FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
16 OCTOBER 2023, PRETORIA
ANNOUNCEMENT OF SA WORD OF THE YEAR 2023
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DECLARED SA WORD OF THE YEAR 2023
Today, 16 October 2023, the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) announced the 2023 South African Word of the Year in association with media research company Focal Points. After a thorough consideration of various words, terms, and expressions, the term “Russia-Ukraine” was selected as the winner, triumphing over “interest rate”, “BRICS”, and “geopolitics”. The inaugural South African Word of the Year for Social Media was “Kuningi”, which was chosen from a list of other potential candidates including “danko”, “cima”, “ivale mfana”, “bathong”, and “10 past 4”.
The South African Word of the Year selection process was conducted by PanSALB, who shortlisted contenders based on real language use. Focal Points analysed the frequency of each word or term’s use from October 2022 to September 2023, tracking keywords that were prominently used in credible print, broadcast, and online media. “Russia-Ukraine” emerged as the most dominant keyword in the media, accounting for 44% of the total clip count and mentions, followed by “BRICS” at 27%. The prominence of the “Russia-Ukraine” war in South African public discourse can be attributed to various factors, including the country’s official stance on the war, the mediation envoy of African leaders led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, its impact on hosting of the BRICS summit, and political pressure to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Kuningi” emerged as the winner for the inaugural South African Word of the Year for Social Media with a commanding 61% of the total clip count, followed by “bathong” at 27%. Kuningi is an isiZulu word that means “it’s a lot” and is frequently used by social media users to express feeling overwhelmed by too much information or by dealing with multiple challenges at once. Other words and terms that were submitted and considered included “inflation”, “hita hlula”, “zama zama”, “isigaxa”, and “yoh”.
The South African Word of the Year reflects the preoccupations of South Africans for a given period and is an essential indicator of the cultural and social landscape of the nation.
Released on behalf of PanSALB: Ntombentle Huluhulu
Head: Marketing and Communication
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