23 November 2020 04:34
Black Lives Matter - BLM - was in usage before George Floyd was killed; but today it has penetrated our public domain as never before. So too mail-in and conspiracy theory - not because the conspiracy theories about mail-in ballots are new or true, but rather because they are espoused by the most famous person in the world, in Donald J Trump. Oxford Languages's annual Word of the Year is usually a tribute to the protean creativity of English and the reality of constant linguistic change, throwing a spotlight on zeitgeisty neologisms like "selfie," "vape" and "unfriend." Sure, it isn't all lexicographic fun and frolic. 2017 saw the triumph of "toxic." Last year, the winner was "climate emergency." But then came 2020, and you-know-what. This year, Oxford Languages, the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary, has forgone the selection of a single word in favor of highlighting the coronavirus pandemic's swift and sudden linguistic impact on English.
"What struck the team as most distinctive in 2020 was the sheer scale and scope of change," Katherine Connor Martin, the company's head of product, said in an interview. "This event was experienced globally and by its nature changed the way we express every other thing that happened this year."