New words 2020-2021

A round-up today of the latest words to enter national dictionaries. We’ve had quite an influx of new words in recent months, for obvious reasons, and I’ve been stuck translating them on more than one occasion. So I hope this post will be helpful to you. 🙂

The Oxford English Dictionary published its latest quarterly New Words update in March, and has also published a 38-page report entitled “Words of an Unprecedented Year” (downloadable for free, just complete name etc.). As for American English, Merriam-Webster added an update of 520 new words, in areas of online communication, new ways of working, politics and the justice system, identity, comfort, and looking to the future.

Le Petit Robert has added words that they class under the following themes: nouvelle économie, internet ; sciences, environnement ; gastronomie ; société ; vie quotidienne, loisirs ; francophonie. The Académie française has an ongoing list of Néologismes & anglicismesDire, ne pas dire“.

The Real Academia Española makes available an alphabetical list in PDF format. Termcat, the Catalan terminology centre, issues regular updates, and the latest one is here. The Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona publishes the most common neologisms in the year as annual lists across Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Spain and Peru, and overall.

In Germany, the Leibniz Institute for the German Language has put together a list of 1,200 new words related to the pandemic, commented in the Guardian newspaper (my favourite has to be Hamsteritis).

The 2020 list for Japanese is explained here.

In Brazil, the Academia Brasileira de Letras has a summary list with comprehensive entries when you click. The Academia das Ciências in Portugal provides a short list of neologisms, with a separate virus glossary.

For Italian, the Accademia della Crusca has a summary list showing publication dates, which upon clicking leads to a very comprehensive individual entry for each word. 

The Italian list, in particular, includes a considerable number of English or English-derived words. Each Italian will have their own views about that… (see this post for more on the subject!). Greece is similarly “porous” to this phenomenon, and on that subject let me hand over to John O’Shea, a Greek to English legal translator.

Before I do, can I invite all readers to add contributions for other languages? It would be fun to get as many as possible. 😊 Just add a comment below this post.

Prof. Giorgos Babiniotis is the brains behind the Dictionary of Modern Greek. Highly controversial when it was published because of the radical spelling changes he suggested to many common words, the dictionary is now in its 5th edition (2019). The 5th edition features 1,100 new entries and 250 new word senses, which are the result of collating language materials and recording words in current usage. Many of them relate to the economic crisis and the migration inflows into Greece. Examples include αντισυστημικός/anti-systemic, απομείωση/impairment, θυματοποίηση/victimisation, πανελίστας/panelist, χοτ-σποτ/ hotspot). It also includes phrases that have become well-established in the language (such as οίκος αξιολόγησης /rating agency), again many of which are related to the long crisis Greek endured.

Of course, language never stays still for long and with Covid many new terms have been added to the Greek language. Ever controversial, Babiniotis has been openly critical of the use of English words in Greek and has proposed his own Greek terms. Instead of lockdown he proposes απαγορευτικό, and instead of delivery (of takeaway food) he proposes διανομή κατ’ οίκον or even τροφοδιανομή. His views have been widely discussed in the press. The sheer number of Covid-related terms prompted the publication of a dictionary just on that topic. And last but not least, here’s a round-up of some of the new words that made it into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2020, which somewhat tongue in cheek have been rendered in Greek to try and keep Professor Babiniotis happy.

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