It doesn’t take a genius to identify the most pressing issue of 2020 is the coronavirus pandemic.
So it’s little wonder the Australian National Dictionary Centre’s word of the year is closely related to the social phenomenon imposed on populations to contain the spread of the deadly pandemic.
So, the winner is …
Iso: self-isolation; the act of remaining apart from others as a way to limit the spread of an infectious disease, especially as a public health measure.
The Australian National Dictionary Centre selected “iso” from a long list of COVID-19-related terms.
The Australian National University-based body picks a word each year that has gained prominence in the national social landscape, and senior researcher Mark Gwynn said the winner stood out for its characteristically Aussie abbreviation.
“Our fondness for abbreviating words in Australia, and a natural human inclination to make the unknown and scary familiar, quickly saw the descriptive term ‘self-isolation’ shortened to ‘iso’ in March this year,” Mr Gwynn said.
“Not only is ‘iso’ distinctively Australian in usage, it has also been linguistically productive by combining with other words to form compounds such as iso baking, iso bar, iso cut and iso fashion.
“Many of us found humour in language use as a way to cope with our changed working and social circumstances, so why not talk about a bad self-inflicted haircut as an iso cut, or the extra weight gained due to lack of exercise as iso kilos.”
The shortlist for the prize was heavily related to the pandemic with just one not connected to the virus or its effects.
The odd one out was associated to the devastating bushfires from last summer. What a year!
Here’s the 2020 shortlist:
• Black Summer: the summer of 2019-20, during which catastrophic bushfires occurred in southeastern Australia
• bubble: a district, region, or a group of people viewed as a closed system, isolating from other districts, regions, or groups as a public health measure to limit the spread of COVID-19. ‘Bubble’ was also found in compounds such as ‘travel bubble’, ‘germ bubble’ and ‘sporting bubble’
• covid-normal: a state of adapting to an acceptable level of COVID-19 in the community.
• driveway: used in compounds referring to individual Anzac Day vigils in 2020, such as ‘driveway Anzac service’ and ‘driveway Dawn Service’.