Long Street in the Cape Town CBD on March 30. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Long Street in the Cape Town CBD on March 30. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Dreaded ’lockdown’ named SA Word of the Year

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Oct 16, 2020

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Cape Town – The word ’’lockdown’’ evokes a lot of emotion – for all the wrong reasons.

Implemented in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19, it has left no life untouched – often with devastating effects – dictating the severity of the restrictions to our day-to-day lives.

It all started with the declaration of the National State of Disaster on March 15 and became part of our everyday vocabulary as the country prepared for the level 5 lockdown on March 27.

So it’s no surprise that the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), in association with media research company Focal Points, has proclaimed the word lockdown its 2020 South African Word of the Year.

Candidates for SA Word of the Year were reviewed by PanSALB to decide which one captured the philosophy, mood or preoccupations of this particular year. Keywords were tracked from October 2019 to September 2020, through their use on social media platforms and in everyday interactions. Their cultural significance was also measured.

The word “lockdown’’ reached 486 224 mentions in print and broadcast media, online and in everyday conversations in just over six months.

“We can all attest to the rampage caused by the coronavirus, it is all that we have talked about as we continue to navigate through its unforgiving rage,” said PanSALB acting chief executive Willie Manana.

’’Hence, in choosing this year’s SA Word of the Year we have had to take the process a step further to broaden the criteria and also consider the cultural significance and influence the word has had among South Africans.

“The lockdown has affected various parts of our lives and continues to do so – how we conduct business, our social interactions and cultural practices.”

It was commonplace to see people queueing outside bottle stores and supermarkets during one of the strictest lockdowns in the world.

While the lockdown has changed the way we live, it has also opened up a whole new world that has made it possible for many to work from the comfort of their own homes – although for the millions of unemployed and poverty-stricken South Africans, life became harder.


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