And South Africa's Word of the Year for 2019 is...


From a new music trend to heavier societal issues such as femicide, the Pan SA Language Board (PanSALB) on Wednesday morning announced the term that was foremost in the consciousness of South Africans in 2019. 

And the winner is... The Zondo commission. 

The announcement was made live on eNCA on Wednesday - World Dictionary Day - just before 07:00. 

On Tuesday, the board announced the shortlisted candidates for the word of the year 2019.

The following three phrases were shortlisted:

- Zondo commission;

- Gender-based violence;  

- AmaPiano.

In a statement, PanSALB said World Dictionary Day is observed annually the world over.

In celebrating this significant day, PanSALB, in association with media research company, Focal Points, shortlisted the above words after candidates for the SA Words of the Year 2019 were debated and their merits considered. 

According to PanSALB, the above words captured the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of 2019. 

Other words that were considered were:

- Vosho (a popular dance with knee-bends);

- Oksalayo (whatever - a woman dismissing a man);

- Idibala (dance move when people fall unexpectedly);

- Lit (hot, on trend).

"Our approach this year to the SA Word of the Year campaign will be to encompass the values of multilingualism, not only in recognition of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, but to reaffirm our commitment to the promotion of all official languages,"said PanSALB Acting CEO Dr Nomfundo Mali. 

"Our focus will be on ensuring that indigenous language speakers are aware of, and know the equivalent terms of what is on everyone’s lips in their own languages."

This will ensure that indigenous languages remain relevant and are part of the current public discourse, she added. 

Chairperson of the PanSALB Board, Dr David Maahlamela, said that various external factors necessitated accelerated terminological and orthographic expansion, such as digital and technological evolution.

"Special focus ought to be given to the development of the previously repressed linguistic wealth of the country, to elevate them to intellectual and commercial significance.

"In order to achieve this, we need to ensure the relevance and significance of indigenous language in matters of national interest," he added.

The Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture has consistently made top headlines as the truth about corruption at the highest levels continue to be revealed following the tenure of former president Jacob Zuma. 

Gender-based violence also came under the spotlight in 2019, with countless high-profile murders and violent attacks on women in South Africa. 

South African house music is known for its ability to constantly reinvent itself. The sound which is known as "AmaPiano" is a mix of deep house, gqom all mixed in with the jazzy, soulful sound of a piano.

In the end, the Zondo commission was chosen as the phrase that most captured South Africans in 2019, garnering more than 30 000 mentions in the South African media. 

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