South African Government

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Pan South African Language Board announces South Africa's shortlisted word

14 Oct 2020

The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), in association with media research company, Focal Points, hereby announce the following shortlisted words as candidates for SA Word of the Year 2020:

  1. COVID-19
  2. Jerusalema
  3. Lockdown

The SA 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 shortlisted words have according to PanSALB captured the ethos, mood or preoccupations of 2020.

The winner will be announced on Friday, 16 October 2020, to coincide with the International Dictionary Day that PanSALB will be commemorating at the Windmill Casino and Hotel in Bloemfontein, Free State.

“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’ ‘lockdown’ suddenly became part of our everyday vocabulary” said PanSALB Acting CEO Mr Willie Manana.

Other words/terms that were considered include:

  • Corruption
  • Normalise 
  • Self-Isolation

International Dictionary Day is celebrated on October 16 in remembrance of the first American lexicographer, Noah Webster who is considered to be the father of the American dictionary. PanSALB, through its National Lexicography Units, develops dictionaries in all official languages for the sustainable development of our languages and the realisation of effective multilingualism in South Africa.

Ntombentle Huluhulu
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