History & Culture

'Climate strike' named Collins' word of the year 2019

German climate activist Luisa Marie Neubauer (left) and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (centre) hold a placard reading “School strike for the climate” during a “Fridays for Future” demonstration in Berlin on March 29, 2019.

German climate activist Luisa Marie Neubauer (left) and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (centre) hold a placard reading “School strike for the climate” during a “Fridays for Future” demonstration in Berlin on March 29, 2019.   | Photo Credit: AFP

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This years' global climate strike which took place between Sept. 20 and 27, saw a reported turnout of over 7.6 million across the world

'Climate strike', a form of protest popularised by the Sweedish teenage activist Greta Thunburg, has been named Collins' Word of the Year 2019. It is formally defined as 'a form of protest in which people absent themselves from education or work in order to join demonstrations demanding action to counter climate change'.

Collins Dictionary’s lexicographers monitor the 9.5 billion-word Collins Corpus and create the annual list of new and notable words that reflect an ever-evolving culture and the preoccupations of those who use it.

This years' global climate strike which took place between Sept. 20 and 27, saw a reported turnout of over 7.6 million across the world, the largest climate mobilisation in history. The U.K.-based lexicographers observed a one-hundredfold increase in its usage this year alone.

A participant holds a placard during a Global Climate Strike rally in Hyderabad on September 20, 2019.

A participant holds a placard during a Global Climate Strike rally in Hyderabad on September 20, 2019.   | Photo Credit: G. Ramakrishna

 

It was first registered in November 2015, shortly before the UN Climate Change Conference which saw the drafting of the historic Paris Agreement. The term has gained traction after Ms. Thunburg first began protesting 'climate crisis' in September 2018. The strikes have since come to be popularly known as FridaysForFuture, and has become an important part of the vocabulary of climate activism. On October 29, Ms. Thunberg declined an environmental award at a Stockholm ceremony held by the Nordic Council, a regional body for inter-parliamentary cooperation, saying the climate movement needed people in power to start to “listen” to “science” and not awards.

 

“The climate movement does not need any more awards,” she wrote, adding, “what we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science.”

On November 5, more than 11,000 scientists worldwide declared global climate emergency in a paper published in BioScience journal.

“It seems an age since we had more light-hearted words of the year such as ‘bingewatch’ and ‘photobomb’, but the politically charged atmosphere of recent years is clearly driving our language, bringing new words to the fore and giving new meanings and nuance to older ones. ‘Climate strikes’ can often divide opinion, but they have been inescapable this last year and have even driven a former word of the year, ‘Brexit’ from the top of the news agenda, if only for a short time,” said Helen Newstead, Collins’ head of language content.

Watch | Greta Thunberg opens the United Nations Climate Action Summit
 

'The Brexicon'

The dictionary has also issued the 'Brexicon' - 'a list of words related to Brexit and how the country, its people and politicians have reacted to it.'

The list includes words like:

  • Brexiteer (noun) - a supporter or architect of the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union,
  • Brexiety (noun) - a state of heightened anxiety triggered by concerns about the imminent withdrawal of Britain from the European Union, and
  • Project Fear (noun) - a name given to any political campaign that seeks to arouse public alarm about proposed changes to the status quo.

Brexit was named Collins’ Word of the Year in 2016, and has been a matter of international conversation ever since. The long drawn event has brought to the fore an array of unique vocabulary that captures its essence.

Ms. Newstead said that “the Dictionary has no opinion on Brexit, other than to say it has been quite generous in its gifts to the English language, as well as inspiring the use of many old-fashioned expletives. The Brexicon could be even longer, but we feel our selection sums up many of the key themes since Collins named Brexit Word of the Year in 2016. As the process continues through this latest ‘flextension’,

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 2:12:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/climate-strike-named-collins-word-of-the-year-2019/article29960356.ece

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