This is such a fun time for any linguists out there. Many of the big dictionaries run ‘word of the year’ campaigns – making their selection from the bounty of new phrases that have crept into our lexicon or been overused to the point of exhaustion. (How unprecedented didn’t win any awards last year is anyone’s guess.)
Unsurprisingly, there’s been alot (and we mean alot) of new pandemic-inspired words over the past two years. In 2020 ‘doomscrolling’ took the Macquarie Dictionary committee’s top gong. The 2021 UK’s Oxford Dictionary went with ‘vax’. So, what’s the Macquarie Dictionary committee’s winner for 2021? ‘Strollout’ – as in (for any non-Australians reading this) the slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program.
At the risk of heading down a nerdy linguistic rabbit hole, these awards offer such a fascinating representation not only of the world we’re living in right now, but of the different experiences we’re all having. Where else but in Australia would someone coin a term for a government’s lackadaisical approach to vaccinating its people? You look at Merriam-Webster in the US, which chose vaccine, or Japan, where two phrases (riaru nitōryū and shō taimu) were chosen to celebrate baseball phenom Ohtani Shōhei. Here, we’re more interested in putting a funny spin on a serious topic – and ridiculing our government in the process. Menty-b even made the shortlist: would any other country colloquialise a mental breakdown in such a way?
Ah words. Hopefully this time next year we’ll all be talking about something like well-offs – where we take time off work just to be healthy and happy. We’d take that over a strollout any day.
– The Coach Place Global
Image by Macquarie Dictionary
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