Source: 恒星英语学习网    2020-12-03  我要投稿   论坛   Favorite  


For the first time, two US dictionary companies on Monday declared the same word their word of the year: “pandemic”.


The challenges of 2020, Oxford Languages said, “brought a new immediacy and urgency to the role of the lexicographer. In almost real-time, lexicographers were able to monitor and analyze seismic shifts in language data and precipitous frequency rises in new coinages”.


seismic [ˈsaɪzmɪk]: adj. 突然的

precipitous [prɪˈsɪpɪtəs]: adj. (变化)突然的;急剧的

Because the coronavirus pandemic brought on gargantuan language changes, the report said, “2020 is a year which cannot be neatly accommodated in one single ‘word of the year’.”


gargantuan [ɡɑːrˈɡæntʃuən]: adj. 庞大的,巨大的

Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com disagreed, though both also noted enormous shifts toward other related words.


Pandemic “probably isn’t a big shock”, said Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster.


"Often the big news story has a technical word that’s associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It’s probably the word by which we’ll refer to this period in the future.”


John Kelly, senior research editor at Dictionary.com, said searches for “pandemic” spiked more than 13,500% on 11 March, the day the World Health Organization declared an outbreak of the novel coronavirus a global health emergency.


The spike, he said, was “massive, but even more telling is how high [pandemic] has sustained significant search volumes throughout the entire year”.


Month over month, lookups for pandemic were up more than 1,000%. For about half the year, the word was in the top 10% of all lookups on Dictionary.com, Kelly said.


At Merriam-Webster.com, searches for “pandemic” on 11 March were 115,806% higher than spikes experienced on the same date last year, Sokolowski said.


Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan”, for all, and “demos”, for people or population, Sokolowski said, adding that the latter is also the root of “democracy”.


The word “pandemic” dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said.


The pandemic, Kelly said, also saw searches grow for words including “aerosols”, “contact tracing”, “social distancing” and “herd immunity”, along with the intricacies of therapeutic drugs, tests and vaccines that can help save lives.


Merriam-Webster began designating a word of the year in 2008, with “bailout”. Its word of 2019 was “they”, after lookups increased by 313%.


Dictionary.com has been in the game since 2010, when it went with “change”. Its word of the year in 2019 was “existential”, in a year that climate change, gun violence, the nature of democracy and Forky from Disney’s Toy Story 4 helped propel search.


Oxford Languages went with two words last year: “climate emergency”.


Kelly, Sokolowski and Oxford Languages noted other search trends in 2020. After the death in May of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, words around racial justice experienced spikes, including “fascism”, “anti-fascism”, “defund” and “white fragility”, Kelly said.



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