This year has been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has changed more than just our lives, our but language has been affected too. ‘Lockdown’ has officially been named the South African Word of the Year by the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) and media research company Focal Points.
The word of the year is a word, term or expression preferred to reflect the passing year in language.
“We can all attest to the rampage caused by the coronavirus. It is all we have talked about as we continue to navigate through its unforgiving rage,” said PanSALB chief executive Willie Manana.
“Hence, when choosing this year’s SA word of the year, we had to take the process a step further to broaden the criteria and also consider the cultural significance and influence the word has among South Africans.”
PanSALB tracked the prominence of words during October 2019 to September 2020, and found that ‘lockdown’ was used nearly 486 224 times online, in print media and broadcast since it was first instated in late March.
It beat out other popular terms like ‘Jerusalema’, ‘self-isolaiton’, ‘COVID-19’ and ‘corruption’.
“There is no argument that the lockdown has changed the way we live and has opened up a whole new world that has made it possible for us to work in the comfort of our own homes,” Manana added.
“Reaching just under half a million mentions in print, broadcast and online and further mentions on social media and in daily conversations, all in just over six months, the word ‘lockdown’ is a worthy winner,” said PanSALB.