16 OCTOBER 2021 (08H50), PRETORIA
ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE SA WORD OF THE YEAR 2021
VACCINATION DECLARED 2021 SA WORD OF THE YEAR
Today, 16 October 2021, the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) in association with media research company, Focal Points, proclaims the word/term Vaccination as the 2021 South African Word of the Year. The SA Word of the Year is a word, term or expression preferred to reflect the passing year in language.
Candidates for SA Word of the Year were reviewed by PanSALB and their merits debated, choosing one that captures the philosophy, mood, or preoccupations of this particular year.
“The pandemic continues to occupy public discourse, with the government response to the pandemic and the responsiveness of the public to the messages of government significantly taking centre stage of these discussions” said PanSALB CEO, Mr Lance Schultz.
“We’ve also received some interesting submissions this year from social media which highlights the multilingual nature of our linguistic landscape in the country. Popular words used in social circles are increasingly becoming more multilingual in nature through language mixing” he added.
The shortlisted words for the 2021 SA Word of the Year were;
- Ba tla o hurda (slang for ‘they will hurt you’)
- Family Meeting (term used in reference to the President’s Address on South Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic)
Other words that were considered include Constitutional Court, Level, Pandemic (from mainstream media) and Beke le beke (‘weekly’ or ‘week in week out’) and Danko (from social media).
Through Focal Points, keywords were tracked for the period October 2020 to September 2021. This media data was analysed to determine the prominence of the keywords within the media to identify the frequency that they were used in credible print, broadcast and social media. Furthermore, the usage of the words on platforms such as social media, everyday interactions and their cultural significance were considered for inclusion in the shortlist.
‘Vaccination’ has been the most used word in South African mainstream media with government response to the COVID-19 taking centerstage as well as the responsiveness of the public to government messages. There are also many variations and terms associated with the word whose use has also increased significantly over the passing year, such as ‘vaccine hesitancy’ which according to the World Health Organisation refers to the delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccine services. This also includes slang words such as, ‘vaxxed’, which the online urban dictionary describes as, ‘being made very attractive by way of becoming immune to the coronavirus’ and ‘anti-vaxxer’ as ‘someone who discounts scientifically valid medical research pertaining to vaccines in favour of data produced by a discredited researcher’.
INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY DAY
International Dictionary Day is celebrated on October 16 in remembrance of the first American lexicographer, Noah Webster who is considered to be the father of the American dictionary. The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), through its National Lexicography Units, develops dictionaries in all official languages for the sustainable development of languages and furtherance of multilingualism in South Africa.