddenly became part of our everyday vocabulary.”

PanSALB Acting Chief Executive, Willie Manana

What does it take to become the Word of 2020?

The SA Word of the Year is a word, term or expression preferred to reflect the passing year in language. To qualify for consideration, there must be evidence that the usage of the word or expression has increased significantly in the past 12 months across a broad range of media.

The shortlisted words have, according to PanSALB, ‘captured the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of 2020’. Coinciding with International Dictionary Day, the winner will be announced on Friday at the Windmill Casino and Hotel in Bloemfontein, Free State, where the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) will commemorate the event.

South Africa’s Word of 2020 – what are the choices?

Some of the candidates have already been nominated:

  • Jerusalema: The title of Master KG’s viral tune that has conquered the world.
  • Lockdown: Hard lockdown, temporary lockdown, Advanced Level 3 lockdown… we’ve had the lot, mate.
  • Corruption: Let’s be honest, this could be nominated every year in South Africa.
  • COVID-19: Come on now. Don’t even ask…
  • Normalise: If you aren’t on Twitter, this will confuse you. The term has been used to express honest and sometimes challenging opinions.
  • Self-isolation: *Violent flashbacks to brewing our own pineapple beer back in April*
  • Quarantine: It’s like self-isolation, except you actually have an illness. Some people were forced into quarantine by the state in 2020.
  • Pandemic: A pandemic occurs when an epidemic becomes very widespread. It’s the worst of all the ‘demics’, put it that way…