The 2020 Word of the Year is a characteristically Aussie abbreviation of a popular pandemic term.
In a year dominated by COVID-19 the Australian National Dictionary Centre has chosen iso as its Word of the Year from a very long list of pandemic-related terms.
Each year the Centre, based at The Australian National University (ANU), picks a word or expression that has gained prominence in the Australian social landscape.
Senior Researcher Mark Gwynn says that among the hundreds of pandemic-related terms collected by the Centre, iso stood out as a 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 words on the shortlist reflect the impact of the pandemic in 2020, with only one word chosen that was not related to the virus and its effects.
The full 2020 shortlist includes:
The Australian National Dictionary Centre undertakes research into Australian English in partnership with Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand, and edits Oxford’s Australian dictionaries.
Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. OUP is the world’s largest university press with the widest global presence.
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