Oxford’s 2020 Phrase of the Yr? Effectively, It’s Unprecedented
The Oxford report additionally highlights phrases and phrases referring to social justice, together with “Black Lives Matter,” “Juneteenth,” “decolonize,” and “allyship,” a few of which surged dramatically beginning in late Could, amid the protests following the killing of George Floyd in police custody. However these will increase, whereas notable, have been nowhere close to these of pandemic-related phrases.
And the pandemic might have really diminished the frequency of different topical phrases. Final yr, Oxford launched an all-climate associated quick checklist, topped by “local weather emergency.” However in March, because the pandemic took maintain, the frequency of the phrase “local weather” itself abruptly plunged by virtually 50 p.c.
(Utilization has since rebounded a bit, and the report additionally flagged the emergence of some new climate-related phrases, like “anthropause,” proposed in an article within the journal Nature in June to explain the sudden drastic discount in human mobility, and its impression on the pure world.)
The pandemic turned once-obscure public-health terminology like “social distancing” or “flatten the curve” into family phrases, and made phrases and phrases like “lockdown” and “stay-at-home” widespread. Extra subtly, it additionally altered utilization patterns for ho-hum phrases like “distant” and “remotely.”
Beforehand, the most typical collocates (as lexicographers name phrases that seem most continuously collectively) of “distant” have been “village,” “island” and “management.” This yr, Ms. Martin stated, they have been “studying,” “working” and “work pressure.”
The Oxford report additionally highlights elevated use of “in-person,” usually in retronyms, as lexicographers consult with a brand new time period for an current factor that distinguishes the unique from a brand new variant. (For instance: “land line” or “fabric diaper.”) In 2020, it grew to become more and more essential to specify “in-person” voting, studying, worship and so forth.
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