Latvia's word and non-word of the year 2022 announced

Take note – story published 1 year ago

For the 20th time, Riga Latvian Society's Latvian Language Advancement Group has announced the 'word', 'non-word', 'winged phrase', and 'sequence of words' of the year 2022, the group's representatives said January 30.

Word of the year

Latvian awards for the 'word of the year' often include neologisms developed as a result of technology advancement or current events. 2020 and 2021 saw the influence of the pandemic play a role, as the Latvianized versions of face masks and QR codes won.  Last year was highly determined by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the word okupeklis (a blending of okupācija (occupation) and piemineklis (monument), used to refer to the Soviet monument in the Uzvaras Park in Rīga, won. 

The finalists this year were also 'atkrieviskot' (to 'de-Russianize'), 'brīvkrāns' (public water tap), 'klupne' (error in technical context).

Non-word of the year

The "non-word of the year" category, which awards the most awkward, clumsy, or inaccurate word, discussed 'hospiss' and 'naratīvs' as calques for hospice and narrative, as well as incorrect use of prefixes in some compound nouns.

The winner of the non-word category was 'sankcionēt', (to sanction) which means to give judicial power, but is used in the context of penalties, which in correct Latvian would be 'pakļaut sankcijām' (to subject to sanctions).

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 winged phrases of 2022 included the politician Uldis Pīlēns' "I cannot comment because I cannot comment," Twitter-popular "Narrow-mindedness has no borders", and former Defense Minister Artis Pabriks' call to "take some calcium, strengthen the spine and believe in our abilities and our country."

The winner of the category was Arturs Hansons' "Lai Krievijai būtu nākotne, to vajag izPutināt". This phrase has a wordplay on izputināt meaning "to ruin" but also containing "Putin", creating a meaning "to de-Putinize". The whole sentence then reads "For Russia to have a future, it needs to be ruined/de-putinized."

Sequence of Words of the year

The "sequence of words" of the year is also a phrase that has been heard or seen in public, but all one seems to think after hearing or reading it, is "those were certainly all words". The phrases of 2022 included a soda advertisement's awkwardly rendered Latvian version of 'It won't make you look perfect', Rīga City Council's "Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, Safety, and Order", as well as the "Law on Energy Resources Prices Extraordinary Increase Decrease Measures".

The winner of this category was boxer Mairis Briedis' public call to "Stand up and straighten your bent heads"!

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