‘Russia-Ukraine’ is SA’s Word of the Year

Published Oct 16, 2023


‘Russia-Ukraine” has been announced as the 2023 South African Word of the Year.

Coinciding with International Dictionary Day, the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) on Monday said after thorough consideration of various words, terms and expressions, the word/term ‘Russia-Ukraine’ was selected as the winner, triumphing over ‘Interest Rate’, ‘BRICS’ and ‘Geopolitics’.

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’.

The SA Word of the Year selection process was conducted by PanSALB which shortlisted on the basis of real language usage. Media research company Focal Points analysed frequency statistics from October 2022 to September 2023, tracking keywords that were prominently used in credible print, broadcast, and online media.

The PanSALB said ‘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,” PanSALB said.

‘Kuningi’ emerged as the winner for the SA Word of the Year for Social Media term/expression 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 included ‘Inflation’, ‘Hita Hlula’, ‘Zama Zama’, ‘iSigaxa’, and ‘Yoh’.

“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,” the PanSALB said.

Cape Times