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The Word of the Year 2019

Ogni anno viene scelta la parola che meglio riassume i fatti e i cambiamenti sociali in corso, un bell'esercizio per capire cosa sta succedendo nel mondo e come il linguaggio ne è influenzato.

Think of a word that sums up 2019 for you. Your ‘word of the year’ (WOTY). What would it be?

Every year the editors at Oxford Dictionaries select a word of the year for the English-speaking world.

Sometimes the chosen word of the year is a new or newish word. In 2013, for example, it was ‘selfie’.

The word of the year for 2015 was a particularly controversial choice as the editors selected the pictograph known as ‘tears of joy emoji’. Many people were horrified. Is an emoji even a word? As digital communication develops, perhaps our idea of what a word is will have to change, too.

So, what is the word of the year for 2019? The word that best sums up the “ethos, mood and preoccupations” of the past year?

Well, it’s scary but surely not surprising that Oxford Dictionaries have chosen the word ‘climate emergency.’ The actions of Greta Thunberg have undoubtedly played an important part in boosting the usage of all the climate-related words.

But there’s one word on the word of the year shortlist for 2019 that’s derived from Swedish and for which the ‘Greta effect’
is crystal-clear — ‘flight shame’. Photos showing Greta leading by example and crossing the Atlantic by boat instead of by plane have shamed many air travellers into reconsidering their travel habits. According to Reuters, one in five air travellers is now choosing to fly less often because of the high carbon emissions generated by air travel.