'Face-cloth' becomes word of the year in Latvia

For the eighteenth time, Riga Latvian Society's Latvian Language Advancement Group has announced the 'word', 'non-word' and 'winged phrase' of the year 2020, the group's representative Ieva Kolmane said January 25.

Word of the year

Latvian awards for the 'word of the year' often include neologisms developed as a result of technology advancement, but this year the candidates came from the Covid-19 domain. The finalists this year were "mājsēde" (home-sit), used by authorities to represent the quiet period and curfew imposed in the country at the end of the year, "burbulis" (bubble) with its new meaning of limiting contacts, "kovidioti" (covidiots), which has already taken off in English. 

However, the winner of the category was "sejauts" (face-cloth) to use as substitute for "mouth and nose cover" or, as one might simply call it, a mask.

Non-word of the year

The "non-word of the year" category included "ekrānšāviņš" as a calque of screenshot, "podkāsts" directly borrowed from podcast, incorrect pronunciation of which might lead one to the porcelain throne ("pods" in Latvian). 

The winner of the non-word category was "vaibs", also directly taken from the English "vibe".

Winged phrase of the year

The "winged phrases" are expressions that have been heard in public and stuck in people's minds in one way or another. The phrases of 2020 included Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš' address to the nation in November "Draugi, nav labi!" (Friends, all is not well!) and another phrase uttered by him that "two meters will not go anywhere". Another candidate was President Levits' life partner Andra Levite's phrase "Pašlaik mēs visi atrodamies vienā laivā, bet dažiem ir jāairē" (Right now we are all in the same boat, but some of us must row).

The winner of the category was the phrase delivered to the public in March by the Emergency Medical Service "Mēs paliekam darbā jūsu dēļ. Jūs palieciet mājās mūsu dēļ!" meaning "We stay at work because of you. You stay at home because of us!"

 

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