Updated: November 26, 2020 8:39:24 am
In 2018, the Oxford dictionary selected “toxic” — as in “toxic masculinity”, notably related within the gentle of #MeToo — as its new “word of the year”. Last yr, “climate emergency” made the reduce. Since then, within the seemingly interminable time the earth is taking to traverse an elliptical path across the solar, a pandemic has struck and work, love, friendship, societies and economies have been essentially altered. So a lot in order that even for a dictionary, a word is not enough.
Earlier this week, the Oxford English Dictionary declared that it has not chosen a word for 2020 as a result of this is “a year which cannot neatly be accommodated in one single word”. Instead, various new additions to the worldwide English lexicon have discovered point out, together with “coronavirus”, “mail in”, “unmute” and, in fact, “lockdown”. With the flurry of phrases, although, what the great folks on the Oxford dictionary’s workplace are actually saying is this: 2020 has left them speechless. Every yr, the word they select signifies a development, a brand new utilization that distills a debate. In COVID-19 occasions, it could seem that language, the foundation of all id, is as flummoxed as those that use it. Are we digital creatures now, who “unmute” ourselves whereas working from dwelling for a short spell of social contact? Is democracy and politics going to be an armchair affair, and voting challenged for the brand new types it has taken? And what of previous phrases which have acquired new, devastating overtones — the “migrant” has develop into infused with new that means in India, as tens of millions journeyed on foot.
There is, nonetheless, a silver lining on this talking silence. Scientific phrases have entered on a regular basis language like by no means earlier than, and throughout the board, new phrases are rising at an unprecedented tempo. Perhaps in a yr that the world stood nonetheless, folks managed to collectively broaden their minds.
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