Cape Town – While Interest Rate, BRICS, and Geopolitics were in competition for the 2023 South African Word of the Year, ultimately it was the word/term “Russia-Ukraine” was selected as the winner.
The news was announced on Monday in celebration of International Dictionary Day, 16 October 2023.
The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) announced the 2023 South African Word of the Year after a thorough consideration of various words, terms and expressions.
The selection process was conducted by PanSALB, who shortlisted candidates based on real language usage, while Focal Point analysed frequency statistics from October 2022 to September 2023, tracking keywords that were prominently used in credible print, broadcast, and online media.
“Russia-Ukraine" emerged as the most dominant keyword in the media, accounting for 44% of the total clip count and mentions, followed by ”BRICS" at 27%.
The prominence of the "Russia-Ukraine" war in South African public discourse can be attributed to various factors, including the country's official stance on the war, the mediation envoy of African leaders led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, its impact on the hosting of the BRICS summit, and political pressure to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Meanwhile, the inaugural SA Word of the Year for Social Media term/expression was bestowed upon "Kuningi“, which was chosen from a list of other potential candidates including Danko, Cima, Ivale mfana, Bathong, and 10 past 4.
"Kuningi" emerged as the winner with a commanding 61% clip count, followed by “Bathong" at 27%.
Kuningi is an isiZulu word that means “it’s a lot” and is frequently used by social media users to express feeling overwhelmed with too much information or dealing with multiple challenges at once.
Other words and terms that were submitted and considered include Inflation, Hita Hlula, Zama Zama, iSigaxa, and Yoh, among others.
The SA Word of the Year reflects the preoccupations of South Africans for a given period and is an essential indicator of the cultural and social landscape of the nation.