'Jerusalema', 'Covid-19' and 'lockdown' shortlisted for SA’s word of the year

15 October 2020 - 13:00
The word 'quarantine' is also in the race to be named the most uttered word of 2020.
The word 'quarantine' is also in the race to be named the most uttered word of 2020.

The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), in partnership with media research company Focal Points, will crown SA Word of the Year on Friday.

'Jerusalema', 'lockdown' and 'Covid-19' have been shortlisted.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit SA in March, it would not only change the way we live, but our vocabulary too.

Many would witness history when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would be on lockdown to prepare the health system for an influx of Covid-19 patients.

Businesses which were considered as non-essential service providers were closed in an effort to minimise human contact and curb the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, Jerusalema, now a global anthem, by Limpopo DJ Master KG and vocalist Nomcebo Zikode gave hope to many amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The song boasts 184m views on streaming platform YouTube.

'Corruption', 'normalise' and 'self-isolation' also made the shortlist.

PanSALB said the word of the year is “a word, term or expression preferred to reflect the passing year in language”.

“To qualify for consideration, there must be evidence that the usage of the word or expression has increased significantly in the past 12 months across a broad range of media.”

The board said the shortlisted words captured the ethos, mood or preoccupations of 2020.

PanSALB acting CEO Willie Manana added “as the world faces a pandemic and a lot of uncertainty, the tenacity of the human spirit has never been more evident. Language has been at the centre of our response to the pandemic as words such as 'quarantine,' 'pandemic' and 'lockdown' suddenly became part of our everyday vocabulary.”

The winning word will be announced on Friday in Bloemfontein, Free State. The event will coincide with international Dictionary Day, which is commemorated annually on October 16.