Archive for Word of the year

"Chilly" in Japanese

The Japanese love to borrow foreign words into their language, tens of thousands of them, but when they do, they usually put their own stamp on them.  This year's word of the year is a good example:

Laid-Back Loanword “Chirui” Chosen as One of Japan’s Words of 2021:

The English phrase “chill out” inspired the adjective chirui, which was selected by dictionary publisher Sanseidō as its word of the year for 2021.

nippon.com (12/10/21)

Here they've created an adjective based on the English phrase "chill out".

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Year of the tiger in Japan

The tiger is the coming year's representative in the sexagenary cycle, the 60-term cycle of twelve zodiacal animals combined with five elements / phases in the traditional Chinese calendar; currently used in Japan for years, historically also for days; widely applied in Chinese astrology. (source, see also here, here, here, and here)

In Sinitic languages, the 60-year cycle is known as gānzhī 干支 (Sino-Japanese [on'yomi] pronunciation kanshi), i.e., "(calendrical) heavenly / celestial stems and earthly / terrestrial branches".  In Japanese [kun'yomi], 干支 may also be read as "eto", but that is usually written in kana as えと.

I've often wondered about the etymology of the "eto" pronunciation of 干支.  Here is what Wiktionary tells us:

The combination of (え, e; elder brother) and (と, to; younger brother); the original meaning is 兄弟 (brother). Derived from this term, the elder is adopted as "positive" and "heavenly stems", the younger is adopted as "negative" and "earthly branches".

Not sure I can follow all of that, but at least it is something.

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Russian Words of the Year and the Decade

I do not recall ever having Russian words of the year featured on Language Log, so it's a delight to have the opportunity to do so now.  They were called to my attention by Don Keyser, who spotted this piece in Novaya Gazeta this morning:

Норм и обнуление — Подведены итоги конкурса «Слово года»-2021. Особая конкуренция — в номинации «антиязык»

05:29, 19 декабря 2021  Андрей Архангельский, член экспертного совета «Слово года»

—-

Norm and zeroing

The results of the competition "Word of the Year" -2021 have been summed up. Particular competition – in the category "anti-language"

5:29 am, December 19, 2021

Andrey Arkhangelsky, member of the expert council "Word of the Year"

Don remarked:

Keeping up with the grimly evolving Russian language — neologisms, protoneologisms … the narrative is simultaneously enlightening, droll, and rather sad.

You can get a pretty good rendering via either DeepL or Google Translate. FYI, I've copied below the article the Google Translate rendering.  It doesn't do the embedded chart, of course, but the content of the chart is explained in the article.

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Chinese fuzzwords and slanguage of the year 2021

If you want to get an idea of what preoccupies Chinese people, one good way is to take a gander at current lingo. SupChina provides a convenient compilation from two authoritative sources.  In the past, I've been disappointed by many Chinese words of the year lists because they seemed to have been blatantly chosen by government bureaus with a political bias in mind.  The lists assembled below strike me as more genuine and less skewed toward the wishes of authorities.  That is to say, they match well with my own perception of what people are thinking and talking about on a daily basis, and the words they use to express themselves.  So here goes:

"China’s top buzzwords and internet slang of 2021"

Two year-end lists of popular slang words and internet catchphrases were published this week. The words offer a glimpse into what’s on the minds of Chinese internet users and Chinese government officials. Here are all 16 words on the lists.

Andrew Methven, SupChina (12/8/21)

The fact that four of the expressions appear on both lists is reassuring that they represent actual preferences of Chinese citizens.

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Nominations for Japanese words of the year

Mezurashii / めずらしい / 珍しい ("amazing; wonderful; rare").  Love 'em!  Such creativity!  Such imagination!

"Japan’s Words of 2021: Nominees Announced for Annual List"
Language Nov 4, 2021

On November 4, the publisher Jiyū Kokumin Sha announced its list of nominees for the words and phrases best representing the year 2021. Our complete list of the nominees with explanations.
New Words for a Pandemic Year

Each year Jiyū Kokumin Sha, the publisher of Gendai yōgo no kiso chishiki (Basic Knowledge on Contemporary Terminology), an annual guide to the latest terms in use in the Japanese language, holds its contest to decide the Words of the Year. For 2021, the nominating committee selected a list of 30 terms that have made themselves a part of the spoken and written landscape in Japan this year.

….

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Chinese Buzzwords of the year 2019: plagiarism / stealing a shtick

Jialing Xie surveys the field in "Top 10 Buzzwords in Chinese Online Media: An overview of China’s media top buzzwords over the past year", What's on Weibo (1/5/20).  As in the previous year, the expressions were chosen by the chief editor of the magazine Yǎowén Jiáozì 咬文嚼字, which Xie says "literally means 'to pay excessive attention to wording'”.

No, that's not the literal meaning of "yǎowén Jiáozì 咬文嚼字", it's the lexical, figurative meaning.  The literal meaning of "yǎowén Jiáozì 咬文嚼字" is "to bite on phrases and chew on characters".  Other lexical, figurative interpretations of "yǎowén Jiáozì 咬文嚼字" ("to bite on phrases and chew on characters") are "be punctilious about minutiae of wording: chop logic; pay excessive attention to wording and choice of characters; to nitpick like a grammar Nazi; to talk pedantically").

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"Striving": domestic Chinese character of the year

Ladies and gentlemen, here it is:

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